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The title of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase 4 film Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness conjures images of psychological terror and Lovecraftian horrors, where reality and fantasy mix into a waking cosmic nightmare. It would be totally reasonable to assume that this is some kind of horror film, especially if you look at the subtitle in a vacuum, without the Doctor Strange bit. But no, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness isn’t a horror film, as Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige explained:
Multiverse of Madness is the greatest title we’ve ever come up with, by the way, which is one thing that’s exciting about it. I wouldn’t necessarily say that’s a horror film, but … it’ll be a big MCU film with scary sequences in it.
While this will surely disappoint some fans that were hoping to see the MCU go full tilt into the horror genre with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, the Phase 4 film will not be a horror film in the strictest sense. So no one should go in hoping to see a movie that is of a piece with something like IT, Us or Halloween.
But while Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is not a horror film with a capital ‘H,’ that doesn’t mean that it won’t have horror elements. In a Q&A at the New York Film Academy's guest speaker series, Kevin Feige called it a big MCU film that will contain scary sequences, so Multiverse of Madness will not be entirely devoid of heart-pounding moments designed to scare you.
Part of what the Marvel Cinematic Universe has done so well is mixing in elements of sub-genres into the superhero action films. Captain America: The Winter Solider was part political thriller, Ant-Man is a heist film and Guardians of the Galaxy is a quirky space opera.
Based on Kevin Feige’s comments, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness may do something similar, where it is definitely not a true horror film, but it does embrace certain aspects of that genre while telling its story. I think a horror slant of sorts would still fit within Kevin Feige’s description of the film and with the mystic arts and the inclusion of Scarlet Witch, there is definitely potential for scares.
How scary those sequences will be we’ll have to wait and see. It is a PG-13 movie after all, so there won’t be any major gore and MCU movies are meant to have wide appeal.
But you don’t have to have gore to be scary and returning director Scott Derrickson got his start in the horror genre with films like Deliver Us From Evil, Sinister and The Exorcism of Emily Rose. So although Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness may not be a true horror film, he is certainly equipped to deliver scary sequences.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness may not be the MCU’s first true horror film, but it still sounds like there is plenty to look forward to with it. And hey, Blade is on the way, so maybe some real horror is still in the cards for the MCU down the line.
Kevin Feige is also absolutely right that Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is a fantastic title and one that really shows how Marvel Studios can basically be bold and do whatever crazy thing it wants at this point. That’s not the only great title in the MCU’s Phase 4 either, because Thor: Love and Thunder is also a banger.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness opens in theaters on May 7, 2021. Check out our 2020 Release Schedule to see what movies are coming next year.