Warning: SPOILERS for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness are in play. You’ll want to hop to another piece of coverage and/or another dimension if you haven’t seen the movie yet.
No matter what has happened during the road to Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness's release, it seems that the latest of the Marvel movies was always destined to be a horror film. The resulting Benedict Cumberbatch-led thrill fest pulled didn't hold back in making sure that director and horror icon Sam Raimi’s prints were all over this one. That strategy includes some pretty gnarly horror moments that made their way to the screen thanks to Raimi’s artistry.
Naturally if you don’t want to know anything about what the hell Doctor Strange 2 has up its sleeve, you should turn back and read something like our own Eric Eisenberg’s official review of the movie. Things are about to get as deadly and vicious as a pack of Deadites swallowing a cabin full of souls in the woods. If you’re not ready, we’ll see you when you are; but if you’re taking this journey, then buckle up, baby!
Wanda Maximoff's Wholesale Destruction Of The Illuminati
I had to start with this Doctor Strange 2 moment because of the fact that it’s probably the most brutal of the bunch. When Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) decides to almost the entire Illuminati membership (838-Mordo survived, but he didn't have to fight her), it’s a moment that plays with the edges of what the MCU has allowed in terms of gore and brutality.
Though some moments are tastefully alluded to, like that time Captain Carter (Hayley Atwell) was dissected by her own vibranium shield, others linger a little longer than expected. Unless I was somehow the only person surprised by Black Bolt (Anson Mount) having his head collapse in on itself, gushing just a bit of blood because of his voice being trapped.
Stephen’s Eye-Popping Encounter With The Octopus Demon
Early on in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Sam Raimi decides it’s a good idea to just release a good-old fashioned octopus demon into the wild. Crossing universes to pursue America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez), it’s up to Stephen Strange to vanquish this being once and for all. His method is something that even impressed when it came time to write my 3D review for the movie.
All it took was a streetlamp and some mystical arts, and that demon had a literally eye-popping experience. The way it’s presented is definitely gnarly, but in true Sam Raimi fashion, there’s quite a bit of laughter to be had. It’s a fine line the man’s been riding since The Evil Dead, and this is one of those moments that shows Raimi’s far from out of practice.
Scarlet Witch’s Possession(s) Of Alternate Wandas
Here’s another huge spoiler for Doctor Strange’s big follow-up: Wanda Maximoff’s Scarlet Witch persona is the real villain. Though the marketing did a good job of covering this up, it turns out those variant Wandas trying to wreck multiversal homes are all controlled by Earth-616’s Wanda.
This is one of several segments where Sam Raimi falls back on Evil Dead style camerawork, and subtle menace, to creep the hell out of the audience. It’s also why The Illuminati is no more, as it’s a possessed Wanda that shreds our preferred version of Mr. Fantastic (John Krasinski) while doing away with his other friends.
Sara’s Fiery Death While Destroying The Darkhold
Sometimes sorcerers must sacrifice themselves for the greater good, which is exactly what Kamar-Taj resident Sara (Sheila Atim) does in order to destroy what she thinks is The Darkhold. An ill-gotten spellbook that corrupts whoever uses it, it’s had Wanda Maximoff under its spell since the series finale of WandaVision.
Hoping to save the world by destroying it, Sara becomes engulfed in fire and burns to a literal crisp in the process. Again, Sam Raimi knows just how long to linger on such a moment that it seers into the MCU while still staying in the PG-13 guidelines. Those rules only govern what’s shown on screen, not the effect it has on the audience; and this Doctor Strange 2 moment is bound to be remembered for some time.
Black Bolt’s Execution Of Earth 838’s Doctor Strange
In the history of Earth-838, Doctor Strange dies a hero, at least according to what the history books and his statue say. As our Stephen Strange from Earth-616 finds out though, the Darkhold corrupted that version of the Sorcerer Supreme and led to a multiversal incursion. The punishment for such an action: sonic disintegration, through Black Bolt’s “true voice.”
While this isn’t as horror heavy as other moments on this Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness list, it’s still pretty extreme. Not only have we never seen the Inhumans character use his voice within a Marvel Studios production, but the process of tearing Earth-838’s “mightiest hero” into particular matter is quite shocking.
Stephen Possessing His Alternate Self’s Corpse
The entire third act of Doctor Strange 2 is a festival of Sam Raimi standards and practices that will delight any of his fans, both old and new. There’s some real Army of Darkness stuff going on, especially with Stephen Strange’s huge play at thwarting Earth-616’s Scarlet Witch. Dream-walking into his alternate self’s corpse, Doctor Strange reanimates himself in ugly, but exaggerated fashion.
Just try not to look at the exemplary makeup work on Benedict Cumberbatch as he plays the undead Strange. There’s just enough flesh missing to be gnarly, but enough of him left over to make his motivational speech to America Chavez believable. It could be a source of nightmares, but by this point in the movie, the Raimi machine is cranking along so well that you could probably move past it.
Anything Involving The Souls Of The Damned
If Sam Raimi deserves credit for anything in his Doctor Strange sequel, it’s the off-kilter look and envelope pushing we’ve described thus far. However, the next aspect fans should take note of is the fact that even with CGI creations, Raimi and his team had a special way of making it look like the stop-motion monsters he’s worked with in the past. Nowhere is this more noticeable than with the Souls of the Damned, which plague Stephen Strange as he tries to dream-walk through a battle with Scarlet Witch.
Perhaps the most signature moment of Damned magic is when Earth-838’s Dr. Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams) is under siege by these hellish warriors. After being attacked with some Evil Dead-style visuals, Christine fends off these beasts and sends them to Hell, complete with an attitude that’d make Ash Williams salute her proudly.
Dr. Stephen Strange’s Third Eye Finale
Dr. Stephen Strange was warned by everyone who could tell him that playing with the Darkhold has grave consequences. Even his alternate self, who was holed up as the result of a destructive inter-dimensional incursion, made note of the wicked powers this grave text held. And yet, in the name of saving the day, Earth-616’s Strange used the book and defeated great evil.
However, just as Baron Karl Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) would probably tell you in any reality in the multiverse, the bill comes due. Payment just happens to come at the end of Doctor Strange 2, when out of nowhere our version of Doctor Strange painfully sprouts a third eye. One moment he’s just walking down the street, and the next he’s looking like his alternate, more sinister self; and the pain conveyed really makes for a darkly sharpened ending to this Marvel Studios movie.
Though it couldn’t have been too painful, as when he meets fellow sorcerer/potential future wife Clea (Charlize Theron), he opens that bad boy up like a charm. Charging into another universe of madness, there might be more consequences and/or shenanigans ahead. Thanks to Sam Raimi’s unique style, and Loki/Rick and Morty veteran Michael Waldron’s bonkers script, the strange days ahead are going to be wilder than ever. You can see just what we mean as you revisit Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, which is currently playing in theaters.
CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.
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