Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness earns mixed first reactions

Update: You can now read our Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness review.

Original: The first reactions to Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness are in – and while many critics have praised the Marvel movie’s rich visuals, dark vibes, and actors’ performances, the verdict on it seems to be pretty mixed overall. 

Following on from the events of Spider-Man: No Way Home, the sequel, which is rated PG-13, sees the titular mystic arts master try to deal with the potentially disastrous consequences of a forbidden spell gone awry.

Many tweets highlighted the performances of lead Benedict Cumberbatch, Elizabeth Olsen, who plays Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch, and MCU newcomer Xochitl Gomez, who stars as teenage dimension-hopper America Chavez. Viewers also celebrated how dark the film is, calling director Sam Raimi’s return to horror is a welcome one. That said, not everyone was convinced. Let’s take a look at what the critics have been saying…

“Don’t worry, Sam Raimi fans. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness fully goes horror – jump scares, body horror, and a smattering of diabolical kills. It fits in the MCU but has Raimi’s deranged creepy campy groovy DNA all over it,” New York Times editor Karl Delossantos gushed, before suggesting that Olsen should get some serious award recognition. “Start the Elizabeth Olsen Oscar campaign.”

“Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is a spectacle but this mid-table Marvel is a mixed bag,” admitted Variety and Forbes journo Simon Thompson. “Kicking off summer movie season, the sequel delivers rich visuals and a pretzel-esq narrative, throwing up some neat surprises. Raimi embracing his horror roots is welcome and bold win.” editor Brian Tallerico labeled the movie, “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Mehness,” while Review Online’s Matt Lynch described it as a “crummy-looking, mostly incoherent slog”.

Not gonna stop thinking about #DoctorStrangeInTheMultiverseOfMadness for a LONG WHILE!! (Not to mention having nightmares about some of those visuals) Bottom line: Raimi was perfect, more Cumberbatch & McAdams is better, Xochitl Gomez is a STAR & Elizabeth Olsen rules 🌟 3, 2022

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The new DOCTOR STRANGE is less like a movie and more like a train station for Marvel IP. Arrive with one character, depart with anyone to Disney+ or to a theater near you in the next few years.Nice when they let Sam Raimi be Sam Raimi, though. 3, 2022

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#MultiverseofMadness is a ride from start to finish. A little rushed in some spots, but it has the iconic Sam Raimi wild vibe. No surprise, but Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch is a force and she surprises at every turn as she builds upon everything she’s done in the MCU so far 3, 2022

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#DoctorStrange in the Multiverse of Madness rules. It’s inventive, truly weird, and absolutely a joyride to watch. I didn’t realize how much the MCU needed something like this.I will have so many more thoughts over at @ComicBook very, very soon. 3, 2022

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While Phase 4 has been my favorite of the MCU, I was let down by #DoctorStrangeMultiverseOfMadness. Cumberbatch and Olsen are both great, but Wanda’s character arc doesn’t make much sense and left me feeling like Marvel hasn’t actually fixed their female character problem. 3, 2022

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Collider’s Perri Nemiroff was very keen, however, tweeting: “Doctor Strange: MARVEL MADE A HORROR MOVIE! It’s weird, scary, and earns the title ‘Multiverse of Madness.’ If you were at all concerned this movie wouldn’t feel Sam Raimi enough, fear not! I can’t imagine a more Sam Raimi MCU film. My genre loving heart is bursting right now.”

“When it comes to the horror in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madnesss: did it hit any home runs? I don’t know. But did it take big swings? Absolutely,” Bro Bible writer Eric Italiano said. “As for the multiverse, unlike No Way Home, the reveals don’t feel like the spine of the plot, but rather the cherry on top of a pure Doctor Strange story.

Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Wong, Michael Stuhlbarg, Rachel McAdams, and Patrick Stewart, who is set to reprise his role as Professor Charles Xavier, also feature in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. While we wait for its release on May 5, why not check out our breakdown of the ever-expanding Marvel timeline.

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