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Dr. Strange Finds a Universe Almost Like the One He Left…

But, like Schrödinger’s famous Cat, he is alive in one universe and dead in another

In the Multiverse of Madness, where were we? Ah yes, Dr. Strange and America Chavez finally find themselves in the multiverse.

They teleport through several universes until they land in a reality similar to their own. The first thing Strange wants to do is return to their reality, so he can save Wong, who is still trapped in the temple. However, America reminds him that she cannot control her powers, so they decide to visit the Dr. Strange of this world to see if they can find a way to help America.

When they arrive at Strange’s home, they discover that the Dr. Strange of this world is dead. A monument to the fallen hero says he died defeating Thanos. But the house is not empty. A moment later, Mordo, one of Dr. Strange’s rivals, steps outside and greets them. Apparently, in this universe, Dr. Strange and Mordo were friends. They enter the house and tell Mordo about their situation. Mordo listens attentively and offers them something to drink, but surprise, surprise, the drink is laced with a sedative, knocking our heroes out. Mordo is not their friend after all.

The next scene follows Wanda Maximoff’s point of view. It turns out, she too has a way to enter the multiverse, through dreamwalking, an ability which enables her to possess one of her counterparts in the multiverse so she can operate as she wishes. She possesses her counterpart, intending to find Strange and America, but is distracted by seeing her kids.

While all this is going on, Wong is trying to escape his bonds. As he is doing so, he is met by one of the survivors from the attack on Kamar-Taj. This survivor sees that the Darkhold has been left open and unguarded while Wanda is in a trance. Knowing that whoever destroys the Darkhold will die in the process, she sacrifices herself to rid the earth of the foul book. It would have been helpful if she’d thought to free Wong before sacrificing herself, but hey, we can’t think of everything can we? Besides, the plot still needs to happen.

Wanda wakes up and realizes the Darkhold has been destroyed. She’s certain that there has to be another copy of the book somewhere, so she frees Wong and demands that he tell her where the other copy is. Wong, rather than lying — which would have been the obvious thing to do — says he’d rather die, so Wanda tortures some of the survivors of Kamar-Taj. Now, I can understand him not wanting to see his friends tortured, but we are talking about the fate of the multiverse here. The sorcerers of the Marvel Universe have been shown to be somewhat callous in the past, so one would expect Wong to put up some kind of resistance. He doesn’t. He caves in less than thirty seconds and tells her that the original castle devoted to the Darkhold still exists. So, the two head to this castle.

Meanwhile, Dr. Strange and America wake up in a couple of glass cages where Strange meets this universe’s version of his former girlfriend Christine. They don’t talk long because Mordo returns and tells Strange that he is to stand trial before the Illuminati, this universe’s version of the Avengers. Strange meets the Illuminati which comprise a female version of Captain America called Captain Carter, Captain Marvel, Black Bolt, Reed Richards, Mordo and none other than Professor X himself.

The Illuminati explain to Strange that their version of Dr. Strange had used the Darkhold in their attempt to kill Thanos, and as a result, had caused what they call an Incursion, an event where two universes collide and an entire population of one or both universes is wiped out. Their Dr. Strange renounced the Darkhold and found the Book of Vishanti — the initial book that Defender Strange and America Chavez were trying to find — instead. They used the Book of Vishanti to defeat Thanos, and afterwards, their Dr. Strange was executed for his crime.

This series of events convinced them that all Dr. Strange’s were bad… for some reason, and so they are essentially holding a show trial for Dr. Strange before they execute him. Strange insists that the real threat isn’t him at all but rather Wanda Maximoff who is bound to dreamwalk into their universe and destroy them at any moment. They insist they can handle Wanda and continue to complain about him.

Sure enough, as all this is happening, Wanda and Wong reach the Darkhold Castle where Wanda promptly throws Wong off the cliff because she’s done with him and begins her second attempt at dreamwalking. This time she does not allow her children to distract her, and immediately flies off to capture America Chavez.

Soon, the Illuminati complex is shaking as Wanda easily destroys a bunch of robots which are supposed to be this universe’s version of Ultron. Reed Richards then states the obvious: Wanda is attacking them.

The heroes all stand up to confront Wanda, and the moment they are gone, Professor X tells Strange that, should he escape, he needs to find the access point to the Book of Vishanti that their version of Dr. Strange created when they fought Thanos. Mordo questions this but Professor X says that he believes in Dr. Strange. He quotes a throwback line so the viewer will get the feels and forget how idiotic this whole setup is.

I mean, if Professor X really believed this Dr. Strange is sound, then why in world didn’t he just let him go and save everyone a tremendous amount of time. At any rate, he too leaves the room. Mordo is the only one left to guard Dr. Strange…

Wanda plows through the robots and is about to reach America when all the members of the Illuminati, save Professor X, confront her. This leads to single worst moment in the entire film — the moment which left fans furious. We’ll cover this fateful fight next Sci-Fi Saturday.

Here are all the portions of my my extended review of Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness:

Can the multiverse really work as a plot device? That’s a question Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness begs us to ask though but the screenwriters’ answer might be disturbing. Just bringing back characters who died “in another universe” for the sake of a sequel, for example, insults the viewer’s emotional intelligence.

Multiverse of Madness features infinite problems. The extensive edits to Sam Rami’s work as a director have left it riddled with plot holes and inconsistencies. If I could describe the problems in one word, that word would be “laziness.” The multiverse provides an excuse for all kinds of incoherent nonsense.

Do life history or moral choices matter in a multiverse? In this third part of my extended review of Multiverse of Madness, I look at how characters suddenly alter with no accounting. The cinematography is fine but what has happened to Doctor Strange’s earlier powers? And why has Wanda morphed from a complex figure into an arch-villainess?

The only mad people in Dr. Strange’s multiverse are the writers. We don’t know why Wanda has morphed into a villain or why good and evil have become morally equivalent. I don’t know who gave the Mouse its moral compass, but it seriously needs to re-evaluate the ethics that underlie story developments covered here.

Marvel Universe: Being all powerful, it turns out, is very boring The Mirror Dimension in Multiverse of Madness dispenses with sharp intellectual conflict, opting for unexplained power plays instead. In the siege of Kamar-Taj, the superheroes break the rule that they have only SPECIFIC superpowers and weaknesses. That rule is what creates story excitement.

Dr. Strange finds a universe almost like the one he left… But, like Schrödinger’s famous Cat, he is alive in one universe and dead in another. Wanda Maximoff will stop at nothing to capture America Chavez and her powers — but having several universes to dominate does complicate things.

Multiverse of Madness skirts the edges of story collapse. Oh well, it IS a multiverse, so maybe, in this reality, all the heroes stink. The final conflict between Wanda and Professor X enraged fans because… it was zilch. At least now we don’t need to look up “anticlimax” in a dictionary.

It’s the end of the Multiverse — and yet no one is in a hurry? Until close to the end, everyone continues to behave as if previous events and circumstances have no consequences and vital information is optional. Close to the end we come across a very sad scene that is so well acted that one almost forgets all the nonsense it took to get the viewer to this point.


Multiverse of Madness?: It’s a letdown for the Marvel Universe. I can’t really recommend it because spectacle trumps any sense of the story hanging together and we can infer nothing from past events. Whether the high level of incoherence is inevitable in a multiverse setting or a result of the Mouse’s control — I prefer to remember past classics fondly.

Gary Varner

Gary Varner is the Assistant to the Managing and Associate Directors at the Center for Science & Culture in Seattle, Washington. He is a Science Fiction and Fantasy enthusiast with a bachelor’s degree in Theater Arts, and he spends his time working with his fellows at Discovery Institute and raising his daughter who he suspects will one day be president of the United States. For more reviews as well as serial novels, go to www.garypaulvarner.com to read more.

Dr. Strange Finds a Universe Almost Like the One He Left…