Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis
Planet  illustration Earth Apocalypse
Photo licensed via Adobe Stock

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

Where were we? After the Mouse decided to disappoint the fans and humiliate a large portion of the Marvel Universe, we find Wanda chasing America Chavez, Christine, and Dr. Strange. She’s bloody and limping because she walked on a bunch of broken glass — and yet, our heroes are terrified of her. The scene looks great, and the concept was terrifying, so long as one forgets the fact that Wanda can fly and doesn’t ask why in the world she’d walk on glass when she could just float over it…

At any rate, they reach the door leading to the Book of Vishanti, figure out the combination, and hop onto a platform where the book is resting on an odd-looking podium. Despite the fact that Wanda is right on their heels, Dr. Strange meanders toward the book like it’s his Sunday stroll and takes it from the podium. He barely gets the chance to open it when Wanda appears, and of course, she grabs America. She and Strange shoot some rope-like beams, and the all-important Book of Vishanti is destroyed in the process:

Not that anyone cares. This book, it turns out, is a MacGuffin, a plot device that merely kept the story going to this point. It will never be mentioned again.

Wanda does some sort of mind magic that isn’t really described and manages to open America’s portals for her. Using this ability, she returns America back to the Darkhold Castle and at the same time, throws Dr. Strange and Christine into another portal leading to a universe where there has been an Incursion (a collision with another universe).

So, now we’ve come to the eleventh hour. Wanda has America and is going to drain the poor girl of her powers and kill her. Then Wanda is going to enter another reality, kill that universe’s Wanda, and take over as the children’s mother. In the process, she will unknowingly cause an incursion in two universes and kill trillions of people by accident.

So, what do Christine and Dr. Strange do when they land in the strange new world? They walk. They take a leisurely stroll through the city of New York which is now a bizarre, surreal landscape because everyone has died, and the fabric of reality has broken down. As they are walking, they decide to find this reality’s Dr. Strange to see if he can help.

That part of the scene was fine, but for the life of me, I cannot understand how the writers suddenly forgot that both Dr. Strange and Wanda can fly. Why on earth is Strange strolling down vacant city streets when he can fly, and the fate of the multiverse is at stake?

Anyway, they reach Dr. Strange’s house and find that this universe’s Strange is alive, so Dr. Strange enters the building to talk to him. It turns out that this Strange used the Darkhold and it corrupted him, so he is now a villain. The two Stranges fight, and I have to admit, this scene was pretty neat. Basically, the two Stranges form musical notes out of magic and fight while conducting an orchestra. The scene doesn’t make a lick of sense, but it’s amazing to look at:

In the end, our Dr. Strange wins and takes the Darkhold from Sinister Strange. Once he opens the book, Christine enters the room, and Strange tells her that he is going to possess Defender Strange’s corpse, so he can rescue America Chavez:

He also tells Christine to protect him from “the Souls of the Damned” who will attack him since he is breaking the rules of magic by possessing a corpse.

It would’ve been nice if he’d told her how to defend him against the Souls of the Damned, but I guess, he was just in a hurry. Perhaps, he wouldn’t have been in such a hurry if he’d flown to his house instead of walking, but anyway…

Strange possesses Defender Strange, and it is finally shown that Defender Strange had a sling ring the entire time. Why he didn’t use it in the first scene is anyone’s guess. Dr. Strange opens a portal to the Darkhold Castle, but once he reaches the top of a nearby mountain, the Souls of the Damned attack Strange — and at the same time, they attack Christine.

She shrieks and cries, because of course, Dr. Strange didn’t tell her how to take these entities on, but wonder of wonders, she just so happens to stumble across a glass case containing a clay jar. For whatever reason, she knows what the jar is. It’s a bazooka for ghosts. How convenient.

She blows the ghosts away and tells Dr. Strange to use the spirits which are attacking him, and this works… for some reason. Why wasn’t he able to simply control the spirits before?

Stop asking questions! Who cares! Just enjoy the spectacle! And it is a spectacle, a rather neat spectacle, regardless of how poorly it’s set up.

Dr. Strange captures the Souls of the Damned and uses them to make a demonic cape. So, now, Dr. Strange is essentially a zombie flying around like a bat.

Oh, and by the way, Wong didn’t die when Wanda threw him off the cliff. That was nice. Wong meets Strange as he lands inside the temple for his final confrontation with Wanda and says, “I don’t even want to know,” which is an apt thing to say considering that the audience doesn’t know what’s going on either.

Wanda who has been draining America of her power this entire time — and for some incomprehensible reason, America is not dead yet — sees Strange and shoots some magic at him, but the demonic cape eats the magic. Strange then commands the Souls of the Damned to attack Wanda. They do, and this should have been the point where the battle ended.

Wanda has been using dark arts to amplify her powers, and now, evil spirits are rendering her powers useless. She should’ve been beaten, “hoisted on her own petard” so to speak. The whole set-up had a nice “the Devil always comes to collect” ring to it, but the Mouse couldn’t leave it alone. It just had to insert its stupid “believe in yourself” speech at the end.

So, because, again, the writers weren’t smart enough to have Wanda find an inventive solution to get out of her problem, she just breaks through the monsters. One moment her powers are completely useless, the next, she throws the Souls of the Damned off with the greatest of ease.

At least, anime has the decency to drag its characters through an existential crisis before they pull this type of level-up trope, where special powers are added. But Disney’s writers have Wanda suddenly throw the monsters off of her as if they were never a problem.

In desperation, Wong tells Strange to take America’s powers before Wanda can. But of course, Dr. Strange refuses to do this. He gives America a pep talk. He tells her that’s she’s always had the ability to control her powers because each time she opened a portal, she sent them exactly where they needed to go.

When the corpse is done talking to her, America is convinced. She gets up, punches Wanda a couple times, then opens a portal to one of the other Wanda’s house — presumably the house of Wanda before she was possessed. The fight between America and the Scarlet Witch scares the snot out of Wanda’s children who were in the living room watching Snow White:

What follows is a very sad scene that is well acted. One almost forgets all the nonsense it took to get the viewer to this point. The dramatic encounter is enough to convince Wanda to stop what she’s doing. She leaves the other universe and returns to the Darkhold Castle.

Once Wong and America escape, leaving only her and Strange, she collapses the Darkhold Castle, which, again for reasons unknown, destroys all the Darkholds in every universe. Wanda is killed in the process.

Once Strange’s zombie is destroyed, he returns to his own body and has a final conversation with Christine before America and Wong find him. We’ll look over the conclusion of the movie, and I’ll share some final thoughts next time.

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.

It’s the End of the Multiverse — And Yet No One Is in a Hurry?