tek's rating: ¾

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (PG-13)
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Caution: spoilers.

Directed by Sam Raimi. This came out in 2022, and I actually saw it the same year, albeit six months later. It's as much a sequel to the Disney+ series WandaVision as it is to the film Doctor Strange. There were bits I kind of loved, but mostly I just quite liked the movie. So those few bits (which I wouldn't want to spoil for you) may have elevated my rating of the movie, but not quite to the "loved" level.

It begins with a dream that is not a dream. In a space between universes, an alternate Dr. Strange is trying to protect a girl named America Chavez from a monster that works for someone who wants to steal America's power, which is traveling between universes. (But as is so often the case with special powers in stories like this, America can't control her ability.) The monster ends up killing Dr. Strange, and then our universe's Dr. Strange wakes up, not yet realizing his dream was the experience of an alternate self. Anyway, he goes to the wedding of his ex-girlfriend, Christine. During the reception, Strange witnesses an unseen monster rampaging through the streets, and goes to stop it, making the monster visible in the process. It is chasing America, whom Strange rescues, with help from Wong (who we learned in the last Spider-Man movie is now Sorcerer Supreme, having replaced Strange in the role during the five-year blip following Avengers: Infinity War). America explains her situation to Strange (as well as showing him the dead body of his alternate self). He sends her to Kamar-Taj for safekeeping, and goes to ask Wanda Maximoff for help with the situation. Unfortunately, it turns out she's the one who wants America's power. See, in her series, she had a couple of kids named Billy and Tommy, who weren't exactly real, and ended up disappearing at the end of the series. But they're real in other universes, and she wants to reunite with them in one such universe (presumably eliminating their version of Wanda without their knowledge). It makes me wonder who their father is in those universes and when they were actually born (considering this universe's version of them aged rapidly both before and after being born). Anyway, Strange returns to Kamar-Taj, where all the sorcerers prepare to defend America from Wanda. Despite their best efforts, Wanda (aka Scarlet Witch) is much stronger than all of them, and many people die.

Strange and America manage to escape to an alternate universe, after rapidly traveling through a bunch of other universes. That was a fairly cool montage, reminiscent of Everything Everywhere All at Once, though I'd say this movie doesn't hold a candle to that one. Um... I need to mention that at the end of "WandaVision", Wanda had somehow obtained a spellbook called the Darkhold, which had previously been seen in season 4 of Agents of SHIELD, though I'm not at all sure whether this movie takes place in the same fictional continuity as that series. (Originally the show was set in the MCU, but it took some strange turns, over the years, so that by the end it's impossible to say what if anything in that series could be considered MCU canon.) Scarlet Witch uses a spell in the Darkhold to "dreamwalk", i.e., possess one of her alternate selves to continue chasing America. Meanwhile, Strange and America seek help from the Sorcerer Supreme of the universe they find themselves in, who turns out to be Mordo, who was in the first "Doctor Strange" movie. He is part of a group called the Illuminati (and I found it odd that Strange had seemingly never heard the word before; whether or not they exist in some form in his universe, at least the concept should be familiar). I don't want to spoil who the members of the Illuminati are (though I think it's a pretty cool roster). But I will say that one person who works for them is Christine, who in that universe is an expert on the Multiverse. (She calls her universe Earth-838 and Strange's Earth-616). Strange tries to warn the Illuminati about Scarlet Witch, but they're more concerned about Strange himself, for a reason I won't spoil.

And... I feel like I've said quite enough already about the plot. A lot more happens, including Strange and Christine being sent to yet another universe, where Strange uses the Darkhold, himself. (Things get dark, in a way I thoroughly enjoyed.) And there's a pretty dramatic development involving Strange at the end of the movie, which I won't reveal (until the next time we see him, whether that's in a third Doctor Strange movie or somewhere else). But I will say I liked the way the problem with Wanda was finally resolved, though of course I won't spoil how it was resolved. I will say it seems like she could be dead, but that seems pretty uncertain to me. I'm not making any assumptions about that, and I do hope to see her again someday. And I liked seeing Strange finally bow to Wong, and seeing America start training at Kamar-Taj. Also, there's a mid-credits scene that seems to set up Strange's next adventure. And there's a post-credits scene that I totally predicted, and I enjoyed being right about it.

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Phase One: Iron Man * The Incredible Hulk * Iron Man 2 * Thor * Captain America * The Avengers
Phase Two: Iron Man 3 * Thor: The Dark World * Captain America: The Winter Soldier * Guardians of the Galaxy * Avengers: Age of Ultron * Ant-Man
Phase Three: Captain America: Civil War * Doctor Strange * Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2 * Spider-Man: Homecoming * Thor: Ragnarok *
Black Panther * Avengers: Infinity War * Ant-Man and the Wasp * Captain Marvel * Avengers: Endgame * Spider-Man: Far from Home
Phase Four: Black Widow * Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings * Eternals * Spider-Man: No Way Home *
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness * Thor: Love and Thunder * Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Phase Five: Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania * Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 3 * The Marvels
short films: Marvel One-Shots
TV: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. * Agent Carter * Inhumans * Cloak & Dagger
Netflix: Daredevil * Jessica Jones * Luke Cage * Iron Fist * The Defenders * The Punisher
Hulu: Runaways * Helstrom
Disney+ (P4): WandaVision * The Falcon and the Winter Soldier * Loki * What If...? * Hawkeye * Moon Knight * Ms. Marvel * I Am Groot *
She-Hulk: Attorney at Law * Werewolf by Night * Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special
Disney+ (P5): Secret Invasion * Loki s2 * Echo