In several of the scenes of the film Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madnessthat is now available on Disney+, darkness is everything. Director Sam Raimi, a veteran of horror film codes, reinvents them for the world of superheroes. And it does so through a careful perception of fear, threat and disquiet, intertwined with a peculiar script. Despite being unclassifiable at several of its highs and confusing at its lows, Raimi’s film managed to bring a dark and gloomy tone to Marvel. Quite a triumph of speech and tone, considering that for years, the successful franchise was criticized for its upbeat tone and light sense of humor.
Of course, the premise of the sequel to Doctor Strange It does not correspond at all with a horror film. But if it has enough ties to the genre to surprise and baffle fans of the Marvel saga.
Especially how Raimi drew parallels between power and its corruption, with a kind of raw violence that is disconcerting in the franchise. Raimi, who decided to support the visual section and the atmosphere in the film about the nature of evil, accomplish something else. Turn the story from a simple arc into a sometimes twisted exploration of the condition of power.
Each of the characters in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, is a wager on ambiguity. The hero played by Benedict Cumberbatch discovers that the many variants of him in the multiverse hide dark secrets. Elizabeth Olsen’s Wanda Maximoff goes from being a tragic character to a creature violent with a center based on pain. Among them, the condition about power becomes something closer to the usual questions of the horror genre. The temptation to exercise it, show it and use evil as a tool for immediate purposes, becomes a complex battle.
But specifically, Raimi based the film’s sinister pace on his experience directing films where fear is everything. From the camera movements — immediate reference to The Evil Dead— to the vertiginous tour of the supernatural Drag Me To Hell. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, assumes the weight of a more mature plot — or that tries to be — in the midst of gloom. With headless characters, slimy tentacled monsters, and damned souls holding zombies, the film is a bold experiment. One that overcomes the prejudice of what a superhero movie should be. And also, of what genre cinema can encompass.
The journey between multiverses with a dark touch
Wanda Maximoff, hitherto a character wounded by grief and bereavement, emerges in the Doctor Strange sequel as a villain. But Raimi plays again with the idea of cruelty and turns it into a human condition. What is evil but an expression of the worst pains and nightmares? Raimi takes the Marvel mythology — that Darkhold so similar to so many other cursed books in horror movies — and turns it into a dark point. Because the darkness — which he stalks, tempts, and in the end, possesses — it’s not just a plot twist to sustain an infinitely powerful character. Wanda knows that her abilities are terrifying and destined for destruction. And that in addition, she can use them at will. Raimi takes all of the above and deconstructs it into a disturbing conception about the conception of the gloomy.
And it is in Wanda that Raimi finds the most powerful symbol of the dark spaces that he usually includes in his films. Whether gliding through the air like a violent superpresence or crawling, disjointed and otherworldly. The villain of the story is also the very heart of darkness. For Rami, Wanda’s conception of her purpose and obsession is more than just a narrative thread. It is the way in which fear manifests itself, evades explanations, becomes a mysterious condition about what the human being can be. A fact that completely subverts the innocent Marvel universe — obsessed with precisely the opposite — and that is based on the perception of absolute fear. How to stop Wanda, capable of rewriting reality?
Raimi used the kind and painful narration of WandaVision to, precisely, support a creature that does not stick to explanations or nuances. In the Disney + series, the character discovered the real limit — or lack of one — of his abilities. For the film, Raimi transposes the idea of that intoxicating power to link it to an idea more human than it seems at first glance. The conception about the implacable. Wanda, obsessed with motherhood — or the isolation of loss — Go on a macabre quest across the multiverse. And it does, through a traditional horror movie trope. A creature animated by a human feeling, perverted and multiplied in hundreds of different versions, all of them disturbing.
Time and time again, Wanda becomes a classic of Raimi’s films. It is raw power, with a human undertone. At the same time, it is a journey through a kind of dense darkness that becomes more and more dangerous. The Scarlet Witch appears between the cracks, with the body transposed and disarticulated. Or it becomes a shimmering eyeshadow that cuts through reality. Even Raimi — supported by the script by Michael Waldron — kills the heroes of an alternate universe with heartless arrogance. Your reason? a very human wound. An infinitely wicked version of the usual Marvel anti-hero.
In the end, darkness is everything in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
The writer Darko Suvin insisted on the concept of Novum, a plot twist that allows the irruption of the fantastic into reality. An idea that Raimi has used on several different occasions, but in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, it is more powerful. The various symbols of good and evil, classic Marvel, become, this time, a transit through the states of being.
Stephen Strange, hero of a monstrous war, discovers that most of his variants have succumbed to evil. The heroes of the land are missing, destroyed or even hidden. In the darkness that Wanda leaves behind her, it is evident that there is a power reconverted into a weapon. Raimi takes all the elements and analyzes them as a journey through the Multiverse, but also the horrors that inhabit each of us. One of his favorite subjects.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, subverts Marvel’s idea of good and evil. Despite its mistakes and blank spots, the series moves on to other dangerous regions that the saga tries to deal with. And perhaps, that is its greatest merit, as a strange product, still to be assimilated and, without a doubt, disturbing from La casa de las ideas.