‘Doctor Strange’ sequel gets stranger with director Sam Raimi

“Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” is the sequel about the one-time Sorcerer Supreme. The latest motion picture in the Marvel Cinematic Universe stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Elizabeth Olsen in a horror-tinged entry directed by Sam Raimi.

"Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" movie poster
"Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" is a new release and sequel to the 2016 feature film adaption of the Marvel comic book character of the same name. The movie is playing at Lakes 12 Theatre in Baxter and Sunset Cinema in Jenkins.
Frank Lee / Brainerd Dispatch

BAXTER — Things just got even stranger in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

“Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” is the sequel to the 2016 Benedict Cumberbatch-starring superhero movie about the sorcerer and galactic defender of Earth.

The new release at Lakes 12 Theatre in Baxter and Sunset Cinema in Jenkins is racking up supersized ticket sales like its recent MCU predecessor, “ Spider-Man: No Way Home.

In the first film, the one-time brilliant-but-arrogant surgeon Doctor Stephen Strange turned to the magical and mystical arts to better himself when a tragic accident of his own doing ended his medical career.

In this latest outing, Strange takes on another Marvel Comics creation and one-time Avengers teammate, the Scarlet Witch, in a visually striking, big-screen battle for reality as we know it.


The physician-turned-sorcerer must prevent the lovelorn, grief-stricken and singularly-obsessed Scarlet Witch from possibly destroying our universe in her pursuit of familial happiness.

Played by Elizabeth Olsen, she cuts a tragic figure in the feature film adaption of the comic book character of the same name whose actions are now perverted by a twisted love in the sequel.

“You break the rules and become a hero. I do it and I become the enemy. That doesn't seem fair,” Wanda Maximoff, aka the Scarlet Witch, tells Doctor Strange.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness ” picks up after “ Avengers: Endgame , which saw the restoration of order following an epic showdown between the forces of good and evil.

Cumberbatch and Olsen play multiple versions of their characters based on the mind-blowing premise of the sequel that ours is not the only universe that exists with similar people and lives.

Encountering themselves in these alternate universes that defy our reality, the ever-intriguing premise of “What if?” — the choices made, the roads less traveled — is a compelling mystery.

The sequel is an action-fantasy motion picture that often veers into horror territory and was based on the comic book source material originated by Steve Ditko and Stan Lee.

The two-hour movie explores these endless possibilities with epic battle royales between Doctor Strange, who is played by Cumberbatch, and the Scarlet Witch, in a multitude of universes.


The film veers often and interestingly into the horror genre, with some nightmare-inducing scenes arguably way too intense for young viewers so parental discretion is advised.

Frank Lee
Frank Lee

Prior knowledge of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s nearly three dozen previous entries on the big and the small screens is not necessary for the enjoyment of the Doctor Strange sequel.

Like with most franchises, however, it does help to know the backstories of the main characters in “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” or adds to the pleasure of watching the movie.

One scene, in particular, stands out in the feature film, in a particular universe in which a superhero tribunal of sorts hands down judgment about Doctor Strange’s fate.

The Supreme Court-like makeup of powerful beings includes superheroes from other Marvel comic book properties that will be sure to delight fans eager to see another Avengers-like team.

Disney recently acquired the cinematic rights to other comic book heroes, so some of those famous superheroes make a surprising extended cameo of sorts in the Doctor Strange sequel.

Sam Raimi directed the original Spider-Man trilogy with Tobey Maguire as the web-slinger to critical and commercial success and uses his Midas touch to helm the Doctor Strange sequel.

“Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” is arguably a pitch-perfect match between source material and a director who made a name for himself with his “ Evil Dead ” horror franchise.


With elements from “The Twilight Zone,” the Raimi-directed Doctor Strange sequel proves there is ample room in the MCU for different takes on the superhero genre, from horror to humor.

The Doctor Strange sequel began with $36 million on Thursday, the eighth-highest pre-Friday release total ever, which led to an opening weekend of $185 million and the second-highest start during the pandemic behind only “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” according to ticket sales.


Audiences may want to stay for the post-credits scene, which has become a mainstay of movies from Marvel Studios and acts as a teaser for future comic book-based movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, such as the upcoming “ Thor: Love and Thunder ” starring Chris Hemsworth.

“Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” holds a 75% approval rating among critics and an 87% approval rating among audiences at Rotten Tomatoes, a review-aggregation website for film and television.

The critics consensus at Rotten Tomatoes: “‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ labors under the weight of the sprawling MCU, but Sam Raimi's distinctive direction casts an entertaining spell.”

FRANK LEE may be reached at 218-855-5863 or at . Follow him on Twitter at .

I cover the community of Wadena, Minn., and write features stories for the Wadena Pioneer Journal. The weekly newspaper is owned by Forum Communications Co.
What To Read Next
Get Local