Doctor Strange 2: Superhero glory or Disney channel wanna-be?

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness marks the most recent Marvel movie installment of its self-proclaimed “new generation of heroes” after its cinema release on May 7. Following newly acclaimed films and series like Shang-Chi, Black Widow and WandaVision, the movie had big shoes to fill. The result? A comedic, and at times cringewor- thy, film that required in-depth Marvel knowledge to understand and suffered from a lot of plot holes.

Unlike most other Marvel films, Multiverse of Madness took its time getting to the point of the plot. Initially jam-packed with action scenes, within the first fifteen minutes, the pace of the movie slowed almost as quickly as it began.

Right off the bat, viewers are introduced to America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez), the movie’s quirky teenage protagonist, who displays unfathomable superpowers and wears a stars-and-striped jean jacket paired with black high-top Converse shoes. America’s awkward dialogues combined with her unexplained vaguely Hispanic backstory, despite her other-worldly childhood and the inclusion of her lesbian mothers, makes for a confusing introduction to her character. All-in-all, not a promising start for the movie.

The film then follows Doctor Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) from the wedding of his longtime love interest to various universes populated with never-before-seen heroes as well as other iconic faces such as Dr. Xavier (Patrick Stewart) from X-men.

While Strange travels the multiverse with his new companion to avoid capture from the “demon” who wishes to steal America’s powers, the question of happiness is added into the equation. Confronting the different versions of himself forces Strange to look inward and reflect on his own identity. While the introspection seemed well-placed in the current political and social climate, Strange never really comes to terms with his own happiness at the film’s end, serving as another wasted storyline.

The Scarlet Witch herself was another victim of a poorly-crafted plot. The complicated character of Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen), beloved by most Marvel fans following her own spinoff series, seemed to be manipulated by screenwriters to create an obvious antagonist for Strange in the film.

While the Scarlet Witch’s powers are certainly put on full display and intensity, her own character development that was so carefully crafted in Wanda Vision is thrown completely out the window for the sake of an easy supervillain appearance. The entire conflict of the movie is centered around Wanda being reunited with her twin boys, but she seems perfectly fine doing so at the expense of young America’s life, another huge hole in the matriarch role Wanda has taken on in recent Marvel productions.

While this movie is worth a watch for any longtime Marvel fans and will afford a few heart-warming moments, it lacks the usual poise and maturity that has been associated with Marvel in the past. Aside from some laugh-out-loud jokes, most of the heroism of the great Doctor Strange is overshadowed by cringey dialogue and confusing plot holes.