As the Hollywood world premiere of Marvel's Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness wrapped up on Monday evening, critics took to Twitter to share their initial thoughts on the franchise sequel starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Elizabeth Olsen.
The film follows the callous Dr. Stephen Strange (Cumberbatch) only a few months after the events of the recent blockbuster hit Spider-Man: No Way Home in which Peter Parker (Tom Holland) unleashed the multiverse in an attempt to get his life of anonymity back. Determined to restore the world to its original reality, Dr. Strange seeks the help of the Sorcerer Supreme Wong (Benedict Wong) and Wanda Maximoff (Olsen), otherwise known as the Scarlet Witch.
Wanda's story picks up from the season finale of the Marvel television series WandaVisionduring which she defeated the powerful witch Agatha (Kathryn Hahn) and absorbed all of her magic, leaving her to seek solace in the wilderness alone with her newfound powers.
Olsen previously told Metacritic that Wanda has been very much alone since then, but she is OK with being alone, and she has accepted her destiny. So when she is asked to help save the universe from a powerful interdimensional villain that poses a threat to humanity unlike anything they've seen before, she agrees. And from there the film focuses on them traveling the multiverse, including meeting different versions of themselves, to save the world.
The film, from director Sam Raimi and screenwriter Michael Waldron, also stars Benedict Wong, Xochitl Gomez, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Rachel McAdams.
Though the official reviews for the multiversal film won't be released until the morning of May 3, the sentiment is clear that Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness may be one of Marvel's most horror-filled films yet, due in great part to Raimi (who comes with horror bona fides).
As The New York Times' Karl Delossantos put it, "Don't worry, Sam Raimi fans. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness fully goes horror-jump scares, body horror, and a smattering of diabolical kills. It fits in the MCU but has Raimi's deranged creepy campy groovy DNA all over it. Start the Elizabeth Olsen Oscar campaign."
The other reactions have thus far been heavy on praise, too, but some audience members left the screening divided on just how heavy to heap on that praise and at what parts of the film.
Journalist Dino-Ray Ramos called the film "fun" but noted that "Marvel needs to up their wig budget." He also praised Gomez' performance, calling her a star and suggesting the film is more about Olsen's character than Cumberbatch's, noting, "It should have been called The Scarlet Witch and the Multiverse of Madness."
Meanwhile, CheatSheet's Jeff Nelson called it "the most adrenaline-pumping and action-packed MCU movie yet" and a "must-see for all lovers of horror, comics, and Raimi."
Buzzfeed's Nora Dominick said it is a ride that is "a little rushed in some spots, but ... has the iconic Sam Raimi wild vibe." She also specifically called out Olsen as "a force [who] surprises at every turn as she builds upon everything she's done in the MCU so far."
And film critic Paul McGuire Grimes also noted that Olsen "absolutely delivers" while "Raimi has his stamp all over it," two presumably good things that perhaps couldn't save the "BIG swing," as he concludes by saying there is "a disjointed and chaotic rush to it."
Fandom's Eric Goldman agreed "that Raimi directed this is clear" and said commented on its film rating, as well as its tone: "It feels like the limits of what you can get away with in a PG-13 and I was very happy with how that manifested. It's rather herky jerky but when it (often) embraces weird/wacky, it's great."
See below for more hot-take reactions:
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness opens in theaters on May 6.