Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is now officially in theaters all across the world after a difficult road toward its debut over the past couple of years. Not only did the worldwide pandemic push its debut to a full year after it was initially supposed to arrive, but six weeks of reshoots also had fans worried that this movie was in some serious development trouble.
At the start of the opening weekend for Doctor Strange 2, fans are coming out in droves to see the first MCU movie of 2022 and sharing largely positive reviews about their first time fully experiencing the Multiverse. The magical sequel has already earned the fourth-highest Thursday night preview box office numbers in MCU history, and it's showing no signs of slowing down as it pushes through the next few days.
Even with concerns about such hefty reshoots, the film's stars seemed largely optimistic about what they and the rest of the team looked to accomplish with the first solo Doctor Strange movie in more than five years. Now, in the middle of its internet-breaking first weekend, director Sam Raimi shared his thoughts on what those reshoots did for the quality of his MCU directorial debut.
Sam Raimi on Doctor Strange Reshoots
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness director Sam Raimi spoke with Rolling Stone about how the movie's reshoots helped to improve the story.
He started by calling the sequel arguably "the most complex movie" that he's ever worked on in his career due to dealing with so many versions of different characters from across the MCU's Multiverse:
“It’s a really complex movie. It’s probably the most complex movie I’ve ever had anything to do with. Not just dealing with one character, or even five characters, but Multiversal versions of those characters — and each one has a storyline.”
He also touched on what he wanted to accomplish with the film's reshoots, which were largely used to make sure that fans understand all the concepts in a story that had as many moving parts as this one did. It was about recognizing what was moving too slowly and what the movie didn't need, but it was also about looking at test screenings and expanding on the moments that fans were truly responding well to in theaters:
"There’s a lot of points where the audience says, 'I don’t understand this. I don’t understand this concept.' Or, 'I’m aware of this concept, and then you explained it again in the third act.' 'Oh, you’re right. The audience knows that already.' Or: 'They had to know that in order to accept this next story beat.' A lot of it is test screenings, learning what is confusing on a complex picture like this, or learning things that have overstayed their welcome. Recognizing when something is too slow, and even though it’s a proper beat to put in, the audience doesn’t need it. They can figure that out on their own, so what seemed like a logical step now becomes, in the editing process, 'Hmm. That’s slowing us down. Let’s skip it and let the audience make the leap themselves.' But it’s also about recognizing what they really like, and sometimes expanding those things that they’re really reacting well to. It’s recognizing what’s original about the picture, and when you’ve got the opportunity to, expanding upon that.'
Doctor Strange 2 Audience Staying Engaged
While Raimi didn't go into specifics about exactly what was reshot during those six weeks, he made it clear that it was all about making the story as streamlined as possible.
Even considering his work on the Spider-Man trilogy from the early and mid-2000s, Raimi has never had a film where he had to juggle nearly this many different characters across multiple different universes before. This doesn't even count the concept that many of them are different variations of the same person at times, including a quartet of Stephen Stranges and a duo of Wanda Maximoffs, amongst others.
With this being the first MCU movie to fully explore the concept of the Multiverse, Raimi made it a point to make things easy to understand so that things didn't become stale and fans didn't become bored or confused. This could have been partly why the movie was just over two hours in runtime, which also allowed it to be a full-blown roller-coaster ride from the opening credits to the final moments and the post-credits scenes.
While some of those moments were cut or shortened, Raimi also knew when to expand on some of the more game-changing moments for the MCU in this Multiversal sequel. Seeing certain rumored characters or finding out about the main villain were moments that qualified for that classification, and Raimi worked through all of it over those six weeks to find out what needed more and what needed less.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is now playing in theaters worldwide.