When Marvel Studios released Doctor Strange in 2016, the film stood apart from most of the Marvel Cinematic Universe at the time due to its mystical origin story and imaginative visual style. Now, six years and multiple MCU appearances later, Benedict Cumberbatch's sequel is set to break the mold once more in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
While Doctor Strange 2 is a sequel, it's also a continuation of the Multiversal themes explored in Spider-Man: No Way Home and, due to Elizabeth Olsen's Wanda Maximoff's presence, an extension of her story from Disney+'s WandaVision.
What truly separates Multiverse of Madness from the larger MCU is its grim tone. In addition to being directed by The Evil Dead's Sam Raimi, Doctor Strange 2 has long been teased to offer a "horror show vibe." Now, ahead of its May 6 theatrical debut, fans are getting a better idea of what to expect from this darker MCU installment.
Doctor Strange 2's Horrifying New Details
In a listing for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) has described some of the violent scenes and imagery audiences can expect from this fantasy-horror flick.
Under the heading of "Injury detail," the BBFC's site described the following visuals:
"A large wound is seen in a man's leg, and there is occasional sight of blood and cuts to faces. Occasional close ups on a dead body show some stages of decomposition."
In the category of "Threat and horror," the site described scenes involving "demonic beings attacking people," as well "people being burned by magical powers:"
"Scenes of horror include demonic beings attacking people; a decomposing corpse being reanimated; people being burned by magical powers, leaving charred remains; and multiple 'jump scares'. There are also frequent scenes of threat, in which people are pursued by demonic entities and monsters, or threatened with magical torture."
Interestingly enough, Elizabeth Olsen just recently warned audiences about the film's use of jump scares. And, thanks to new marketing, it appears that her character (or a Variant?) is responsible for much of the film's violence. In fact, one TV spot appeared to show her red-tinted chaos magic resembling fiery flames.
Finally, under the category of "Violence," the BBFC referenced imagery of "a person being impaled," "magical powers devastating a man's head," and even implied the fact that "someone is cut in half:"
"Sequences include superhuman beings battling with fantastical powers, as well as use of weapons and fistfights. Stronger moments include a person being impaled, magical powers devastating a man's head, and the implication someone is cut in half. Fantastical creatures are attacked using different magical powers, resulting in brief gory injuries."
No Fury Like a Scarlet Witch Scorned
In addition to new characters, genres, and storytelling formats, Phase 4 of the MCU has also shown Marvel Studios' interest in darker and more violent content. One of the best and most recent examples is Moon Knight on Disney+, due to its mature themes and vicious elements. If Moon Knight is the MCU's first plunge into such content on streaming, it sounds like Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness will serve as the studio's big-screen venture into the genre.
Considering the film follows the relatively family-friendly Spider-Man: No Way Home, it will be interesting to see how families and younger fans will react to this particular brand of content and whether that will negatively impact its box office performance. It will also be noteworthy to see how this film will leave Wanda Maximoff's character if she is the one behind all the burning and impaling and magical devastation.
While it seems that her twin boys, Billy and Tommy, as well as the Darkhold, are the likely motivation for her involvement in Doctor Strange's Multiversal mess, it's hard to believe that her second "incident" will be handled in the same fashion as the first.
Fortunately, fans don't have to wait too much longer to find out. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness will make its theatrical debut in just under two weeks, on May 6.