Not only was Raimi's horror background on full display, but the Doctor Strange sequel took a dive into darker themes like how far can a hero be pushed before the start to crack.
Doctor Strange Has a Dark Side
As a part of The Art of Marvel Studios' Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness artbook, Doctor Strange 2 director Sam Raimi offered hints about the titular hero‘s dark side and why that makes him great ahead of Cumberbatch's MCU return.
Discussing his 2022 MCU film, Raimi remarked "[Doctor Strange’s] connection to the dark side" is a key part of the character’s appeal.
He added, "[Strange] a good person, but he’s got his own psychological problems:"
“He’s a good person, but he’s got his own psychological problems. He sometimes can be a little selfish, a little arrogant, proud. And this prevents him from being some flawless good guy. He wrestles with his dark side, and he delves into the supernatural in a way that some other magician who are fighting for good think is immoral.”
The veteran filmmaker opined all this gives the character "an interesting edge." He is a "character at war with himself" which, according to Raimi, makes him "very relatable" as a hero:
“Therein lies a great conflict with the character. I find him to be a character at war with himself, which we all are. And so he’s very relatable in that way, even though he’s a superhero. We find Doctor Strange at the beginning of our film as someone who has not only passed through the mastery of magic, but who’s now dealing with the results of a life spent devoted to one’s craft at the extreme of his personal life."
The director noted that, because of this conflict, Multiverse of Madness found Strange "isolated" and "a little bit miserable:"
"So I think that he’s lonely and a little upset and has not yet come to terms with those things that have put him aside from the ones he loves, such as his arrogance. I think it’s isolated him and made him a little bit miserable.
That’s where he starts in this film. And throughout the course of this journey, he’s going to find a way to open up and become a little more enlightened as a human being.”
Where Will Doctor Strange Go Next?
After the shocking twists and turns of Multiverse of Madness, it remains where this hero will go next, and how it will address this "conflict" within him.
The 2022 blockbuster ended as its titular hero opened up his third eye and headed off into spaces unknown with the mysterious Clea (played by Charlize Theron).
What will be interesting to see is this 'darkness' Sam Raimi brought up will continue to be a part of the Doctor Strange formula moving forward.
One of the key pillars of Multiverse of Madness was "embracing the darkness," according to writer Michael Waldron.
This could have possibly come down from Marvel as an integral piece to focus on with the character, and it may be an indication of something the studio wants to continue to embrace.
Doctor Strange 3 has not yet been confirmed by Marvel Studios, but fans should expect the Avenger's "dark side" to continue to be a focus long into the future.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is available now on Disney+.