After a whopping 27, Marvel superhero movies no longer have more worlds to contend with, so now they’re headed to parallel universes.
The long-awaited “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” which opens Friday in the US, sends the magician, played by Englishman Benedict Cumberbatch, to leap between strange, colorful, and terrifying new dimensions, with help from teenage newcomer America Chavez (Zuchitel Gomez). ).
The film explores the concept of a “multiverse,” made famous by superhero comic books, where the infinite universes and infinite versions of each character, hero or villain, coexist side by side.
“Yes, we just opened that door wide,” Cumberbatch said Monday during the world premiere in Los Angeles.
“And I’ll tell you something, it’s beautiful, it is very beautiful.”
But has the Hollywood franchise that thrived on making the world of animation accessible to mass audiences become so complex?
“Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” is full of references not only to the films that preceded them, but also to TV series on the Disney + platform such as “WandaVision” and “Loki”.
A review in The Hollywood Reporter says that the concept of parallel universes “is beginning to feel like a catchphrase for the franchise.”
John Defsor wrote that the recurring story is a “fantastic idea” but it might be too much for a universe like the Marvel universe, “which already contains an infinite number of characters and events.”
Variety considered it the kind of movie that forces “even the most ardent fans to apply themselves to be able to follow it.”
“It’s an attractive mess, but it’s a mess nonetheless,” wrote Owen Gleiberman of the trade publication.
If anything, recent history has taught us not to underestimate the allure of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The series has turned conventional wisdom about the neglect of Generation Z teens on its head with hits like 2019’s “Avengers: Endgame,” which was the last of more than two dozen interconnected films, going back more than a decade to the original Iron Man. Man” (2008).
It grossed nearly $2.8 billion globally, and quickly became the highest-grossing production ever before “Avatar” removed the title.
“Marvel means success in Hollywood right now,” said Model Relations Analyst Jeff Bock.
“And that’s why no one blinks when you talk about opening $150 million or $200 million,” he added.
Kevin Feige, the influential president of Marvel Studios, said last week that planning for production of superhero films for the next decade is in full swing.
The concept for several beloved character releases has already been a hit, including “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” which was released in December and the third highest-grossing movie of all time in the United States.
In addition to the Marvel franchise, the recent sci-fi comedy “Everywhere All at One” addresses the idea of parallel universes. Starring Michelle Yeoh, the critically acclaimed production is moving forward with strong box office numbers.
“I think the ‘Doctor Strange’ movie comes at a perfect time because everyone is talking about how cool the concept of the multiverse is, it’s not outdated,” Bock says.
Although “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” is below average for a Marvel movie, it actually has 79% of reviews on Rotten Tomatoes.
“We’re opening a box. There will be more storytelling opportunities in the future,” said Elizabeth Olsen, who reprises her role as Wanda Maximov.
“I think we’ve opened up new opportunities for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and I’m excited to see what we can do with that.”
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