Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness shows around10 different universes, but we only get a fleeting view of most of these.
Now that Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness has opened to packed houses the world over, hardcore fans of MCU as well as new converts can’t get enough discussing and dissecting the latest adventure of Benedict Cumberbatch’s sorcerer superhero. Briefly, Sam Raimi’s sequel to the 2016 hit, Doctor Strange, is set against the backdrop of the multiverse being thrown open after the titular superhero accidentally cast a spell that went out of control.
One of the fallouts of the action is alternate versions of various characters, including Doctor Stephen Strange himself, spill into universes beyond their own. At the core of the caper is America Chavez, a teenage girl played by Xochitl Gomez who can travel between dimensions and universes. Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) wants America’s power, even if it means having to kill the young girl. The film’s story takes off as Doctor Strange decides to escape with America to a different dimension in order to protect her.
In the course of fleeing from Scarlet Witch, Strange and America traverse various universes of the multiverse. We get to see several universes through the film’s runtime, though only a few of these are given any sort of detailed portrayal within the plot. While it is intriguing to see how bizarre some of the Strange universes actually are, many comic book fanboys have expressed that they would have loved to see a little more of some of these universes in the film. Many casual moviegoers, on the other hand, were left somewhat confused by the insufficient explanation as to why these universes were only fleetingly shown as part of a single sequence, as Strange and America travel across dimensions.
Among universes that particularly evoked curiosity, and many fans felt needed bigger screen time in the film, is the Paint Universe — one where everything, including people, acquires a bright multi-hued, two-dimensional painted form. Other universes that have garnered interest include one where everything and everyone is made up of cubes, and one where the world is overrun by gigantic bees. These are universes that would have made for great visual effects as well as imaginative plot progression, had the narrative incorporated them.
In the film America reveals she has visited 73 universes, though the storyline takes us through less than dozen. Here is a ready reckoner on all the universes shown in detail or with fleeting footage in the film, based on what we know of them from the pages of Marvel Comics. Maybe, Doctor Strange and company will make a lengthier stopover in a few of these exciting universes in the sequels to come.
THE SPACE BETWEEN WORLDS
Strictly, this does not qualify as a universe although it is one of the most significant aspects of the multiverse. It is the zone that separates various dimensions and universes, and the dazzling domain we get to see right at the start of the film. The Space Between Worlds is the realm where The Book Of Vishanti, which counters the Darkhold, lies.
Put simply, this is the home base of all Marvel adventures. It is the world as we know it with real cities, countries, history and geography of planet Earth, plus a few fictional additions such as Wakanda (Black Panther’s country) and Genosha (the island base of mutants in X-Men: Dark Phoenix). In the film, this is where the story takes off after Doctor Strange cuts short attending Christine’s wedding to rescue America Chavez, who is being chased by a giant one-eyed octopus.
AMERICA CHAVEZ’S UNIVERSE
Strange and America never go to her home universe, but we get to see the place as a hologram when she revisits past experiences using a Memory Bank in one of the dimensions of the multiverse. America’s memory vision shows us she lived in a gorgeous world with her two mothers.
We get to see this dimension only for a few seconds, as part of the sequence where Strange and Chavez are rapidly travelling across several universes. The quick glance reveals the realm is inhabited by robotic beings. On cue, Strange and America look like robotic versions of their selves for that short time span.
At one point of Strange and America’s travel across the universes, we see dinosaurs in the background — notably, a menacing T-Rex. The allusion is to Marvel’s Dinosaur world, a parallel comic book universe created by Jack Kirby where prehistoric creatures cohabit with primitive humans.
This is an intriguing timeline where living beings and objects alike are made of colourful paint. The universe is visible for a few seconds. During a conversation afterwards, America tells Strange they were merely sentient paint in the particular world. She jokes that eating would seem like a tough act if you were a blob of paint.
A clip of this universe was used in the trailer, probably because director Sam Raimi, known to be a master of horror, felt the visual impact of Strange’s look in this timeline was terrifying and tantalising at the same time. The dimension makes for stunning CG since everything and everybody is made of little cubes in motion.
Shown for just a few seconds during the multiverse travel of Strange and America, we don’t get much detail about this world. It could be the world of Namor, or The Sub-Mariner, the mutant who can fly.
This is a world where bees as large as humans live in huge hives. It is one of the worlds that Strange and America pass, with footage worth only a few seconds being allotted to the timeline. The bee universe seemed like a visually spectacular place, although script of the film merely uses it as a fleeting backdrop.
One of the more important locales in the story, because this is where Doctor Strange meets the Illuminati, a secret superhero society. Without giving away spoilers, the sequence leads to the introduction of several Marvel heroes in superhero cameos. This is also where Strange comes to know that in another dimension he has committed unlawful activity.
The final dimension of the multiverse depicted in the film is the darkest of all, and director Sam Raimi serves it up with horror relish. The visual impact is a sinister one, and the sequence is edited to accommodate jump scares. Shot in sombre tones, the timeline could remind Raimi fans of his Evil Dead films although the horror quotient here is suitable for young adult viewing.
Vinayak Chakravorty is a critic, columnist and film journalist based in Delhi-NCR.
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Inside Doctor Strange’s Multiverse: All the universes shown in Marvel’s new superhero film-Entertainment News , Firstpost
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