I Really Wish Doctor Strange And The Multiverse Of Madness Looked More Like A Sam Raimi Movie

When it was announced that Sam Raimi would be directing the next "Doctor Strange" movie, my excitement was through the roof. Raimi has a uniquely kinetic visual style that could take the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a decidedly weirder direction. So why does the teaser trailer for "Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness" look like almost every other Marvel movie or TV show, with just a sprinkling of Raimi's filmmaker flavor on top? Sure, it's only a teaser trailer, and the marketing folks are saving some of the wackier bits for the full trailer, but something still feels a little too vanilla.

This Isn't Raimi's First Spooky Superhero Rodeo

Most people know about Sam Raimi's "Spider-Man" trilogy, but did you know his first superhero movie was actually the grotesque Universal banger "Darkman," way back in 1990? "Darkman" was Raimi's original creation, a superhero in a horrific world that riffed heavily on the Universal monsters and classic noir comic heroes like Batman, The Shadow, and The Spirit. Liam Neeson stars as a man left for dead after his girlfriend (Frances McDormand) upsets the wrong group of gangsters. He's burned alive, and though he survives, he's horribly disfigured. An attempt to treat his burns instead gives him superpowers (and some Jekyll-and-Hyde instability), and he uses these newfound gifts to get revenge on those who wronged him. "Darkman" is a brutal and very adult flick, and one of the first R-rated superhero stories. It proved Raimi could create a unique superhero, and his trademark zany style from the first two "Evil Dead" movies translated well to something more action-oriented. 

With the "Spider-Man" movies, Raimi had to be a bit more restrained. There are moments where his signature style shines through, most notably in the hospital sequence in "Spider-Man 2." One of Raimi's greatest gifts as a filmmaker is his use of the camera almost as a character itself. Many directors use camera action to mimic the eyes of the viewer, but Raimi zooms his shots around like a fly cranked up on Red Bull, and it's a blast. That frenetic, kinetic shooting style, mixed with his tendency toward quick-cut edits and creative transitions, make him the perfect director to bring comic book stories to life. 

There is Hope

While the tone of the trailer felt too tame overall, there were moments where I saw hints of Raimi's visual style. The director loves framing characters using their reflections in unusual ways, something he started as early as his first feature, "The Evil Dead," in 1981. Strange looking at himself in the face of a broken watch is pure Raimi, and it gives me a bit of hope. There's plenty of bright color whenever Strange and the other multiverse-traversing folks are bouncing around spacetime, which looks like a great deal of fun, but scenes in the "real world" feel somewhat dull by comparison. At least the fight sequence looks like pure "Spider-Man"-era Raimi, which is still more creatively unconventional than most other big blockbuster superhero films. 

Doctor Strange provides a perfect playground for Raimi to go wild, and I only hope that Marvel didn't temper his magic madness too much. Let's hope things get appropriately weird when "Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness" teleports into theaters on May 6, 2022.