Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness Has The 'Flavor Of Horror,' Sam Raimi Teases

Sam Raimi's "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" is a highly-anticipated MCU entry, with the prospect of the multiverse opening endless, maddening possibilities (and presenting variants of familiar characters). However, somehow, it gets better.

In an exclusive interview with Fandango, Raimi has revealed that "Multiverse of Madness" has the "flavor of horror," making it the first Marvel film with elements that are spooky and maybe straight-up terrifying. And Raimi is certainly someone who knows a thing or two about horror. 

The multiverse holds many horrors

"Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" is bound to be a film that is wide in scope. It will deal with the direct repercussions of the events that took place at the end of "Spider-Man: No Way Home," which saw the multiverse break wide open thanks to a magic spell gone wrong. Now Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), no longer Sorcerer Supreme, will have to seek the help of his allies, such as (possibly) America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez) and Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen), to fix the multiverse.

While the question of Wanda herself and the path she might take is shrouded with mystery, the opening of the multiverse cannot be a good thing — sinister variants lurk at every corner and timelines have branched on their own accord. The absolute chaos of the situation opens the door for "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" to tap into the horror genre; after all, what's more frightening than the unknown? 

Raimi, who is beloved among genre fans for his schlocky horror films like "Drag Me to Hell" and the "Evil Dead" franchise, clarified Marvel chief Kevin Feige's previous statement claiming fans of "Evil Dead II" will be happy with the upcoming film, saying that while it will not be an all-out horror film (of course, no chainsaw hacking in the MCU), it contains elements of the genre throughout:

"I think what [Kevin] meant, from my point of view, is that this film has a flavor of horror to it. I think when the original director, Scott Derrickson, and Kevin promoted the coming of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, they said that it was going to be the first Marvel superhero film that had an element of horror to it. I hope I'm not misquoting them. But even after Scott left the picture due to creative differences, that was still the mandate — to make the first Marvel film that had an element of horror. So, I kept true to their original statements.

I think that's what Kevin means, because it is spooky at some times and scary at others. It's unknown what you'll find in the multiverse. It's within that unknown that suspense and darkness exists. A tool to titillate the audience's fear. Plus, Doctor Strange in the comics has always dealt in universes and dimensions that were quite spooky, so we tried to bring some of that into this film."

That sounds intriguing, to say the least, and as Raimi himself has commented about titillating audience fears, "Multiverse of Madness" might just be able to achieve that to good end. With variants of Strange's ex-lover Christine running around (and vanishing), and the possibility that dark entities may enter Strange's world at any given moment, the narrative might indeed take a darker, more sinister turn.

When it comes to campy horror, Raimi is the man

Raimi's origins in horror filmmaking truly started with his 1978 short, "Within the Woods," which went to pave way for his most popular offering, "The Evil Dead." The film emerged as a template for madcap horror (although it is not nearly as schtick-y as his later films), with the gore filmed to be deliberately exaggerated, leading to sequences that are hilarious and genuinely unsettling at the same time. This genre-hybridity seeped into Raimi's "Spider-Man" films as well as later films like "Drag Me To Hell," making for movies that are enjoyable, action-packed, funny, and tense all at once.

A case in point is the hospital scene in "Spider-Man 2," in which Dr. Otto Octavius's mechanical arms are about to be sawed off by a group of doctors. The arms, reacting out of a sense of self-preservation, proceed to grab the doctors one by one and kill them off in brutal fashion. There is something both mildly campy yet deeply disturbing about the doctors screaming for their lives, being dragged offscreen, and being absolutely defenseless against Otto's killing machine — a throwback to Raimi's horror roots contained within a superhero movie setting.

While this alone proves that Raimi will be more than capable of introducing horrific elements in "Multiverse of Madness," the director has worked on a long list of films that embrace horror in the superhero genre. His 1990 film, "Darkman" comes to mind, which was Raimi's homage to Universal's horror films of the 1930s, and follows a man who develops superhuman abilities after a brutal attack, after which he is hell-bent on revenge at any cost. Coming to his "Evil Dead" legacy, Raimi's 2013 remake of the film proved his talents in directing more serious, blood-curdling horror, as the film replaced the original's absurd gore with truly unnerving violence and terrifying sequences.

We'll see in which direction "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" falls when it hits theaters on May 6, 2022.