The Strangest Moments In Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness

This post contains major spoilers.

"Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" has finally arrived. The long, strange trip its promos promised is pretty much as weird as expected, though not necessarily in the way Marvel fans might have anticipated. It turns out the strangeness of "Multiverse of Madness" comes less from the multiverse itself — a concept that the movie only explores via a handful of alternate realities — and more from director Sam Raimi's knack for gonzo horror-comedy.

Fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe may well be disappointed that the film opts to play in only a few specific corners of its vast multiverse, but I for one relish all the freaky weirdness that's packed into its runtime. If we were to rank the most out-there moments in the MCU as a whole, a good chunk of them would belong to this movie. Raimi put plenty of his signature flourishes on this surprisingly hellish adventure, and the result is a movie so bonkers, it's tough to keep track of the chaos. 

So we'll do it for you! Here are the strangest moments from Marvel's latest and strangest offering.

Strange and America go universe-hopping

Though the movie doesn't dive deep into the wide spectrum of multiverses out there, we get a glimpse of a dozen or so of them the first time America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez) carries Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) through one of her star-shaped holes in time and space. The pair fly in slow motion through an ever-shifting landscape. Eventually, the universes fly by so quickly that it's impossible to catch them all.

A few universes that caught our attention include what appeared to be a black and white movie world, a world made entirely of colorful paint, and an underwater world from which the pair accidentally bring fish to the streets of New York. One world looks a bit like a blue-gray version of those old Windows pipe screensavers, while another sees Strange's face sliced into puzzle box-like cubes. It's a trippy but brief sequence that leaves the door open to many more trips outside Earth-616 in the future.

A familiar pizza ball vendor gets sprayed with mustard

When Strange and America land on Earth-838, they quickly discover some differences between their home world and this one. 838 is teeming green, with a cityscape overgrown by flowers and plants. More importantly, it also has pizza balls. America nabs a bowl full of pepperoni pizza circles before Strange even notices she's gone. She insists the pizza balls are free, because most universes have free food .. but an angry vendor says otherwise.

Because why not, the street vendor is played by none other than frequent Raimi collaborator Bruce Campbell. Campbell's character yells at the pair for not paying, and Strange squirts mustard all over him. He also uses magic to make the vendor punch himself repeatedly in his own face, a trick that Strange says will wear off in few weeks. None of this makes a ton of sense, but it's very funny, very strange, and very Raimi.

America sees a bee, yeets her moms into another universe

Ahead of the release of "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness," word got out that the movie had been banned in Saudi Arabia for including LGBTQ+ characters. Fans were pretty sure the headlines referred to America herself, since she's canonically queer in the comic books. But no, that would be too normal! This movie is strange, remember?! Instead, we get America's moms, unnamed characters who appear on screen for a brief, idyllic moment before being sucked into a multiverse vortex.

The moment comes via a memory that America relives on Earth-838. In it, she's a young girl picking flowers with her moms. They're putting flowers in one another's hair. It's all very cute. But then America sees a bee on her hand and screams, and her fear unleashes a power she didn't know she had. Her parents are ripped away from her in front of her eyes, into some unknowable other place. I liked "Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness," but for a studio with a pretty terrible track record of LGBT+ representation, this is a whole new level of ridiculous. The random details and bizarre tone shift of the scene are also extremely funny out of context. I hope it fuels years of memes to come.

Scarlet Witch dreamwalks

Most of the scares in "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" are gross-out body horror, but one scene sees the film take a more traditionally spooky approach. In the scene, Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) attempts a ritual called dreamwalking, which allows her to possess the body of a version of herself from another world. She starts to take over the life of another Wanda, who is enjoying a night in with her two sons.

This scene has a creeping uncanniness that literalizes the term strange, as Wanda begins to realize everything in her world feels suddenly off. She stumbles into the kitchen, disoriented, where she sees a photo of herself turn eerily in her direction. The peas on an abandoned dinner plate start moving of their own volition. In a teacup, a stormy sea roils. Then, finally, Scarlet Witch takes hold. This isn't one of the film's gorier scenes, but it's effectively freaky. Raimi shoots the house with lighting and camera angles that accentuate its unreality, and it's thrilling to see a sequence straight out of a horror movie smack dab in the middle of a Marvel film.

The Illuminati get KO-ed

In a scene that will no doubt become a litmus test for viewers' response to the new "Doctor Strange" overall, the movie gives viewers long-awaited cameos, only to rip them gleefully away again. On an alternate Earth, Strange meets The Illuminati, led up by none other than Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart). The team also includes an alternate version of Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Captain Marvel (Lashana Lynch), along with Captain Carter (Hayley Atwell), Black Bolt (Anson Mount), and, yes, John Krasinski's Reed Richards.

This is a mouthwatering smorgasbord of cameos and reveals for hardcore Marvel fans, which makes what comes next all the more wild. Scarlet Witch just absolutely destroys these heroes in a matter of minutes. Did you miss Professor X? Sorry, his neck's now been snapped in a liminal space where Scarlet Witch has Wanda's subconscious trapped under a pile of rubble. Waited years to see the Fantastic Four in the MCU? Well, wait longer, because this version of Mister Fantastic just got shredded. Nothing in this scream-inducing sequence is more shocking than the death of Black Bolt, which looks more like something out of "The Boys" than the squeaky-clean MCU. When a member of the Illuminati tells Wanda he could kill her just by opening his mouth, she says, "What mouth?" The camera pans down to reveal she's made the guy's orifice disappear. He tries to speak, and it backfires into his own skull, deflating his head like a punctured volleyball. Strange? Sure. It's also the most metal the MCU has ever been.

Doctor(s) Strange fight with musical notes

The stranger elements of "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" tend to hew less towards the whimsical and more towards the slight nightmare fuel variety, but near the film's end, Raimi takes a break from the madness to let composer Danny Elfman shine. When Strange meets a version of himself who's been driven to chaos by the Darkhold, the same dark magic text that turned Wanda into a Big Bad, the pair engage in a reality-bending fight within this Strange's decrepit mansion home.

The fight is actually more grounded than you might expect, except when the pair start throwing literal music notes at one another. The notes dance in the air, lit up in outlines of glowing colors, before being flung across the room. When they crash into an opposing set of notes, they form a line of music, and as the fight crescendos, so does the symphony of weaponized notes. It's a cool, weird idea that doesn't exactly feel like it fits with the rest of the movie (maybe in a good way?). The battle ends when Sinister Strange is hit by a single stray but powerful note from a nearby harp.

Zombie Strange's coat of many demons

Okay, remember a few paragraphs ago when I said Black Bolt getting casually merc'ed by Scarlet Witch is the most metal thing the MCU has ever done? That's still true, but I think Zombie Strange flying toward the final showdown in a cape made of demons could take second place. By this point in the movie, it kind of feels like Raimi is just finding ways to do the edgiest stuff he can in case he never gets the chance to infiltrate Marvel again, and it works.

The movie set up a Schroedinger's corpse situation early on when Strange buried a dead, ponytailed version of himself on a rooftop on Earth-616. When he decides to dreamwalk himself, he knows just the corpse for the job, and a zombified, half-rotten Strange busts out of his grave to face down Scarlet Witch at Mount Wundagore. As he's dragging his carcass in her direction, a bunch of pitch black, frayed-looking demons appear to yell at him for committing necromancy. Instead of talking it out with these Souls of the Damned, Strange wrastles them into a sort of a cape-shape and uses them to fly the last leg of the journey. As with much of this movie, this objectively makes little sense but subjectively looks really, really awesome.