Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness Is The Most Gruesome Marvel Movie Yet

Sam Raimi is a director who has been primarily known for two things throughout his illustrious career: horror and superhero movies. The man behind "The Evil Dead" and the original "Spider-Man" trilogy is a master of his craft and, even though he's accomplished much outside of these genres (see "The Quick and the Dead"), these two categories are most closely associated with his filmmaking. And, perhaps more than any of us might have expected, "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" works as a pretty shocking marriage of the two. Even within the confines of the generally family-friendly Marvel Cinematic Universe, Raimi got violent and gruesome within the multiverse.

The film was rated PG-13 (as has been the case with every MCU entry to date) but earned its rating for "intense sequences of violence and action, frightening images and some language." It turns out that description was more accurate than we may have realized, with this ranking as Marvel Studios' most bloody entry to date. That warrants some discussion, to be certain.

Warning: spoilers ahead for "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness." Proceed with caution.

The multiverse is pretty gruesome, it turns out

"Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" doesn't waste much time in getting gruesome. The opening sequence sees a variant of Strange trying to steal the Book of Vishanti alongside America Chavez, and a multiversal beast carves up Strange pretty good. We even see the massive leg wound. Marvel tends to shy away from blood, but not in this case. And this is really just the start as violence of this sort is sprinkled throughout the entire movie. This was not a moment or two – it is a running theme.

Another big moment comes in the movie's next big set piece with the one-eyed starfish beast Gargantos attacking New York City. Doctor Strange and Wong managed to defeat the monster, with the beast's eye getting impaled and ultimately getting ripped out of its head onto the sidewalk below. Again, Raimi is not shy about actually showing this to the audience. It's not implied, it's all right there on front street. The other gigantic example comes much later in the film when the Illuminati are absolutely gutted by angry, possessed Wanda within the multiverse, as each member of the team is killed one by one. Black Bolt, in particular, gets it very bad as his mouth is sealed shut and his head literally caves in.

We also have the decaying Doctor Strange corpse that is reanimated through dream walking, lots of jump scares peppered throughout the film, and Sinister Strange getting killed by a fence post. It's quite honestly impressive that Disney allowed so much on-screen violence through the gates. But this is what Raimi is good at and, if you hire the guy who made "Evil Dead II" to make "Doctor Strange 2," maybe letting him do his thing isn't a bad way to go.

Wildly uncommon for the MCU

It cannot be emphasized just how uncommon and unexpected this is for the MCU. Let us not forget that "Avengers: Infinity War" saw Thanos wipe out half of the universe but so much of that death was relegated to people being turned to ash. There was hardly any actual bloodshed at all. Even with so many horrific events taking place over the 14-year lifespan of the MCU, so much of the overt violence has been implied or skirted around. It has pretty much never been on display so openly and so proudly.

That is not to say that Marvel movies have always skirted around the issue. The "X-Men" films often embraced violence. "X2" very famously did this within the confines of a PG-13 film with the scene that sees Wolverine taking out heavily-armed men working for Striker, using his claws in the most vicious way imaginable. Dudes die and we see them die. This would only be amplified years later in "Logan." Let us also not forget that "Deadpool" wore its violence like a badge of honor, which was indeed very true to the character. But doing this in an R-rated movie is one thing, doing so in a very PG-13 franchise is another thing entirely.

Was this a step too far?

I don't want to rain on anyone's parade here, as quite a few people seem to be enjoying Raimi's return to filmmaking, as well as the injection of his horror sensibilities into the MCU. That having been said, one can't help but wonder if letting Raimi off the chain on this level in a PG-13 movie within this franchise might have been a step too far in some ways. Primarily because the MCU, up to this point, has maintained a family-friendly nature even when it has been about pretty terrible things. Again, see "Avengers: Infinity War" or "Avengers: Age of Ultron." Lots and lots of implied violence, but not a lot of it is depicted visually and gruesomely on screen.

Imagine being a parent and taking your kid to see the new "Doctor Strange" movie having some expectations from the prior movies, but not necessarily being a film buff or someone who has been following the marketing for this movie all that well. Imagine, then, seeing some of these brutal kills and blood playing out in "Multiverse of Madness" while sitting in that theater with your kids. It might come as a bit of a shock, and it might not be the sort of thing that certain parents want their kids to see. There is no real need to get into a whole censorship conversation here, but it is certainly taking things a whole lot further than other movies within this franchise have. That is not to be dismissed out of hand. It is significant and might rub some people the wrong way.

As we rapidly approach 15 years of the MCU Kevin Feige and co. should absolutely continue to expand the scope of what these movies can be — including gruesome horror in some cases when it is called for. But that might also mean having to set some expectations for general audiences in the future because, let's be honest, there are probably quite a few people heading to theaters to see this movie who are woefully unprepared for the Raimi of it all.

"Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" is in theaters now.