SPOILERS FOR A RECENTLY RELEASED MOVIE
FULL SPOILERS AHEAD
I’ve wanted to get a tattoo for ages now–don’t worry, this will eventually tie in. My main problem is that I haven’t come up with an idea worth the time and money to get it permanently put on my body. They say you should sit on a tattoo idea for a while before pulling the trigger, and the only ideas I’ve held onto that long are comic references. Like, Lantern Corps symbols from Green Lantern, or something X-Men related. Hell, Cyclops’ visor could be cool. But I can’t bring myself to get a tattoo of a property I have absolutely no say over how the story goes, in part because you never know when your favorite character might become a monster. Like, imagine getting a Daenerys Targaryen tattoo–or naming your daughter after her–and then seeing how her story ends in Game of Thrones. And on that note…
Dr. Strange has to leave Christine Palmer’s wedding–she moved on while he was dust–to stop Gargantos, a tentacle monster trying to nab a girl/MacGuffin named America Chavez (Ms. Xochitl Gomez). America has the power to travel the multiverse, but has no control over it. Everyone wants her power, including the alternate reality Dr. Strange she had teamed up with who is now a corpse. Strange goes to Wanda Maximoff for help, but it turns out that after getting the Darkhold in WandaVision, she’s gone pretty evil and wants America’s powers so she can be reunited with her children. Decent goal, but the amount of murder is a bit much. The Scarlet Witch kills so many people trying to get to America, but the girl and Strange escape to an alternate reality where their Strange died heroically defeating Thanos. Only… not.
Turns out instead of the Avengers, Earth-838 has the Illuminati. Members include Sorcerer Supreme Mordo, Captain Carter (Hayley Atwell more or less reprising her role from the first episode of What If…?), Captain Marvel (Lashana Lynch, who was Maria Rambeau in Captain Marvel), Black Bolt (Anson Mount, who played the character in the poorly received Inhumans show), Professor X (Patrick Stewart from the OG X-Men movies), and Reed Richards, AKA Mr. Fantastic (John Krasinski). No Tom Cruise Iron Man, but still! Unfortunately for me, the only surprise was Captain Marvel–Patrick Stewart confirmed he was in it, rumors about Mount and Krasinski were all over, and people noticed Captain Carter’s shield in one trailer. But it was a bunch of fun cameos, even though they all die horribly.
Oh, right, back to the plot. Our Wanda possesses the Wanda of that reality and brutally murders the Illuminati. Strange escapes with the Earth-838 Christine Palmer while America is captured by Wanda, who is very, very, very slowly killing the girl and stealing her power. After encountering an evil Strange corrupted by the Darkhold (similar to the one in What If…? episode 4), our Strange uses the evil book to possess the Stephen Strange corpse on his Earth to fight Wanda. America finally learns to use her power, and basically shames Wanda into giving up when the Scarlet Witch sees how terrified her children are of her and what she’s done. Wanda destroys all the Darkholds across the multiverse and apparently kills herself, although I don’t think anyone truly believes that. America continues to train her powers, and the last shot of the movie proper shows that using the Darkhold even once has permanently tainted Strange’s soul.
The mid-credits scene is the sudden appearance of a woman from the Dark Dimension comic fans will recognize as Clea (and movie fans will recognize as Charlize Theron). She’s there to grab him to fix an incursion he made, which is… it’s a whole thing from the comics, but basically it’s when two realities go head-to-head and only one survives (if they’re lucky). Yeah, go fix that, man. The post-credits is just a little gag with Bruce Campbell, because this is a Sam Raimi horror/superhero movie so of course he had a cameo.
Wanda’s descent into utter evil was spoiled for me because SOMEONE on Twitter who I will not name (although I did unfollow him because rude) was so upset by the decision that he apparently couldn’t contain his anger. And I get it. Wanda was made to be such a sympathetic character in part thanks to WandaVision that seeing her become a multiverse-level threat hellbent on killing everyone in her way is jarring. Some people could even call it character assassination. And I don’t want to discount anyone feeling that.
…but that being said, we don’t own Scarlet Witch. We have no say over how her story goes. Sure, enough fan backlash could companies walk back some of her atrocities–something that tends to happen with her in the comics a lot–but that doesn’t mean we get to dictate where she’d go from there. Sometimes your favorite character suffers pointlessly and all you can do is watch. As for me, I’m a little jaded by the point. Cyclops died off-screen in X-Men: The Last Stand and died off panel in the comics after everyone hated him; Emma Frost died between movies after X-Men: First Class with confirmation of her death a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment; and the movies have tried telling The Dark Phoenix Saga (1980) twice to increasingly worse results. Wanda Maximoff is prepared to do universal genocide in order to get her kids back? All aboard the misery train! All your favorites will either die or live long enough to become villains!
But as for the movie itself, I liked it. I’ve been wanting a superhero horror movie, and this is the closest we’re probably going to get (sorry not sorry, Morbius). It’s director Sam Raimi at his Raimiest, which for me is a plus. Danny Elfman on the score was mostly good, but at times the soundtrack got a little distracting–and that was before the music fight. But I mean, they played a snippet the X-Men: The Animated Series theme when Professor X showed up. That’s a 10 outta 10 moment right there. And while I’m never a fan of characters being just obvious MacGuffins, I generally enjoy their story after that’s resolved. America Chavez has a future in the MCU–most likely as part of some Young Avengers project–and I eagerly await that.
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