Last weekend I saw “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” just as I wanted it, Marvel Studios, even though its title sounded like something H.P. Lovecraft would write and the Omicron sequel played just about everywhere.
This was my first movie in theater since November, and I went for the same reason I think most of us did: to see Professor Charles Xavier, founder of the X-Men, finally appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Then I killed him directly.
This, Marvel, is how it introduced mutants, the most interesting, diverse and socially relevant characters in all of the superhero comics, into the MCU: it took its founder, whose message of peaceful coexistence is often compared to that of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and cut his throat right in front of us. Not only that, she was murdered by Wanda Maximov, the Scarlet Witch, who in the comic books has been responsible for the complete annihilation of mutants and also mutant storylines for over a decade.
This, Marvel, is how mutants, the most interesting, diverse and socially relevant characters in all of the superhero comics, were introduced to the MCU.
How dare you, sir. If I had a glove, I would throw it on the floor, and it would be pistols at dawn.
The thing is, killing Professor X and the other Illuminati makes no sense. These are the seven characters who defeated Thanos by themselves. The existence of the entire universe was threatened by the incursion of another universe–Enjoy the next 10 years of stories, MCU fans!–and survived. But are they supposed to be unable to handle a single crazy wizard?
By God, how sad it is to describe Wanda Maksimov in this way. I’ve spent an entire season of TV and several movies building this compelling image of a woman who has suffered so much and slept through it all. Then all of a sudden overnight she completely lost her mind.
What’s worse, even Wanda herself did not choose these things; This evil scarlet thing you came up with is owning her. So, even as I made her more powerful than ever, she completely stripped her agency’s personality. No wonder actress Elizabeth Olson is pictured hiding in a bunker waiting for the whole thing to end. She took the MCU’s strongest female character – and perhaps also her best actress – and reduced her to the horrific stereotype of the hysterical woman. In the words of prophet Chandler Bing, could you be more afraid of strong women?
She took the MCU’s strongest female character – and perhaps also her best actress – and reduced her to the horrific stereotype of the hysterical woman.
That is why I needed to execute Professor X and his colleagues in front of us. Film co-writer Michael Waldron admitted: While he was writing the script, he told io9, he realized, “Man, my second job is kind of boring now, I’m going to write with all this crazy o-.” Well, mission accomplished, Michael.
“Multiverse” introduces America Chavez, the Latin girl who jumps into the universe and has two mothers, who is gorgeous in every way. This scene in which she and Dr. Strange fall between reality is absolutely remarkable; I’d like a full movie about the Marvel universe where it’s all just paint (#MPU), please and thanks. But everything around her was more stressful than Bubba pizza salesman Bruce Campbell after three weeks of having to attack himself. Wanda is trapped in the belt she’s forced to wear, and one thing that unfortunately seems to be true in every version of the MCU is that Doctor Strange is an absolute pill. It’s as if they took Tony Stark and surgically removed any trace of charisma. A stranger is someone who lacks a sense of humor and who knows everything with a terrible accent – no one in New York speaks that way, no one–Who insists on maintaining a really awesome dye job. Seriously, if you can do magic, why do you still dye your hair? Why in this strange and frightening way?
At the end of the day, the only true statement in the “multiverse” is the Illuminati’s assertion that in every universe, Doctor Strange turns out to be the destroyer of worlds. And the thing that kills him is my interest.
While Michael Waldron was writing the script, he told io9, he realized, “Man, my second job is kind of boring right now, I’m going to write all this crazy stuff…” Well, mission accomplished.
Marvel, I know you delight in a reaction like that. I asked the sweet octogenarian Sir Patrick Stewart, who has spent many months in lockdown reading all of us Shakespearean sonnets on Twitter, to make one of the most realistic versions of a headshot I’ve ever seen. I also blew Black Bolt’s head inside, this very weekend when Bolt actor Anson Mount’s groovy new Star Trek show “Strange New Worlds” came out, cutting Peggy Carter in two—In her own shield–—Precisely so that people would talk about the movie for weeks and months after it ended, they would remember it as being iconic despite the fact that it was already boring.
You even introduced Reed Richards, the lead of the Fantastic Four, and cast John Krasinki, who the Internet was clamoring to see in the role. In the little time I gave him, he provided a much more interesting and thoughtful portrayal of that character than we’ve seen on screen or in the comics. Instead of learning everything from another straight white male from Marvel, I’ve given us a man whose work seems to have left him impressed and so amazing and kind. You gave us that character, and then Wanda made him slice it like cheese.
I’m sure you think doing that makes you look punk and edgy. You took all the toys you knew fans wanted and then smashed them in front of us. I also eliminated a group of heroes more diverse than any of the Avengers teams that weren’t made up of at least twice as many people. Take that, wake up the snowflakes! But you don’t have to live with any consequences, because hey, it’s a multiverse. There’s a lot of Charles Xavier out there, right?
In all of pop culture, there is no group of heroes more diverse than the X-Men, nor any group of characters whose stories speak more to the struggles for justice we face in our society today.
But the world of your story is supposed to embrace hope where there is no hope. In every movie, you insist on putting the humanity of your characters at the center of their stories. And now you’re turning horrific acts of violence into Easter eggs and fury machines? what are you facebook
At some point in the not-too-distant future, you will properly present the world of the X-Men. And you might think you’d be able to chew their IP like locusts at an all-you-can-eat buffet. But the mutants have survived much worse than your dire need to continue making multi-billion dollar movies. They survived the ’90s comedy, where everything was massive guns and ridiculous bodies. They survived Marvel Comics CEO Ike Perlmutter insisting in the 2000s that his editors do literally nothing with X-Men characters for years, because 20th Century Fox owns the rights to the characters in the movies. Have you seen the movie “X-Men: Apocalypse?” they survived who – which.
You may have made Charles Xavier into your fool; By the way, this was probably the last time Patrick Stewart played this role, and you made him come out that way. Thanks a lot.
But the rest of that privilege won’t go down easily. And you shouldn’t want them to do that. You shouldn’t use mutant characters just to support a weak character or a tired franchise. In all of pop culture, there is no group of heroes more diverse than the X-Men, nor any group of characters whose stories speak more to the struggles for justice we face in our society today. These are tales of children who confront the fearsome acts of prejudice, and respond with courage and generosity. They are stories about embracing your differences rather than hiding them, and knowing that the things that make you different are what make you special and strong. The X-Men books show us where fear will take us as a society, and celebrate the ability of our existing communities to overcome, save, and renew them. These are the kinds of ideas Marvel celebrates.
Or at least, they are in some universe.