‘Doctor​ Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ is Not a Horror Movie

Published on December 30, 2019

When Doctor Stranger in the Multiverse of Madness was announced, it was said the sequel would be Marvel Studio’s first horror movie. Scott Derrickson, who directed the first Doctor Strange, was expected to go back to his horror roots and deliver a comic book movie that goes big for the scares. Now, according to Marvel president Kevin Feige, the sequel isn’t exactly a horror movie. 

Not Quite Horror 

During a Q & A at NYFA, Feige said the movie has scares, but don’t expect a fun house of horrors with the comic book movie. Here’s Feige’s comment on the sequel (via Collider):

I wouldn’t necessarily say that’s a horror film, but it is, as Scott Derrickson, our director, has pitched it, it’ll be a big MCU film with scary sequences in it.

Derrickson broke out as a filmmaker with high-profile horror movies, such as Exorcism of Emily Rose and Sinister. Both were big hits, and more importantly, spooky as hell. A similarly haunting atmosphere for a comic book movie could be a fresh spin on a comic book movie, but unfortunately, horror the Doctor Strange sequel is not. 

The Classic References 

Feige isn’t saying the movie isn’t without its moments of horror, though. Like some classic ‘80s movies, Derrickson won’t be afraid to scare kids here or there in Doctor Strange’s next adventure: 

The way, when I was a kid in the 80s, Spielberg did an amazing job. I mean, there are horrifying sequences in Raiders that I as a little kid would [covers his eyes] when their faces melted. Or Temple of Doom, of course, or Gremlins, orPoltergeist. These are the movies that invented the PG-13 rating, by the way. It’s fun to be scared in that way, and not a horrific, torturous way, but a way that is legitimately scary, because Scott Derrickson is quite good at that, but scary in the service of an exhilarating emotion.

Hopefully, a few instances of horror can help Doctor Strange have a stronger identity as a character in the MCU. As enjoyable as the first movie was, parts of the origin story played as the MCU’s greatest hits. It was a very familiar comic book movie, despite its beautifully trippy settings and set pieces, and wasn’t quite distinct enough on its own. There’s room for more weirdness, experimentan, and strangeness, which isn’t exactly Marvel’s brand of storytelling.  

New Characters Getting Strange 

Doctor Stephen Strange isn’t the only MCU hero starring in his next standalone movie. Feige confirmed Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and other major characters from the MCU will show up in the sequel:

The next Doctor Strange film, for instance, features some new MCU characters which will be making their debut in that movie you won’t expect or won’t guess who it is, but we found a cool way to make it work because we want to make a particular type of movie there and there was a character who we always wanted to do something with who will fit really well there.

The Evolution of Doctor Strange 

Doctor Strange only came out three years ago, but with all the Marvel sequels and events in the Avengers, it feels like it’s been longer than that. Over that time, Doctor Strange has become more popular, funnier, and even a bit cooler, thanks to The Avengers movies.

After those movies, he got to take more flight as a character. With the sequel, now that he’s fully Doctor Strange and in the thick of it, hopefully Derrickson can start the sequel running and quickly get to all the horror and weirdness lurking in the multiverse. 

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness opens in theaters May 7th, 2021.

Jack Giroux is a Staff Writer at Grit Daily. Based in Los Angeles, he is an entertainment journalist who's previously written for Thrillist, Slash Film, Film School Rejects, and The Film Stage.

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