The first look of Dr. Strange: In the Multiverse of Madness was a jaw-dropping spectacle. Standing up to his evil self and facing the consequences of a botched spell, our beloved sorcerer was facing unimaginable threats. Whether or not the film delivered as promised is a separate discussion. But it did leave us with a handful of precious moments. Moments that are life lessons and attempts at filling our hearts with new hopes and assurances. This article lists ten of them that stand out the most.
Spoilers ahead! If you have not watched the movie yet, I would suggest you stop reading beyond this point. But if you have watched it, let us revisit some of the moments with a fresh perspective.
1. Lessons About Growth: If you do not master your power, someone else will take it from you.
The MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) and Sony’s Marvel Universe have done an excellent job of establishing how great power brings great responsibility. What we also need to realize is great power is damaging if not harnessed appropriately. Moreover, when we fail to control that power, we become a magnet for predators and parasites. Case in point, America Chavez.
The little girl possessed incredible cosmic abilities. And yet, she was afraid and immersed in self-doubt. Even her well-wishers, including most Dr. Strange variants, thought it best to separate her from those abilities, lest it should fall into the wrong hands. Up until the decisive moments of the film, America only seemed to have three choices.
- Let the Scarlet Witch take away her power and wreak havoc across the multiverse.
- Let the sorcerers take away her power and lose every hope of ever finding her mothers.
- Die resisting the other options.
It was disheartening to watch her surrender and agree that sacrificing her gifts was the ideal solution. But then something changed. To our utter joy and surprise, Dr. Strange inspired her to embrace the gift and be the one calling the shots. It was her power and hence, her right to hold on to them, control them and eventually, master them. Anything other than that would have been exploitation!
2. Lessons about love: Love is a constant in the multiverse.
“I love you in every universe!”
Dr. Strange’s unexpected and heart-wrenching confession made us gasp and tear up simultaneously. This must be the most romantic and tragic expression of love in the MCU. What is amazing is that it is also the one line that redefines and renews the belief in soulmates. It makes us rethink the concept of “the one.” It is even more moving to realize that even Strange variants who had gone over to the dark side continued to be in love with Christine! It is a fascinating reminder of how people may change, but true love doesn’t.
This idea is further evident in the bond between Wanda and her family across universes. Good or evil, Wanda’s love never flickered. At this point, we might as well challenge the old rhetoric, “Change is the only constant.” Because love is another!
3. True love is not always about happily ever after.
Love has several parallel dimensions of its own. It is wrong to try and force it into one mold. Despite Dr. Strange’s yearning for one woman, he could not risk being with her. There were several factors at play that prevented their happy ending.
Similarly, Wanda’s love for her children could not be diminished even if she could not be with them. Both characters made their choices to protect their loved ones by stepping back. Loving from a distance, knowing that your loved ones are safe and happy, is also love. Perhaps it is not the kind of happily ever after we have grown up fantasizing about. But that does not mean it is not love-worthy of celebration.
4. Lessons For Hope And Peace: In a parallel dimension, you already have everything you ever wanted.
This is my ultimate favorite lesson from The Multiverse of Madness. If we allow our minds to believe in the concept of MCU’s multiverse, our entire outlook towards life can transform.
Every time we are upset or grieving, we can take hope in the fact that somewhere out there, there is a variant of ourselves who has had it all. Those variants are not grieving, and their stories have panned out exactly how we would have wanted. This idea is so powerful if we allow ourselves to believe in it.
Just like in so many universes, Wanda is reunited with her children, or Christine is at the peak of her career. Or how Professor X, Reed Richards, Captain Carter, and Captain Marvel are united (Insane wish fulfillment for Marvel nerds)!
So, in theory, we do get everything we ever wanted. Maybe not in this universe, maybe not in the way that is too obvious. But we get it nonetheless! Isn’t that comforting and optimistic?
And if our dreams are a glimpse into our variants’ lives, we get to live those realities in the current universe too!
5. Some of your favorite dreams might be a reality.
I teased this lesson in the previous point. Hence, consider it an extension of the same idea. Have you not, on occasion, woken up from dreams and felt sad that they were not a reality? Sometimes, dreams can be overwhelmingly enticing, and it hurts to get back to the real world if we are not in a great place emotionally. But guess what?
Believing in the multiverse takes away that hurt because, according to Dr. Strange, “Dreams are windows into the lives of our Multiversal selves.”
This means, as America puts it, “Somewhere out there, it’s real.”
6. Lessons About Empathy: “Good and evil” is an utterly subjective concept.
By now, we should have learned and admitted this as a fact. Could you, in all honesty, hate Thanos for his intentions? Did you not mourn Loki after the Endgame? Did the Star-Lord not fill you with loathing because of his impulsiveness during the Infinity War? And despite what Wanda did in Westview (the events of WandaVision), could you blame her? Personally, I cannot even blame her for causing the madness in the multiverse! Can you truly call an antagonist evil if she is driven by intense maternal longing? When her quest is not for power but fueled by grief?
How then do you draw the distinction between hero and villain?
Things cannot be black and white. Neither in the MCU nor in our real lives. People make mistakes, and each one of us is flawed. In that case, can we really claim to decide good from evil? We can take several moments to ponder over Wanda’s words:
“If you knew there was a universe, where you were happy, wouldn’t you want to go there?”
“You break the rules and become a hero. I do it and I become the enemy. That doesn’t seem fair.”
7. People deserve second chances.
Just because someone behaved a certain way in the past is no guarantee of their behavior in the future. That is why I have a problem with the so-called justice of the Illuminati. It made no sense to want to execute the new Doctor Strange just because the old ones had made mistakes with the Darkhold. It would have been extremely disappointing if Professor Charles Xavier had not stepped in and chosen to do things differently. His endearing smile with the following statement summarizes this lesson that I intend to remember for the rest of my life.
“Just because someone stumbles and loses their way doesn’t mean they’re lost forever. We will see what kind of Doctor Strange you are.”
8. Maternal love is magic.
How else would you define the strange balance inside of Wanda? On the one hand, she is capable of destroying realities just so she can be with her children. On the other, she is mellow as a purring cat even when her children accuse her of villainy. On the one hand, she cannot bear to relive the nightmare of separation every day. On the other, she is willing to let go of everything upon realizing that her children are loved and protected by another Wanda in another universe.
As Strange reminds her that she created her children using magic, her response sums it all up:
“That’s what every mother does.”
Washington Post put it perfectly when they stated that “Doctor Strange offers a fierce portrait of maternal longing.” There is beauty in this tragedy, but it is not entirely a tragedy if we choose to shift our perspective, going back to the lessons for hope and peace.
9. Lessons About Selflessness: Sacrifices are inevitable for the greater good.
Whether we come to terms with Tony Stark’s death or not. Whether we agree with Peter Parker’s final call in No Way Home or not. Whether we accept Vision’s fate or not. And whether we can move on from Black Widow’s decision or not, deep down, we know that it was all inevitable. Talk about choosing the lesser evil!
Doctor Strange: In the Multiverse of Madness highlights similar choices and reiterates the necessity of sacrifice. It takes unspeakable amounts of courage and willpower to keep one’s personal desires aside for the greater good. As Wanda does the same in the end, we cannot help but celebrate her as a true hero.
None of it is fair, and there is no point in glorifying suffering. But the extraordinary decisions made by our favorite superheroes are inspiring life lessons we must not forget.
10. Lessons About The Future: Major apprehensions about MCU timelines will be put to rest.
I am among those who were never comfortable with the concept of the multiverse initially. To begin with, it is an inconceivable possibility. Not to mention the many complexities that the layperson has to work hard to understand.
Flashback a few years, and I was also never happy with anyone playing Spiderman other than Tobey Maguire! Even though I made peace with it, it was more like a pebble in my shoe, constantly pricking me with a question, “Does that mean all the stories we grew up watching are canceled?”
The epic perfection of No Way Home finally answered the question to my satisfaction. Allow me to elaborate.
By introducing the Multiverse, Marvel accepted every reality. Therefore, while Tom Holland’s Peter Parker is real, so is Andrew Garfield’s, and of course, so is Tobey Maguire’s. No storyline and none of the earlier movies are, therefore, canceled.
Doctor Strange: In the Multiverse of Madness only reaffirms the above. In fact, it goes several steps further to drive its point home. Everything is possible, and everything is real. So, we do not need to choose one storyline or one timeline and be uncomfortable with the rest. It is really the best way to simplify what we thought was inconceivable.
Lesson learned: Every MCU timeline is independent and will be independent. At the same time, it will all fit into the central plot. There are few things as satisfying as that!
The visual extravaganza and the unusual plot twist right in the beginning were only the tips of the iceberg. Doctor Strange 2 delivers way more than that. While I would not claim to be entirely pleased with the movie, there are so many amazing takeaways that the film remains a must-watch chapter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Besides, Strange’s sarcasm, Marvel’s classic humor, and the exciting easter eggs were totally worth it. The cameos, evil Strange, horror-movie elements, and Strange with a ponytail were the icing on the cake.
What are your takeaways from the Multiverse of Madness? And what are your favorite moments from the movie? Do you think an alternate plot could have worked better?
Also, on a separate note, do you miss Stan Lee?
Let us know your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.