This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Juliette’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
“This time, it’s gonna take more than killing me to kill me.”
Let’s get a few things out of the way. Firstly, I wasn’t really planning on seeing this, but a bunch of friends were going and I like the movies so I thought it would be a fun night out. Two, I haven’t seen Wandavision, or What If…?, or even the first Dr. Strange. I’ve pieced together a fair amount of knowledge about each of them simply from having friends who are Marvel buffs and being on the internet/social media, but I’ve never watched them in their entirety. For the most part I understood what was happening in this movie, but it didnt have much emotional impact because I was hardly invested in any of the characters. I haven’t been following them on their journeys. That said, I don’t have anything to add to the convo in terms of their character development/arcs (I know a lot of people are upset about Wanda’s treatment).
And it honestly reminded me why I don’t watch Marvel movies, because I really didn’t like it. I know it’s supposedly “different” from the others but….I don’t know I just can’t get on board. I think a large part of my issue had to do with the writing. Most of the jokes fell flat- I laughed more at moments that were supposed to be serious (god bless the old man I could hear cackling in another part of the theater for letting me know I wasn’t alone). Was Strange’s pep talk with America at the climax supposed to be heartfelt, because all I could think about was how dumb he looked as a zombie. Some lines were flat out cringe (see line at the top). I also felt like they could have done a better job weaving in the exposition. I understand that there was a lot of conceptual groundwork that needed to be laid in terms of how the multiverse works, the Darkhold, etc, but so much of the dialogue was chunks of magic mumbo jumbo and technical jargon- my heart goes out to Benedict Wong, who was saddled with reciting the majority of it. A hardcore fan might appreciate these intricacies, but they overwhelmed me (similar to the complicated space politics of Dune). The pacing felt wonky, like so much was happening and yet nothing was happening.
I do not know Black Bolt from the comics, so all I could think when he appeared was “who is this dude with a fork on his head?” I usually like Danny Elfman but his score was just not doing it for me- also, I will never forgive him for the cursed ice cream song that Wanda’s children sing. I did, however, enjoy the introduction of America Chavez, who diversifies Marvel’s line up with both her Latina identity and LGBTQ background. She feels promising, considering Marvel’s female heroes have mostly been killed off (Gamora, Black Widow) or unsuccessful (Captain Marvel) at this point.
I’m stuck between liking and disliking Wanda’s vilification. On the one hand, I like when movies aren’t afraid to take fan favorite characters and make them evil (I’m still mad we didn’t get to see Rey turn to the dark side for a period in the Star Wars sequels). Sometimes, villains are just more fun than the heroes. And Wanda did not hold back! She kicked some serious ass, which was really fun to watch. I can’t say I’ve never wanted to infiltrate someone’s mind and snap their neck from the inside…I’m fine guys, I swear.
On the other hand, though, I feel like Wanda’s turn as the Scarlet Witch starts to slip into the age-old, unfortunate trope of the “madwoman”, a female figure so distraught by some loss that she goes insane and becomes violent. This is especially because her madness is directly related to her children. The male-written script seems to suggest that motherhood is the most important factor of a woman’s life, and without it she is broken, so broken she has no choice but to murder hundreds of innocent people out of anger. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen an Avenger turn rageful and lash out (Spider-Man’s violent outburst at Green Goblin during the climax of No Way Home, Star Lord screwing up the whole plan to defeat Thanos after learning of Gamora’s death, etc). This also isn’t the first time an Avenger has used their powers selfishly and had them backfire (Peter and Strange’s memory spell causing an incursion in No Way Home). People seem to forgive these male heroes for their faults, but when Wanda does the same, it makes her evil- she even points this out during the film. All that said, I fear Wanda exemplifies the toxic archetype of the overly-emotional woman that society fears because of her powers. Women are too sensitive and when they let their feelings get the better of them, they become dangerous….this is the same argument conservatives use to claim that women shouldn’t become president…interesting to note that those thematic undertones are present in this film.
I really think it would benefit the MCU to slow down. The pace at which they’re pumping out content constantly can only result in one thing- crash and burn. The past six months alone have given us No Way Home, Moonknight, and Multiverse of Madness, and there’s still a steady stream of projects heading down the pike way for the latter half of 2022. Disney seems convinced that if they lower their break-neck speed even slightly, people will lose all interest in the franchise. They think they need to throw shows and movies at people incessantly to hold their attention. Now the execs at Disney might know more than me, but I honestly believe the opposite is true- at this rate, even hardcore marvel fans are experiencing some form of whiplash or burnout. The Star Wars franchise is currently operating at 1/3 of the speed of the MCU, and even still I feel fatigued by it at times. How much of one form of media can you consume before it’s just too much? Focus on one or two really solid projects a year. Less is more, in my opinion.
legitimate question, where the hell was Peter when that big octopus was tearing up NYC- they could’ve used Spider-Man backup!