Is ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ good for kids? A guide for nervous parents.
“Will our little ones be okay strange doctor? Seeing it described as a horror movie.”
I hadn’t thought too much about the family spirit of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness until a friend messaged me with this question. As a parent of a toddler myself, I’m surprised at how far director Sam Raimi has strayed from typical Marvel all-ages fare. But I’m not taking a two year old any movie, so it was a worried friend who made me think about the real-life reality of a parent taking their child on this unbalanced multiversal adventure.
Before we begin, let’s manage expectations. First, it’s not a spoiler dump. I’ll share a few minor details here and there, but nothing that will spoil any plot points, surprises, or blockbuster moments. That’s not what we’re doing here.
Second, it’s just an information pipeline. Every child is different, every parent-child dynamic is different. I wouldn’t dream of telling another mom or dad how to run their family. I just want to make sure you have the knowledge you need to make an informed decision so your little ones can rest without nightmares.
If you’re looking for an overview of questionable details that include information from the crowd of fellow moviegoers and a formal content classification system, check out Common Sense Media’s review. This is a website that every content-loving parent should have bookmarked.
A quick look at Sam Raimi
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness Director Sam Raimi is perhaps best known to Marvel fans as the filmmaker behind the Tobey Maguire trilogy of Spider-Man films from the start. But as any fan of Hollywood’s biggest cult films will tell you, some of Raimi’s best-known past work has gone to much darker places.
diabolical death (1981) and its two sequels, Evil Dead 2 (1987) and army of darkness (1992), are undeniably rooted in the horror genre. Though it’s all comedic low-budget affairs, the latter two in particular embracing campy comedy, the entire trilogy is filled with blood and guts and brutal acts of violence.
The Evil Dead series is not an outlier in Raimi’s body of work. Rather, all three films serve as proof of concept for the signature visual style that would define much of what the filmmaker followed. Raimi has a particular talent for filling his films with disturbing images. It’s rarely downright scary, as it’s also adept at turning the buildup of tension into a moment of fear with excitement and jaw-dropping metallic vibes. But as business cards go, this one oddly matches the Marvel way of doing things.
children and Doctor Strange 2: How is the violence?
It’s no exaggeration to say that the level of violence has skyrocketed in Raimi strange doctor after. It’s certainly not blood-soaked, but it’s not exactly bloodless either.
More than a few people die in this Marvel movie, not in the kind of widespread collateral damage like the Battle of New York in avengers, where everything happens in a supposedly off-screen fashion. In Multiverse, several key characters are killed off, and graphically so. There’s a fair amount of gunfire and some gore inflicted by the mild violence, including an early close-up of an unpleasant-looking leg wound. But it’s the death visuals that would concern me the most.
At one point, a character’s neck is broken, with a close-up framing the moment. Another death, which keeps the camera at a greater distance, sees a person torn apart as if their body had gone through a meat grinder. It’s entirely an all-CGI moment that’s completely devoid of blood, but it makes for an overwhelming visual.
That’s not a clue that Wong is burned out. But look! Blood!
Credit: Marvel Studios
The most disturbing on-screen death shows us a character’s face in extreme close-up as something seems to explode inside their skull. There’s minimal blood here, it has nothing to do with when the head explodes Scanners. But the close look at someone’s head suddenly and unnaturally extending in a very wrong direction is the kind of visual that sticks with you.
There are also a number of larger fight scenes that have resulted in gruesome deaths more than once. No effort is made to hide collateral damage. People are crushed and crushed by overwhelming concussive force in large groups. At least one character is graphically thrown across a room, its head and neck making a resounding crack when it hits the ground. Another character is completely set on fire, with a lingering gaze on their charred corpse afterwards.
Even with the most disturbing images having a somewhat sanitized feel, all is nonetheless the. Computer-generated effects can only clean up when capturing graphic death streaks.
children and Doctor Strange 2: How is the horror?
Whereas Multiverse of Madness is not a work of pure horror and not something I would describe as “scary”, there are moments and visuals that may not be suitable for all children. Most of it is simple, unsettling imagery, but there’s a fair amount of gore that isn’t an immediate result of on-screen violence and more of a jump scare.
There’s no way to really set up the jump alerts, beyond telling you they exist. I counted at least three or four, and depending on the viewer it could be more than that. The Raimi factor often makes these surprising moments work in a viscerally exciting way, but they are constructed using the language of horror cinema. If nothing else, be prepared for the possibility of a panicked child jumping into your lap.
The gruesome images are even more pronounced. Several trailers have featured brief looks at a character who’s best described as ‘Zombie Strange’ – he’s the eponymous Avenger, but his face is ashen, riddled with open wounds and partially decomposed, like that of a lesser corpse. than fresh.
Details of who they are and what role they play in the story aside, the so-called Zombie Strange is getting enough screen time for everyone to soak up the extent of the damage done to his face and his body. And it’s rough. Chunks of skin and muscle are simply missing from his lower jaw and one cheek, and extreme close-ups make it impossible to look away.
Raimi does some unexpected things with the character, so it’s fair to say that Zombie Strange isn’t a creature of pure horror. But that doesn’t make his deadly face any easier to see.
At another point, one of the film’s main threats magically chases another character into their family home. The whole unsettling sequence plays out like a tension generator, with everyday objects – like a happy photo of the owner – seeming to come to life and with murderous intent. In an earlier moment, we also see this same villain contort his body in impossible ways as he emerges from an unlikely object in a manner similar to the girl at the well in the ring.
These are the most notable examples, and they are an extended recap of what I presented to the relative friend who originally sought advice. In this case, the kids did just fine, and the movie hasn’t caused any nightmares (so far). But as I said up top – and as any parent will tell you – every child is wired differently. East Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness horror movie? Absolutely not. But he is a big step up from typical Marvel all-ages fare, making this perhaps the first MCU release worth considering age-wise.
‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ Spoiler-Free Review: It’s ‘Spider-Man’ Meets ‘Evil Dead 2’