Wondering if Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is too scary for kids? This spoiler-free review will help you decide.
Last year my friend and fellow movie connoisseur Yolanda Machado, editor at Entertainment Weekly warned me to skip the final end credit scene during Spider-Man: No Way Home with my kids because it was a trailer for Doctor Strange 2. She told me Marvel was taking it in a darker, horror direction and I took her advice with a grain of salt. My kids did watch the trailer but I warned them that they probably wouldn’t be seeing it (lots of groans). I told them I’d watch it first then decide. All the while, in the back of my mind thinking worst case scenario I’d probably have them cover their eyes for a few parts. I was wrong.
What parents need to know about Doctor Strange 2 is that this is not on the same level of other Marvel Cinematic Universe films. This is not “Avengers level” violence or scary. This is intended to be a darker, horror film and it hits the mark.
I will admit that horror is not my genre of choice. The original Candyman gave me nightmares for years, so did The Ring. I can handle gore in period shows like Game of Thrones but I can’t stand it in slasher films. Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is more gruesome than gory and I’ll go into that in a moment leaving out character names. But first, my overall thoughts.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness Review
Where Spider-Man: No Way Home brought the multiverse to us, Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness takes us through the multiverse. The movie hits the ground running and doesn’t let up much right through to the end. But there’s more action than character development. I appreciated the brief moments of dialogue that were enjoyable and sometimes even surprisingly funny. But it has nowhere near the depth we saw in the first Doctor Strange film. By the end of this movie I felt like I’d just watched a bonus season finale to WandaVision. It is a wild wide but when it comes to depth, it’s pretty shallow. However the post-credit scene does introduce a new character and has me wonder where the might take it next.
The special effects are really fun and I enjoyed one fight sequence in particular involving music notes. My biggest gripe throughout the movie was the urgency of the tasks paired with walking. I kept asking “WHY ARE THEY WALKING?!” throughout the film. But I guess that goes to show I was on the edge of my seat.
I did love the introduction to America Chavez and the diversity throughout the film. There’s a mention of her moms, and she rocks a pride pin on her jean jacket. Representation is so important, and while my kids won’t be watching this until they’re older, I’m happy the horror-loving fans will get another dose of diversity in the Marvel franchise.
Is Doctor Strange 2 Scary for Kids?
Short answer, yes. But it depends how old your kids are. I took my 16-year-old Marvel-loving sister as my +1 to the screening and she admits she was looking off-screen during parts of the movie when she was scared. I myself covered my ears for parts where I anticipated a startle. The PG-13 rating is deceiving especially since all Marvel movies are rated PG-13. I’ve been fine with my 9 and 11-year-old watching all of them up to Spider-Man: No Way Home (with a fast forward through a section of Eternals) but Doctor Strange 2 is on a different level.
When it comes to scary parts, there are the usual Marvel-esque monsters plus several startling moments, demons, possessions and creepy characters. There were several times during the film I turned to my sister and said “this is creepy” and one time in particular where I grabbed her and said “ok, I’m scared.”
The movie starts off like a familiar Marvel film then continues to go darker and darker as it progresses.
My sister says the gruesome level is on par with The Woman in the Window (which I haven’t seen). I’d probably say violence wise it’s a notch above some X-Men movies, with creepy parts that gave me The Ring vibes. If you’ve seen the What If series, it will prepare you for the weird turn this takes, but in a more adult film. There isn’t much swearing, and no sexual content, it seems creators used every bit of the PG-13 rating on the violence and pushed it to the limit.
How Bad is the Violence in Doctor Strange 2
The body count starts stacking up early in this movie. Without getting into specifics of characters I’m going to list off some of the violence similar to the way I do for Common Sense Media to help you decide if it’s too violent for your family: Someone’s neck is cracked and broken in multiple places, someone’s head explodes/melts, someone is sliced in half with a shield. A bunch of people die.
If you and your kids have been watching horror movies since a young age and you’ve been waiting for the day Marvel went dark, you’ll likely love the turn in Doctor Strange 2. If you’ve been going down my Marvel Movie checklist and are just excited to cross the next one off the list, this might not be the one. In fact I’ll probably add an asterisk and disclaimer to this one.
In the grand scheme of the Marvel Cinematic Universe time will tell how critical this is in the continuity. Aside from the introduction to America Chavez I don’t think this will add that much more to future films. My kids asked me if their favorite characters were in the film: Black Panther (no), Thor (no), Spider-Man (no), Scarlet Witch (yes).
All that said, the movie is quite eye-catching, mind-bending and had me on the edge of my seat. I’m not dying to see it again and I don’t think it’s something my husband would be interested in. But it was entertaining, just scary enough for me, but not scary enough to have me screaming in the theater. I’d give the movie 3.5 stars. Nowhere near as good as Spider-Man: No Way Home but I enjoyed it more than Eternals.
I’d recommend going to see this movie on a date night or with some friends then decide if it’s something your kids can handle especially if they’re younger than 14. It’s the honest heads up I’d want to have before buying tickets for my family and walking out with some frightened kids. Maybe we’ll have better luck with Thor Love and Thunder.
Are you planning to see Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness?
Wondering how our review of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness might compare to yours? Here are some other movies we’ve reviewed:
- ‘SONIC 2’ MOVIE REVIEW
- ‘TURNING RED’ MOVIE REVIEW
- ‘SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME’ REVIEW
- ‘ETERNALS’ MOVIE REVIEW
- ‘GHOSTBUSTERS AFTERLIFE’ REVIEW
- ‘RON’S GONE WRONG’ REVIEW
- ‘VIVO’ MOVIE REVIEW
- ‘LUCA’ MOVIE REVIEW
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