“It’s 2022: Why are we still being asked to see powerful men as heroes and powerful women as scary?”
Benedict Cumberbatch is back in his crazy cape and spinning hand gestures for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madnessand critics react accordingly.
A sequel to the 2016 movie Doctor StrangeOur titular hero is resolutely in love and attends the wedding of old flame Christine (Rachel McAdams) before taking to the streets of NYC to take on a giant octopus. Secure.
Later, he encounters a teenage girl named America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez), who just happens to possess the power to traverse multiple universes. Then we have Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen), who has become the evil Scarlet Witch and spends the entire movie desperately trying to get into the universe where she is a suburban housewife with two rowdy sons because in the end that’s all women really want , isn’t it?
As you can imagine, that Wanda plot has come under fire from more than one critic since its premiere last week.
Here’s a rundown of the ones that caught our eye.
Vulture: “Completely sexist”
“Dreams are windows into the life of our multiverse selves, and for Wanda, her dream means being a suburban housewife,” writes. Vulture‘s Anjelica Jade Bastien† †Without Vision, or any suspicion of Wanda’s desires beyond her children, this dream seems even more claustrophobic.”
She adds: “Apparently Wanda – an immensely powerful witch who can bend reality – just wants to be a mother. It is her only devouring need, and if not met, she loses her mind, leading to death and destruction for everyone around her.”
“Marvel is cunning in the way it projects the semblance of meaningful representation into its stories, be it the totem royalty of black Panther, or the glimpse of queer people in Eternals† If they make white women so dirty, how can the rest of us expect better?’
The daily dot: “Everything Wrong with the MCU”
The daily dot made a special point of America Chavez’s disappointing characterization, which in the comics is meant to be less impressionable and quirky. “While Xochitl Gomez is very sympathetic in her own right,” they write, “America spends most of the film unable to use her powers, relying on Doctor Strange for protection and guidance.”
She’s wide-eyed and vulnerable, a characterization pick from Disney characters that also desexualized her comic book role. The MCU took a cool, independent, queer Latina superhero and sanded down all the hard edges that made her interesting.
The reviewer adds that the sequel makes both Wanda and America dirty, writing both characters using the trope of “magical women who are simply too powerful for their own good.”
Jezebel: “Portion Game of Thrones Sexism”
Wanda’s fate reminds me of Daenerys Targaryen’s in the final season of Game of Thrones writes Kylie Cheung from Jezebel† †Both stories show power corrupting once beloved female characters, who are then demonized and eventually discarded. It’s 2022: Why are we still being asked to see powerful men as heroes and powerful women as scary? Why are female characters only nice when they are having a hard time and being weak?”
“The plot of women becoming psychotic, unable to control their own emotions, serves the same energy of male pundits who often warn us that if we have a female president she will destroy the entire world if she has a bad day or is on her period.”
She adds that both The Scarlet Witch and Daenerys “are female characters in massive, blockbuster fantasy stories who are embraced as sympathetic, sympathetic protagonists when they are powerless or struggling. But how they are presented to the public changes completely when they to do gain power; they become the villains, terrifying and ruthless, and are therefore almost immediately unceremoniously cast aside.”
The Toronto star: “The Scarlet Witch in the Multiverse of Misogyny”
Jaime Weinmann says that unlike the critically acclaimed WandaVisionwhere creator Jac Schaeffer “was able to provide a nuanced picture of Wanda and her strengths and weaknesses”, her cinematic counterpart (by screenwriter Michael Waldron) has failed miserably, spawning another story in which a woman with too much power cannot be trusted and is rendered irrational by her obsession with children.
“It may be that to get inside the head of a powerful woman, you need a woman with strength.”