It seems to me that the latest sci-fi/fantasy trend in movies is the theme of multi-verses. I recently managed to watch 3 such theme-related movies (haven’t seen the animated Spider-man: Into The Spider-Verse) and it was interesting the takes on the multiverse that each one took. Oddly enough the more down to earth storyline of the three that I watched (Everything Everywhere All At Once) seemed to be the one more oriented in the rules of sci-fi. Both Marvel movies used magic as the foundation for their multi-verse storylines.
So as stated, both epic Marvel movies (Spider-Man: No Way Home and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness) used magic as the base and launching point into the multiverse. With Spider-Man, Peter Parker was revealed as Spider-man while also framed as a villain and no one in S.H.I.E.L.D. or the remaining Avengers spoke to his defense. So left to his devices Peter came up with an idea, ask Doctor Strange to make everyone forget his identity as Spider-Man.
So far so good, right? Well, Peter immediately remembered that there are some select people he wants to still remember his identity, while Doctor Strange was in mid-spell. Long story short, the spell got botched and somehow this faulty memory spell opened up Peter’s version of Earth to other versions. Enter cameos of Alfred Molina, Toby McGuire, Andrew Garfield, Jamie Foxx, etc., reprising their roles from previous Spiderman movies. In the end, to rectify this SNAFU, Peter Parker acknowledges that the original forgetfulness spell needs to be executed without any amendments. Doctor Strange does the spell, everyone forgets who Peter Parker is and all is well with the world.
Then comes the Doctor Strange movie. In this film, there is a girl, America Chavez who has this uncontrollable ability to jump between multi-verses. This ability was triggered when she was young and was scared about being stung by a bee. This fear triggered her first multiverse portal that sucked in her parents and they were lost forever (as far as we know). Because of her ability, she’s being chased by demons, The film starts with her running alongside a Doctor Strange variant who is trying to get to the mythological book of Vishanti to fend off the demon that is chasing them. The battle looks fruitless and it seems the only solution is to kill America and take her powers before the demon does. Apparently this isn’t the first Doctor Strange variant to come to this conclusion. Well luckily for America, This Doctor Strange meets an untimely demise at the hands of the demon and she jumps into the version of Earth that we have become familiar with in the MCU.
Once MCU Doctor Strange is up to speed, along with his Master Supreme (this DS didn’t make the cut because he was “blipped” by Thanos and was missing for 5 years), he decides to consult with Wanda Maximoff AKA Scarlett Witch to help, since it seems magic is at play (you know demons, runes and all). Well, it turns out that Wanda is the villain in this story and she was the one ordering demons to chase America for her purposes. And what’s her motive? If you saw Wandavision you know that she created a fantasy family to escape the reality that Vision was no longer alive and with her. In this fantasy family world, she spawned two kids (Billy and Tommy). Turns out that in other multiverses, there are Wandas that are actually living this family dream and she wants that for herself (lets ignore the fact that this means killing off one of these Wandas and taking their life as her own). This storyline is concluded when America gains control of her powers, “gives” Wanda what she wants, and jumps her to a Billy and Tommy variant whose mother was thoroughly used by Scarlet Witch to kill off their world’s illuminati (their version of the Avengers). Scarlet Witch, seeing the fear of god she instilled on these kids, she’s come to the realization that she cannot replace their mother even though it’s another Wanda variant. With this, she’s set to sacrificing herself (since she has no reason to keep on living) and destroys every version of the Darkhold (the book of black magic that she was using and the antithesis to the book of Vishanti) in all the multiverses.
In the film “Everything Everywhere All At Once” the audience follows the life of Evelyn Wang (played by Michelle Yeoh), a Chinese-American woman running a struggling laundromat with her “hapless” husband, Waymond, and is stressing out as she’s trying to get all her receipts in order for her audit with the IRS agent, Deidre Beaubeirdre, played by Jamie Lee Curtis. On the way there, Evelyn’s husband, Waymond takes on a different personality and tries to explain that he’s Waymond from the Alphaverse. Not only that, but his departed Alpha-Evelyn was the one who created the verse-jumping technology that allows you to access the memories, skills, etc., of your parallel universe counterpart. Alpha-Evelyn is also responsible for causing irreparable psyche damage to her daughter Alpha-Joy, causing her to transform into Jobu Tupaki, a dark sinister force that has the ability to rewrite any reality and who created an everything bagel blackhole with the ultimate goal to destroy the multiverse.
This film tackle philosophy, existentialism and family values with a voyeuristic acid trip feel, that resolves the storyline with love and acceptance. Basically all the Joys in the different verses could never satisfy their Evelyn-mom equivalent. This was especially true of Alpha-Joy whose mind was splintered by Alpha-Evelyn who kept forcing her to verse jump. Because of this, Jobu Tupaki was jumping into every different verse until she could find the one Evelyn that could truly understand her nihilistic point of view and was willing to end their existence by jumping into the Everything-bagel-blackhole (which was its true intention, not the destruction of the multiverse).
Jobu Tupaki came close to black pilling Evelyn, the long suffering laundromat owner, but then her version of Waymond somehow broke through her dark outlook on life with the message of hope and kindness. With this newfound perspective, she was able to defeat her foes by finding their happiness from the different verses and sharing it with them and then finally saves Jobu Tupaki from her suicidal fate and also reconcile her strained relationship with her own version of Joy.
It was interesting how the three multiverse related films were all dealing with different versions of human nature. The first two were dealing with selfish desires. One for the desire to be forgotten and unknown again. The other was about the desire of making one’s selfish desires come true. The third one was about familial concerns. True there were different selfish wants and needs sprinkled in, but it was for the outcome that would best serve others rather than the self. Joy/Jobu Tupaki wanted to end her existence because she felt she was not needed and her family would be better off without her. Her father (laundromat Waymond) wanted to divorce Evelyn because he felt that it was in the best interest for Evelyn since she “didn’t love him anymore” and would be better off in the long run. And Evelyn was just trying to get past the audit so she can keep everything afloat, please her never satisfied father, and continue keeping the family together. Also, the third film was more rooted in science fiction which I felt made for a more compelling story. Their concepts and premises were still rather ridiculous and off the wall (to trigger access to a skill from another self, you would have to do something nonsensical and out of character, like blow into someone’s nose for example). Whereas with magic, I feel you can always just create a new rule on the spot and always have a cop out to right the course of the story. At least that was my experience watching these films.