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'Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness' footage teases 'darker tone' under Sam Raimi

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness portals into theaters everywhere Friday, May 6.

By Josh Weiss
(L-R): Xochitl Gomez as America Chavez, Benedict Wong as Wong, and Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Stephen Strange

When you hire Sam Raimi to direct a movie the filmmaker is going to find a surefire way to incorporate elements of horror into the project — no matter the genre. It's in his very DNA, going all the way back to Evil Dead, which first put him on the map all those years ago. Nothing, not even the often bubbly and light-hearted Marvel Cinematic Universe, can fully shave down Raimi's spine-tingling sensibilities.

The director's penchant for crafting worlds that are as terrifying as they are strange (premature pun intended) will be on full display early next month when Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness arrives on the big screen.

"It's got a sort of darker tone to it and with Sam Raimi at the helm... he's a master of that," Benedict Cumberbatch (who returns to play the Master of the Mystic Arts) states in a new featurette devoted to the highly-anticipated sequel. He also describes the reality-hopping comic book adventure as "unfathomably exciting ... it's the most fantastic new phase of Marvel."

"We wanted the fans to go, 'Oh, how cool!' That really was our goal," Raimi explains, hinting at a heaping helping of fan service. "We wanted to give the fans what they wanted, just not exactly what they expected."

Benedict Wong, who plays Wong (currently the Sorcerer Supreme), doesn't mince words: "We're in unknown territory. I think audiences are gonna be startled. These other realities invite a plethora of all these new characters."

Check out the featurette below:

First announced at San Diego Comic-Con 2019, Multiverse of Madness was originally touted as the MCU's first-ever horror project. Of course, this was before Scott Derrickson decided to part ways with the film over creative differences (he stayed on board as an executive producer, though). Several months before the director's high-profile exit, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige likened the movie's tone to cinematic touchstones from the 1980s like PoltergeistTemple of Doom, and Gremlins.

"These are the movies that invented the PG-13 rating, by the way — they were PG and they were like, ‘We need another [rating],’" he said. "But that’s fun, it’s fun to be scared in that way and not a horrific, torturous way, but in a way that is legitimately scary because Scott Derrickson’s quite good at that. But scary in the service of an exhilarating emotion."

Written by Michael Waldron (head writer on Loki), the Doctor Strange sequel co-stars Elizabeth Olsen (Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch), Xochitl Gomez (America Chavez), Rachel McAdams (Dr. Christine Palmer), and Michael Stuhlbarg (Dr. Nicodemus West).

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness portals into theaters everywhere Friday, May 6.

Beyond the Doctor Strange sequel, there's also a murderer's row of new horror films coming out later this year, including Stephen King's Firestarter (coming to theaters and Peacock on May 13), original Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson's new horror film The Black Phone (in theaters June 24), and Jordan Peele's new horror film NOPE (in theaters July 22).