I saw Dr. Strange, The Multiverse of Madness on Mother’s Day weekend and now I am just sad.
This article contains spoilers to the new Disney and Marvel movie release, Dr. Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, and various previous MCU releases.
I am not a regular reader of comic books, but I love to see movies, and over the years I have been swept up by the beautiful compexity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (aka the MCU). Like many, when a new movie date is released by Marvel, I mark my calendar. My husband and I have so enjoyed the variety of worlds and characters, cross-overs and teams that we actually no longer watch the previews for any Marvel films. Maybe that was our mistake with The Multiverse of Madness.
The Dr Strange films are definitely set apart from other Marvel films with their step into the mystic world of magic, and as a major fan of fantasy books and film, I enjoy the metaphysical take on a superhero story. Where Iron Man and Guardians of the Galaxy are brash, and make us laugh out loud, Dr Strange bends our minds and guides us through a different type of experience, bending more on abstract thought. So, as MCU fans, we know to enter any Dr Strange film with the slightly wary anticipation of not truly knowing what to expect.
What I didn’t expect was to be given a deep dive into one woman’s mental and emotional pitfall of maternal loss. On Mother’s Day weekend, I watched a beloved, though morally grey, MCU character descend into an obsessive depression, driven to near madness from the loss of her sons, and eventually commit suicide. Yeah. I went to the movies expecting to see Dr Stephen Strange cast some spells, fight some monsters, and outsmart the villain. I did not realize the villain was going to be an archetype of grieving mothers, to whom Mother’s Day Weekend can be one of the most painful times of the year.
When the credits began to roll, there were no applause in the theatre. There was no outburst of excited chatter, as we have grown to expect during the opening weekend of any installment to the MCU. But I did audibly hear a young woman ask, “What was that? What were they trying to do?” And as we walked quietly out of the theatre, I passed several comments of, “…it’s Mother’s Day weekend,” spoken with tones of confusion and disappointment.
I am fortunate to be able to say that I have not suffered the loss of a child, but I can’t say the same for any number of women I may have invited to view this film with me. I have, however, been victim to the dark entanglement of Postpartum Mental Illness, and am lucky to be here today to write this. In fact, I work as an advocate for maternal mental health on a daily basis, and that has me wanting desperately to ask the question: Disney, what were you trying to do here?