America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez) is a teenager with the power to travel between dimensions, though she cannot control it. She came from the Utopian Parallel originally and fears her own uniqueness. She and an alternate Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) are pursued by a demon between universes as they search for the Book of Vishanti. That particular Strange is killed and Chavez creates a portal that transports her and his corpse to Earth 616. There, the local Doctor Strange saves Chavez from another demon with the help of the Sorcerer Supreme (Benedict Wong). The demons are after Chavez because of her power of dimensional travel.
Recognizing some witchcraft runes, Strange consults Wanda Maximoff, or the Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), a former Avenger who can create chaos magic with her telepathic and telekinetic powers. But then he realizes that she is responsible for the attacks. She seeks to unite with Billy and Tommy (Julian Hillard and Jett Klyne), her children from another dimension. When Strange refuses to surrender Chavez, she attacks Kamar-Taj, the sorcerers’ enclave in the Himalayas, and kills many sorcerers. While Chavez reluctantly transports herself to Earth-838, Maximoff takes control of the Wanda in that dimension. One of her versions sacrifices herself to break the dreamwalk and save her other self. Maximoff forces Wong to take her to Mount Wundagore, where the Darkhold’s power lies. Are you with me?
Strange and Chavez are apprehended by Earth 838’s sorcerer supreme, Karl Mondo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and are brought before the Illuminati—Mordo, Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), Blackagar Boltagon (Anson Mount), Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch), Reed Richards (John Krasinski), and Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart). They believe that, trying to defeat Thanos, Doctor Strange triggered a universe-destroying incursion. They executed their own Strange but think Earth-616’s Strange is as dangerous. But Maximoff kills all of them but Mordo. Strange subdues Mordo and flees with Chavez and they escape with the help of Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams), Strange’s ex-girlfriend. Still there?
The three of them enter the space between universes to find the Book of Vishanti, but Maximoff destroys it. She takes over Chavez’s mind to send them all to a destroyed universe. Strange defeats the Strange there and with Wong’s help saves Chavez from Maximoff. Chavez transports Maximoff to Earth-838 to find her children recoiling from her in fear. Realizing what she has done, she brings down Mount Wundagore, destroys the Darkhold, and apparently sacrifices herself. Chavez, Strange, and Palmer return to where they belong. Kamar-Taj is repaired and the surviving sorcerers, joined by Chavez, continue their training. Doctor Strange now has three eyes. In mid-credits, a sorceress (Charlize Theron) approaches him, warning that he must fix another incursion he created, and he follows her into the Dark Dimension.
The film was directed by Sam Raimi of Spiderman and The Evil Dead fame, written by Michael Waldron. The Wanda Maximoff here is the one from the Wandavision TV show. Raimi’s direction was praised by critics, as was Olsen’s performance and the striking visuals, which like all Doctor Strange movies can only be described as a real trip. The plot was sometimes hard to follow, but one learns not to think about it too much and just enjoy the passing madness. The mixture of Gothic horror and comic-book SF was intentional on Sam Raimi’s part. Just to be sure, Danny Elfman was chosen to do the music.
They kind of made up the second half of the movie as they went along. Doctor Strange’s goatee was real. This is the fifth MCU film in a row not released in China, this time because Chavez has two mothers. For the fight scene between two versions of Doctor Strange, Elfman used Bach’s Toccata and Fugue against Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. The statue in the lobby of the Illuminati HQ is Xena, the Warrior Princess. Professor Xavier’s clothes are made in Yorkshire, which pleased him because his mother worked there. When the Scarlet Witch is seen in a mirror, the music is from Raimi’s The Evil Dead. There are lots of references to that movie scattered throughout, and as usual with Raimi, Bruce Campbell has a small role.