The recent release of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness has divided opinion, with some viewers complaining about the film’s use of blood and gore. However, others are delighted to see the superhero genre delve into this area.
Some people believe that it may have helped move superheroes into the horror genre, so what do you need to know about it and whether it marks a new direction for superheroes?
What Other Superheroes Could Turn to Horror?
The basic elements of superhero movies perhaps aren’t as far removed from the horror genre as they might first appear to be. Batman seems like the character best suited to this type of adaptation, as 2022’s The Batman and 2008’s The Dark Knight has taken this story and given it a darker twist to memorable effect.
Of course, horror movies need a terrifying villain and The Dark Knight achieved this well by including both the Joker and Two-Face. The former’s lack of apparent motives led to the famous phrase about some people simply wanting to see the world burn, and this ties in with a theme in many horror movies of the scariest character not having a motive and simply being evil for no reason.
This look by ExpressVPN at the main Batman villains and their disguises reveals that Mr Freeze, the Joker and Two-Face have all been scarred or modified by accidents. This opens up the possibility of making them more physically terrifying in future films, while the fact that Scarecrow is obsessed with the thought of inspiring fear makes him another possible villain in any horror-inspired Batman movie.
The Hellboy character has also inspired three movies to date that have straddled the superhero and horror genres, with the latest attempt being the unsuccessful 2019 reboot. In this Comicbook review, we can see horror potential in adversaries such as Baba Yaga, who is based on Russian mythology, and the hugely powerful Ogdru Jahad.
Details of the New Movie
The new Doctor Strange film is the 28th instalment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Stephen Strange. While Strange dies at the beginning of the movie, we’re then introduced to different versions of him as he travels through different realities and universes battling against demons.
Perhaps the key to the switch to a more horror-based focus is the fact that Sam Raimi directed it. His past credits include the Spider-Man trilogy, the Evil Dead series, Darkman, and Drag Me to Hell, so he seems like the perfect director to blend superheroes and horror in a single film.
Massacres and bloody scenes help to make this the closest we’ve seen to genuine horror in a mainstream superhero. It’s Elizabeth Olsen as the Scarlet Witch who provides some of the goriest and most unsettling moments as she goes on a rampage in her quest to control America Chavez’s powers.
The reaction to the new direction taken by the MCU was impressive, with the movie grossing over $900 million in sales in a little over a month to become the highest-grossing release of 2022 at the time of writing. Generally, the film has scored well, with CNET’s review noting that Raimi manages to create a hugely complicated film with a mixture of horror, action and adventure.
It seems likely that certain superhero characters continue the shift toward horror-style plots that we’ve seen in the latest Dr Strange movie. In some cases, this will be a fairly simple transition, while others will probably meet with resistance from fans who aren’t convinced by the transition.