Dimension-hopping hero America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez) arrives in the main Marvel Cinematic Universe pursued by an enormous supernatural monster, which Dr Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Wong (Benedict Wong) manage to defeat.
Strange learns that the creature chasing America was the servant of a greater force which sought America's powers for its own ends.
Seeking advice on this matter, Strange goes to consult Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen), only to very quickly discover that it is she who wants to steal America's powers, in a deranged attempt to be reunited with the children she conjured up for herself during the tragic events of WandaVision.
This sets in motion a cross-dimensional chase, as Strange and America try to find a way to defeat Wanda and she uses the power of evil magical tome known as the Darkhold to pursue her dreams.
Like the recent Spider-Man: No Way Home (which is referenced onscreen because of its thematic connections), Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness continues the franchise's evolution into pure comic book territory.
Ideas, concepts, and call-backs are thrown at the audience and they're simply expected now to understand - even if only on a surface level - what is going on.
And I loved it.
Just the other day, I was talking about modern "epics" that outstay their welcome, but even at two hours and six minutes I would have been quite happy for this Sam Raimi-directed behemoth to have kept on going.
Raimi brings his legendary penchant for pure horror and dark humour to this Michael Waldron-penned tale, with some startling imagery - both the grotesque and the beautiful - blended with a plethora of hardcore, comic book deep cuts, from the various magic books that play key roles in the story to locations like Wundagore Mountain.
And that's not even mentioning the surprising cameos.
You may recall my audible squee of geeky excitement when Spider-Man was introduced into the MCU during Captain America: Civil War, but that geekgasm has now been surpassed when Doctor Strange meets with the Illuminati in a key alternate universe.
In a scene packed with glorious cameos - only one of which had been spoiled for me - we got our first, official, on-screen MCU acknowledgment of a superhero team very close to my heart.
And, what made it so wonderful was that I had no idea it was coming, despite the character who appears here being a perfect piece of casting and making a surprisingly lengthy appearance (for a cameo).
Such is the joy of avoiding spoilers. So I won't say any more and will let those coming to this masterpiece for the first time share the same shock and excitement that I did.
You may have guessed, I absolutely adored this movie.
I was predisposed to look upon it favourably anyway for many reasons, but then the moments I alluded to above sealed the deal.
But there's so much more to this movie to love than just fan-service appearances in The Illuminati sequence: we get to revel in weird alternate dimensions, magic, monsters, and a very special zombie, to name but a few wonderful elements.
If this is the future of the MCU, we're in very safe hands as clearly Marvel supremo Kevin Feige is keen to take us on one hell of a wild rollercoaster ride.
And, of course, as a Marvel movie, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness doesn't end when the credits roll.
There's a mid-credit scene, seemingly setting in motion a new story arc for Doctor Strange and introducing another major comic book character, with a key role to play in the sorcerer's future, to the MCU.
And then, the final post-credit scene pays off an earlier very-Raimi gag that, itself, homages his best known horror outing (the Evil Dead, of course).
- Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is available to stream on Disney Plus from today.
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