Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness has become 2022’s highest-grossing movie at the box office so far, surpassing Matt Reeves’ The Batman. The Sam Raimi-helmed sequel saw the return of original film stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Wong, and Rachel McAdams. They were joined by Elizabeth Olsen and Marvel Cinematic Universe newcomer Xochitl Gomez as America Chavez. Reeves’ fresh take on the Caped Crusader saw Robert Pattinson star as the iconic hero.
Coming after the multiverse-opening Spider-Man: No Way Home, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness follows the MCU’s resident Master of the Mystic Arts as he is drawn into an adventure across different universes. Taking the young hero America Chavez under his protection, Strange (Cumberbatch) is forced to face fallen friends, twisted versions of himself, and new-yet-familiar versions of some of Marvel’s most beloved characters. And not long after surpassing Raimi’s three Spider-Man movies at the box office, Doctor Strange is set to break the records set by another superhero from a different universe. As reported by Variety, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness has spent its third week at the top of the domestic and international box office charts, earning $342 million in North America and $461 million in international markets. In total, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness has now surpassed over $800 million in its complete box-office gross since its release on May 6th, making it the highest-grossing film of 2022 so far. Multiverse of Madness surpassed the previous holder of the top spot, The Batman, by an estimated $35 million in its overall box-office gross, though it has still yet to surpass Reeves and Pattinson’s film domestically, as The Batman sits ahead of the Raimi-helmed sequel at an estimated $369 million.
The sequel’s performance is promising to Marvel Studios, whose releases made up 30% of 2021’s box-office takings as theaters gradually reopened following closures throughout the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. As Phase Four of the MCU made its theatrical debut following numerous delays and uncertainty, Marvel Studios’ dominated the domestic box-office of 2021, with Eternals, Black Widow, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, and Spider-Man: No Way Home placing themselves in the sixth, fourth, second, and first places respectively. No Way Home would also firmly place itself as the total highest-grossing film of 2021, becoming the first film to earn over one billion dollars at the box office since theaters reopened. While Reeves and Pattinson’s future with The Batman is already guaranteed following the announcement of a sequel, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is a promising sign of Marvel Studios’ 2022 financial success, as audiences become more confident in returning to the theaters. The sequel also saw a major step in the MCU’s storytelling, as it further tied the studio’s television releases to its cinematic releases in importance with its continuation of the narrative of WandaVision, so the sequel’s success could inspire confidence in further integration. With Thor: Love and Thunder and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever currently scheduled to hit theatres in 2022, Marvel Studios is seemingly set for further box-office success throughout the year.
Gotham Doesn’t Respect its Supervillains, & One Weird Detail
It’s tough being a supervillain in Gotham: not only is there Batman and his entire cohort to contend with, but the city has also become so rife with super-crime that Gotham simply does not respect its villains anymore. With Gotham City being infamous for crime of all levels, it’s a small wonder that the population has grown so jaded toward its rogues’ gallery. Wayne Family Adventures by Starbite and CRC Payne shows how far this lack of respect goes, with Gotham turning its murderous criminal population into fast-food mascots.
The audacity of using super-villains to hawk fast food is jaw-dropping considering just how protective such villains are of their personal brands. The Joker, in particular, is notoriously protective of his image: in Batman: The Animated Series, Season 1, Episode 42, “Joker’s Wild,” businessman Cameron Kaiser opens a Joker-themed casino as part of an insurance scam, knowing the Clown Prince of Crime wouldn’t tolerate someone else making money off of his likeness and would destroy the business in retaliation. Likewise, in The Batman Adventures: Mad Love by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm, the Joker nearly kills Harley Quinn after she dares to attempt one of his plans that he’d discarded for not being funny enough. Whether civilian or fellow villain, the Joker simply will not allow anyone else to share his limelight.
It’s not just the Joker who is serious about protecting his image – DC villains across the board take their names very seriously. For example, in The Flash #206 by Geoff Johns, Alberto Dose, Howard Porter, and John Livesay, Captain Cold takes personal offense when Mr. Element, a murderer targeting police officers, steals his temperature-based modus operandi. Cold’s response is swift and brutal: after a brief lecture about the Rogue’s code of ethics (and indeed, the fact that they even have a code marks the Rogues as some of DC’s smartest villains), he kills the unfortunate villain right before the Flash’s eyes. With all of this in mind, the presence of a Bat-Burger restaurant with supervillain-theming should be a ludicrous proposition. Such an establishment would seem primed to attract the ire of at least one villain looking to destroy it, either because it celebrates Batman or because it profits off of their image. The fact that Wayne Family Adventures’ Gotham seems to have stopped caring about such an event is the ultimate sign of disrespect: that far from super, their villains have passed into the mundane banality of burgers.