I know that on the heels of “Spider-Man: No Way Home” and the upcoming release of “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” all of the talk is focused on how [x] movie brought back [y] character from the [z] cinematic universe. But I’m here to tell you that only one film has done the multiverse right: “Everything Everywhere All at Once.”
For some background, “EEAAO” — being abbreviated for the sake of space — is a film about a Chinese immigrant family that lives a mundane life of running a laundromat and has a loveless marriage on the verge of breaking between Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh) and Waymond (Ke Huy Quan). The IRS is somehow not even their biggest concern, as their daughter Joy is slowly drifting apart from them. During one fateful meeting with their auditor, played by Jamie Lee Curtis, Evelyn is dragged into a fight spanning the multiverse.
Mind you, this is not a review of the film, rather an attempt to do justice for the film’s usage of the multiverse concept. The multiverse isn’t used as an excuse to bring back old characters in “EEAAO,” which is a welcomed change of pace (not that this film has any previous entries to take from). But for as cool of a concept as the multiverse is — who wouldn’t want to see alternate timelines? — the multiverse has been reduced down to a gimmick to get easy cheers from audiences. It’s reached a point similar to the “science” in comic book movies. Again, I’m not expecting any verbiage spewed out by characters in the MCU to be approved by the world’s smartest scientists, but slapping “quantum” at the end of every sentence doesn’t excuse the laziness, and I don’t care that the movies tried to be self-aware of this. It’s similar to how Tony Stark made the quantum-sized leap from metal suits to nanotechnology. Forgive me if I’m forgetting the lore of the films, but I don’t know what possibly happened in between “Spider-Man: Homecoming” and “Infinity War” that would suggest that nanotech was available to him, but I digress.
Back to the multiverse, rather than using the multiverse to stop past events, or recruit/fight past versions of themselves to save the world, “EEAAO” uses it to unlock more potential for Evelyn like power-ups in a video game. And if nothing else, the bodies of Evelyn are used as a vessel to channel other versions of Evelyn that are helpful in certain situations whether it be trained in martial arts or has hot dog hands. These abilities take over Evelyn in her battles and make for some hilarious, albeit unexpected moments. “EEAAO” is an absurd movie that truly throws spaghetti at the wall and sees what sticks; it’s almost sensory overload but it is somehow the right kind of chaos.
Look, Marvel can and will continue to use the multiverse for the foreseeable future and that’s fine. That well will inevitably run dry when all of the X-Men characters have been brought back and every Batman actor has graced the silver screen for one last curtain call. Watch “EEAAO” when it makes its wide release on April 8 for a multiverse adventure that is so unique that you can’t help but take it all in. It’s the multiverse done right, and I don’t care what Doctor Strange has to say about it.