For those who may have just glanced at entertainment news this week, you’ve probably noticed three big stories. A new name circling the directors chair of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, a looming WGA strike and a writer being hired for the same aforementioned film. Though one of those thing may not seem like the other, they’re very much of the same cloth. Yet these moves not only signal a big shape up for the superhero flick, but both Marvel’s output and some big tentpole features, moving forward.
All of this started last month, with Scott Derrickson leaving the upcoming Doctor Strange over creative differences. It was hard to parse the reason, with Derrickson stay on as executive producer. Some speculated it could have been needing to accommodate the story to fit other MCU characters in. Yet, Derrickson tweeted support for Disney+’s WandaVision, nipping that in the butt. Indications more strongly hinted the split could have been a tone issue.
On Wednesday there came the rumblings that Sam Raimi was in early talks to step into the director’s spot. Both Variety & then Deadline were claiming exclusives on the story. So things seemed like a mere negotiation formality. Raimi is an intruiging pick, given his past super hero and horror past. Specially when you consider he’s done a PG-13 horror film (Drag Me To Hell). As a director with a distinct visual style and a couple of the most highly regarded comic book movies (Spider-Man 1&2) under his belt, Marvel Studios could have been courting someone far worse. Should it fully pan out, it could lead to something extremely special.
The biggest wrinkle to all this came on Friday, usually a spot where news articles tend to get swept under the rug. The Hollywood Reporter broke the story Michael Waldron (Rick & Morty), who wrote the Loki series for Disney+, was hired for rewrites on Multiverse of Madness. Either indicating that Jade Bartlett’s script needed some retooling or doesn’t mesh with whatever the larger MCU plan is. Both are reasonable when you consider that Loki & WandaVision are expected, in some way, to play into the events of Strange’s second outing.
It may seem super strange that both writer and director would be snatched up, as replacements, in the same week. Less so when you look at the production start date (May) and a looming WGA strike. We’re things to potentially go that route, whichever the lastest version of the draft is to be turned in before the strike, will be the one they film. When this happened back in 07-08 it caused numerous shockwaves through big budgeted features. Given how machinelike the MCU needs to function, with its preset “phases”, a major misstep is something they can’t afford.
Of course, while all these hirings late in the game, there is reason to rejoice. Two tiny words: Ant Man. That production had a similar rocky road and everyone sees how that turned out. Peyton Reed replaced Edgar Wright. Adam McKay and Paul Rudd did a punch up on the script. It makes over $500 million at the box office. While all this news may sound crazy, it’s not too hard imagining everyone forgetting about it, once Benedict Cumberbatch pulls on the yellow gloves again. When more news crops up on this topic, we’ll be there. For now Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is slated to hit theaters on May 7, 2021.