By now, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has woven together multiple interlocking stories, with gods, teenagers, soldiers and kings populating them in their wisecracking droves. The franchise has come a long way from Robert Downey Jr.’s first outing as Iron Man, and there have been a lot of developments in the Marvel world since – not just on Earth, but across the universe. It’s all building towards something, of course, the final showdown with the titan Thanos, but before that we have to be introduced to the heroes who’ll be charged with bringing him down.
Once we moved past Phase One of the MCU, the pressure to connect the films seemed to mount. Why wasn’t Hawkeye around when S.H.I.E.L.D fell? Where were the rest of the Avengers when Malekith was about to destroy the universe? Et cetera, et cetera. When Doctor Strange rolled around, naturally fans were interested to find out how Cumberbatch’s Stephen Strange would feature in with the heroes we already know – and what he would bring to the table. After-credits sequences don’t really cut it anymore, since it’s more satisfying to see worlds collide inside the main plot. Ant-Man bringing in Falcon was a welcome surprise for audiences, for example.
However, Scott Derrickson, director of Doctor Strange, wasn’t bothered by the pressure of conforming to Marvel’s established formula; he was too focused on making the film appealing to a general audience, since he’s known for his resume of horror. (Derrickson directed Hellraiser: Inferno, The Exorcism of Emily Rose and Sinister, and produced the latter’s sequel.)
Derrickson spoke to Comicbook.com about switching it up for his Marvel project:
“I think the only obligatory sense that I felt going into it with respect to the MCU was tonal, in that I’ve made very dark films in the past. Some really dark. It is my creative inclination and I knew that I was going to have to have a lighter touch on this movie than I had on films in the past, but I also was really ready for that. I’m a parent of middle school boys now. I wanted to make a movie … I wanted to finally make a movie they can see!”
And as with most of the other superheroes’ solo romps:
“There was no pressure; it’s a completely standalone movie.”
The use of the Time Stone (one of the Infinity Gems) in the plot apparently came about naturally, and certainly worked wonders for Doctor Strange’s relevance in the future films:
“The last scene with Wong was shot after principal photography. We decided to put that on as kind of the final scene; it was only then that we were looking for a way to tie it into the MCU.”
It seems the character will have plenty to do once the Infinity War starts up, though I doubt Thanos will “come to bargain” so easily.
Doctor Strange will be released on DVD and Blu-ray on February 28th.