Scott Derrickson Talks Transitioning From Horror To Superheroes, Bringing Magic To The MCU, And Crafting Villains


Marvel’s latest epic Doctor Strange arrives in some theaters tonight and opens nationwide on Friday. Excitement has been building surrounding this film because it not only introduces a new character, Stephen Strange, but also brings in a magical element which hasn’t been seen before in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Heroic Hollywood’s own Umberto Gonzalez spoke with Scott Derrickson about transitioning from horror to superheroes, defining magic in the MCU, and the villains of the Sorcerer Supreme’s origin story.

On the first topic, Derrickson said the skills he used on horror films was why he was hired in the first place. It was just a matter of making a lighter film, which was a nice change of pace for him.

“It was nice to work on something more positive. And not have my headspace in something so dark for so long. But it was also weirdly similar because of the fantastical nature of the movie. In my horror movies, I was always trying to deal with real characters and real character drama played by good actors … Laura Linney, Ethan Hawke, Eric Bana, and Tom Wilkinson, people who don’t do horror normally. And watching characters, real characters, encounter the fantastical. So in this case I got actors of this caliber who are dealing with the fantastical, so that’s the crossover. It felt oddly similar, just not as dark.”

Beyond tone, he also sought to change up the typical plot dynamics of usual superhero fare, including fellow MCU films.

“I feel like event movies… visual effects are always about blowing shit up and shooting and it’s always about destroying things because destruction creates screen stimulus but you can create screen stimulus in other ways. But you just have to create. You have to be inventive. And so that was a goal was for me to make a movie that in the end things aren’t destroyed. It’s about a different approach to screen stimulus and to giving people their moneys worth when they’re paying to see a big event movie.”

Derrickson said he wasn’t restricted making a MCU movie and freely used “psychedelic artwork and comics from the “Magic Mystery Tour”‘ as well as inspiration from “The Oath” graphic novel. Meanwhile, the villains of the film, from Mordo to Kaecilius to another character required rethinking.

As we now know, Benedict Cumberbatch not only played the title hero, but did motion capture for Dormammu, an eldritch being from the Dark Dimension and the master of antagonist Mads Mikkelsen’s Kaecilius. Derrickson said he took inspiration from the Sauron-Saruman relationship in The Lord of the Rings trilogy as well as video games to craft a compelling human antagonist as well as the otherworldly ultimate evil behind him as the Final Boss.

“That draws obviously somewhat from the comics, but he’s a guy who’s walking around with a fire head, a big fire head. And I liked the idea of him being an other-dimensional being and not having access to our world because he’s been blockaded. There’s a movie that I drew on, “Lord of The Rings,” in that I definitely was drawing on Sauron… because I wanted Dormammu to be ultimately the villain, but I liked the idea of the movie moving into a boss fight. Because I grew up on video games like most people my age, and the idea of going through this journey of weirdness and ending it with a boss fight. So I liked the idea of the Dormammu boss fight and him having kind of a human avatar. Having someone who’s channeling his power throughout the movie — and that’s why we picked Kaecilius, a very obscure, small character in the comics that we breathe that life into.”

The next superhero movie he’d like to direct?

Doctor Strange 2?

Dr. Stephen Strange’s (Benedict Cumberbatch) life changes after a car accident robs him of the use of his hands. When traditional medicine fails him, he looks for healing, and hope, in a mysterious enclave. He quickly learns that the enclave is at the front line of a battle against unseen dark forces bent on destroying reality. Before long, Strange is forced to choose between his life of fortune and status or leave it all behind to defend the world as the most powerful sorcerer in existence.

Doctor Strange is playing internationally and will be opening in the US on Nov. 4.

Source: The Wrap

Sam Flynn

Sam Flynn

Sam is a writer and journalist whose passion for pop culture burns with the fire of a thousand suns and at least three LED lamps.

  • Rob

    If they can get Reeves, it will be the best move that WB has made for their DC universe. I think he would be better than Affleck in this genre of filmmaking.

    I am assuming Reeves will demand a rewrite of the script though. He did when he stepped in when he replaced Rupert Wyatt on Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. He has enough star power now to command it here.

    • Carl

      Wait Reeves got a rewrite for Dawn? Maybe that’s why it wasn’t as good as I expected. The first movie was far better. It had a more compelling story with more compelling characters and never devolved into a silly action fest.

  • Origami Rose

    i hope he declines

    • SAMURAI36


  • Monty

    I’m imagining the fluid movement of the apes in the trees. Yes…. just yes.