As the momentum toward the release of Doctor Strange in November continues, Scott Derrickson is giving more interviews on the film and how it came to be. The Los Angeles Daily News had an interview with him released online recently.
The interview mostly dealt with early creative decisions, including how Marvel settled on him as a director and Benedict Cumberbatch as the lead in the film. For Derrickson, it was important that Marvel took some risks with Doctor Strange, instead of just a paint-by-numbers approach to a superhero, plus a little magic.
I told them it should take a bold left turn, like the ’60s comics
It’s pretty psychedelic. If your love for the early Stan Lee-Steve Ditko comics was that visual, psychedelic ambition, I think you’ll be pretty satisfied. The primary resource for the visual design of the whole movie came from those comics.”
As the MCU has evolved it has become increasingly important for directors to craft a movie with a unique vibe, look, or plot. A simple archetypal retelling of a hero’s journey has become played out. Derrickson got the job from Kevin Feige in part because he wanted to do something that was as left field in its approach as Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s Strange was when he first hit the pages of Strange Tales. One also wonders if his reference to the comics as “the primary source for the visual design” is a subtle defense of the criticism that trailers look too much like Inception.
For those who have watched this filmmaking process closely, Derrickson offers some interesting comments on the selection of Cumberbatch.
He is perfect casting. Myself and Kevin Feige and the other producers involved came to a consensus very quickly that Benedict was the right guy for the role. There’s just an overlap between his work and the comics that you can see and feel. You feel that he can play the intelligence, the arrogance, the unlikability and yet intrigue of Stephen Strange, and that the massive arc that the character goes through in those early comics is something that he would be able to portray.
It is interesting to hear this as a decision that came “very quickly.” Derrickson got the gig in June of 2014. Many fans had been clamoring for Cumberbatch, but Marvel was pursuing Joaquin Phoenix for the entire summer of that year, and into October. Finally, in December Cumberbatch signed on. That hardly seems like a quick, definitive “consensus,” but it’s easy to see why Derrickson would downplay and condense the narrative to show his confidence in the final selection. It’s also possible that Phoenix wasn’t his first choice, but one that the studio was already working on before he started on the film.
Derrickson also addressed the most controversial story surrounding the film: the selection of Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One. His comments continue to push the positive side of the decision (creating an opportunity for an actress) while acknowledging the negative (taking an opportunity from an Asian/Asian-American actor/actress).
Diversity in movies is absolutely the responsibility of producers and directors. In this movie, we have about as diverse a cast as I think you can get, and that was a very conscious decision. Tilda was a way of adding diversity in terms of not just an ethereal, enigmatic, otherworldly actress playing an ethereal, enigmatic, otherworldly character, but we’re bringing a middle-aged woman who’s not 28 years old in leather pants into the Marvel Universe in a major role.
“I was very happy with that, but I was also very conscious that in doing that I was erasing a significant potential Asian role.
Derrickson went on to discuss how the Ancient One decision also touches on his decisions with Wong, another character in danger of an offensive stereotype.
Do you think Derrickson and Cumberbatch were the best choices for Doctor Strange? Do you still wonder what a Joaquin Phoenix Strange would have been like? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Doctor Strange opens in theaters on November 4th. The movie stars Cumberbatch, Swinton, Chiwetel Ejofor, Benedict Wong, and Mads Mikkelson.
Source: Los Angeles Daily News