Without getting into too much detail, so as to leave this article completely spoiler-free, I will say that Doctor Strange introduced time traveling to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Thanks to a relic Doctor Strange learns how to us, he’s able to manipulate time. And now that we know time traveling is possible in the MCU, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige addressed some concerns movie-goers may have in regards to turning back time in a recent interview with Peter Sciretta of SlashFilm.
Peter: Yeah. So how do we get around that? How is that like you can’t just undo any death or…?
Kevin: You’ll have to see. But certainly, that is something that we were aware of. And even if you look at it, you know, if Doctor Strange using those powers the way he has learned how to use them wants to go back in time to watch Washington cross the Delaware, he has to go like this for 200 years? I mean, it’s essentially real time, right? So it’s you don’t get a lot of, there’s not a lot of leeway there. If he wants to keep re-eating an apple, I guess he doesn’t have to buy apples again. I suppose he can eat an apple and get an apple. But that is something that we are acutely aware of. One of the reasons why we — and by the way, if he uses it for too long as we saw the first time he does it with the apple, space-time starts to fracture. So there are limitations that we introduce in this movie that we see later. In future films. Superman could just fly around the world, you know.
Although Doctor Strange is the 14th entry into the MCU, it’s clear that it’s a property Feige and company have cared about for quite some time. And as Feige said in his interview with Slashfilm, the introduction of Stephen Strange opens up a whole new world of story possibilities for the future of the movies.
Peter: I’m curious when you started this whole thing with Iron Man and you had the grand goal of getting to the Avengers, Doctor Strange was probably not even in your mind at that point, right?
Kevin: Well they’re sort of all always in our minds. But it’s a distant dream.
Peter: When did it actually become serious that you were like let’s start developing or let’s start tinkering with what could a Doctor Strange movie be? When did that actually start to happen?
Kevin: Well, we had been talking about it for a long time, and I would do interviews like this going back even before first Avengers when they go if you could do any character, what would you…? I would often say, Doctor Strange. Among a few other ones. Because he’s so cool. Because he’s so different. Because he is an entry point into a whole other, the way Thor was to a cosmic side and certainly Guardians. Strange is to a whole other segment of the comics which are very important and lead to all sorts of other storylines. So it was always there. It really wasn’t until though we sat down to start charting out Phase Three that we said, okay, we know he’s cool. We knew we want it to be trippy, but what does that actually mean and what could the story mean? You know, that was within the last four or five years.
Feige then went on to talk about how the pre-production of Marvel’s properties begins. Marvel begins piecing together artwork and collecting their ideas to form a lookbook that ultimately serves as some direction with what they want to include in the film. Additionally, it appears that Marvel Studios has some sort of “retreat” every 18 months or so for all of their creatives. Who wouldn’t love to be a fly on the wall during those?
Peter: I recently learned that like before a film becomes a film at Marvel you guys start putting together like this lookbook of like ideas and just…
Kevin: Yeah, I mean, sometimes yeah, sometimes that comes out of retreats that we have every few years. Every couple years. Often it’s collections of things from the comics of course. We also as you know have an amazing visual development department led by Ryan Meinerding and can wander in there and go, Ryan, what would you think about, you know, we’re thinking about Strange, we’re thinking about that. And so many of that Astral Push came out of a drawing that Ryan did. And even the apple moment actually. Of treating time as sort of slices of moments the way the apple is bit and unbit and turns to a rotten core came out of early drawings that Ryan did years and years ago. So all that can become part of the lookbook and inspire not just the look but even storylines and story elements too.
Peter: When do these retreats happen?
Kevin: Usually before each phase and occasionally in the middle of a phase. So once every 18 months or so.
While Marvel has directors pitch their ideas for the movies they’re wanting to direct, Feige says they don’t always get to look at the lookbook the studio has put together. According to Feige, sometimes they’ll show the aspiring filmmakers the lookbook and other times they’ll just listen to the aspiring director’s pitch.
Peter: When a filmmaker comes in, do they get a look at that before they do their pitch or is it like their pitch just…?
Kevin: Sometimes. I don’t think Scott did. Sometimes that is the case. So on Thor: Ragnarok for instance, we shared with filmmakers the ten different ideas that we had for the movie, and that was not a movie, but was just sort of blue-sky thoughts. And then they would go away and come back and try and turn that into a movie. And Taika [Waititi] did a sizzle reel, which we don’t always encourage and oftentimes can be really terrible. You know, clips from other films. But Taika did a version–
Peter: I’ve seen some amazing ones.
Kevin: Taika’s was amazing.
In an article we covered yesterday, we broke down some of director Scott Derrickson’s ideas that made it into the final cut. It’s been well-known that Derrickson would be looking toward Steve Ditko’s art for a major inspiration when it came to the film’s visual effects.
Peter: Some of the ideas that Scott came in with, in that initial pitch with the concept art, were some of the action sequences that made it into the final film, or the visuals at least.
Kevin: Sure. I mean, there was the notion of the all of which had spun off comics. I mean, he was inspired by the comics, turned it into a pitch. The two that I remember off the top of my head was the window doorways in the Sanctum leading to like a desert and an ocean and a forest. And the what became the Astral Battle scene in the O.R., Strange’s body’s on the table, which he adapted out of a little bit out of The Oath.