Doctor Strange, the fourteenth installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, opens in theaters next Friday, and with all of the positive reviews it has garnered from critics thus far, the hype for this film has continued to build. A big part of that can be attributed to the unique genre the film will explore, as characters and plot lines delve into the realm of magic and mysticism for the first time on screen in the MCU. It’s evident from the trailers and marketing campaigns that have been released thus far that this film won’t be like anything we’ve ever seen before on screen, both in the MCU or otherwise. In the last week before the film’s release, director Scott Derrickson recently sat down with IndieWire to discuss what makes the film unique, and why he was a great fit for the job.
“I’m as unlikely a Marvel director as James Gunn [‘Guardians of the Galaxy’] or the Russo Brothers [‘Avengers: Infinity War,’ ‘Captain America: Civil War,’ ‘Winter Soldier’], but, for me, it provided a more positive approach to horror with a little bit more flair,” Derrickson told IndieWire.
Derrickson’s resume prior to Doctor Strange consisted of mostly horror films, including 2012’s Sinister and 2014’s Deliver Us From Evil. So, it does seem odd for Marvel to select him to direct one of their films, especially given that Marvel’s tone has consistently been more lighthearted. However, Derrickson utilized his background knowledge for this film, taking the same approach to Doctor Strange as he did with his prior horror films.
“But if you take the horror out, the character drama should still be a good movie. And I took the same approach to this. There is a thematic tapestry underneath this movie about dramatic ideas that isn’t forced,” Derrickson said.
And as Derrickson has previously stated, Stephen Strange’s emotional journey in the film is what drew him to the project in the first place. Derrickson felt drawn to the story because of the pain that Strange endures, and the emotional crucible that this pain brings the character through.
“Trauma and pain and suffering can be the very thing that dislodges a person from themselves both in awful ways and larger ways that force one to reckon with one’s own life.
“In this case, Strange was very happy,” he continued. “He had everything he ever wanted: success, money, charm. But he didn’t have love and he didn’t have depth of meaning. He lost the American Dream and as a result goes on this spiritual journey to get his hands back. But what he gets instead is that his ego is too great in service to other people. That was wonderful to think about.”
Derrickson was able to see past the magical flair and fantastical mysticism that the film boasts to its true heart: the emotional journey of an identifiable, human character. However, magic is crucial to the mythos of Doctor Strange, and achieving the visual translation of this mystical realm from the comic book pages to the silver screen was no small feat, and required a lot of thought and planning. Ever since the first trailer was released, fans have likened the visual effects to that of Inception, and Derrickson opened up about the 2010 psychological thriller’s influence on Doctor Strange.
“I thought that ‘Inception’ was the tip of a visual effects iceberg,” the director said. “But that movie was six years ago, and I loved the idea of taking that further. I stood on the shoulders of Christopher Nolan for that set piece, just as he stood on the shoulders of ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’ for the snow mobile shoot out scene. That’s what we do as filmmakers: we build off each other.”
From his statements, it seems that Derrickson has nothing but respect for director and producer Christopher Nolan and his work. At the time of its release, Inception was a feat of visual effects and has left a lasting impression on audiences to this day. It will be exciting to see how Marvel builds on that strong foundation and takes it to the next level.
Doctor Strange opens in theaters next Friday, November 4, 2016.