When Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness finally comes to theaters next March, almost five and a half years will have passed since the release of the first installment back in November 2016, which marks the longest gap ever between solo adventures for one of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s heroes, at least until Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 snatches the record in May 2023.
While the pandemic had a huge part to play in that, forcing the Sorcerer Supreme’s sequel to flee from its original May 2021 bow, there were some behind-the-scenes issues that delayed pre-production significantly. Depending on who you ask, Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson either dropped out or was fired over creative differences, with his regular writer C. Robert Cargill following him out the door.
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No disrespect to the aforementioned duo, but Multiverse of Madness may have gotten a serious upgrade after Sam Raimi agreed to step behind the camera, with the screenplay now credited to Jade Bartlett and Loki creator Michael Waldron. In a new interview, Benedict Cumberbatch addressed the ol’ switcheroo, and he was as respectful as you’d imagine.
“I was sad to hear about it, but that was not my decision. I completely respected the studio’s decision, and it was done very amicably. The grown-ups called and just talked me through it. And that was that. He was an assured pair of hands, who knew that world. He’s got certain Raimi traits. The smashed-zoom close-up. The mixture of just on the level of horror and just on the level of camp. There’s fun in there, but there should be some real thrills as well. With the first film, you’re always locked into a script, because it’s the origin story. But there was a lot more freedom this time around. I guess, because we were, not literally making it up as we go along, but sometimes it feels like that.”
The first installment boasted some neat visuals, but it often felt flat and workmanlike. That’s one thing you definitely won’t get from Raimi, who’s spent the last 40 years being lauded for his eye-popping camerawork and singular style, and his aesthetic perfectly suits the bonkers premise of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.