Danny Elfman breaks down the ‘Doctor Strange 2’ musical fight

Dr Strange and the Multiverse of Madness
Screengrab via YouTube

Warning: The following article contains spoilers for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

Love it or hate it, no one who has gone to see Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness can deny that the various multiversal set-pieces are some of the most inventive to ever appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Recently, Strange composer Danny Elfman broke down the basics of one of the most visually and aurally incredible scenes.

Warning: Spoilers follow below.

The Doctor Strange sequel is full of dynamic fight sequences — some of which are downright disturbing — but one hands-down stunner of a fight happens when the Master of the Mystic Arts has a stand-off with one of his multiversal variants and things take a musical turn. Grabbing sheet music from the grand piano of the alternate Strange, the hero begins a series of magical assaults using notes literally lifted off the page. His doppelganger opponent fights back in a similar manner, and the two make somewhat beautiful music with each other while duking it out for possession of The Darkhold.

Composer Danny Elfman recently spoke to Collider regarding the scene and was pretty straightforward in confessing that he initially didn’t understand director Sam Raimi’s concept at all. But with a bit of correspondence, and a last-minute assist from Marvel President Kevin Feige, they managed to bring the scene off. According to Elfman:

“It was a lot of experimenting. When Sam described it to me, honestly, I couldn’t even imagine what the hell he was talking about. He came back to me, during their second round of shooting for this scene and I said, ‘Okay, I think I understand,’ and I started just experimenting with all these different ideas because we weren’t sure how to approach it. First, I had different famous classical music pieces flying up and back. In the 11th hour, it was Kevin Feige, the president [of Marvel Studios], who said, ‘Let’s just really unify it to Beethoven versus Bach.’ Doctor Strange has got Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony versus Doctor Strange shooting back Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor. I redid it in the 11th hour, just weeks before the movie opened, in this crazy last-minute session. It really just was so much fun. It came together perfectly. There were two or three different incarnations of that, trying to figure out what it would actually end up being, in the end. That was quite a crazy last-minute process.”

-Danny Elfman

It was well worth the effort. Despite the difficulty and extreme crunch time the scene ended up as on of the film’s most memorable moments.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is currently showing in theaters.