Back in 2018, news broke that Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson was to stay aboard for Marvel Studios’ planned sequel to its 2016 blockbuster, with Benedict Cumberbatch also reprising his role as the Sorcerer Supreme.
Entitled Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, the project was touted as the MCU’s first horror movie, which seemed about right because Derrickson had originally come into the fold with a background in genre filmmaking. He’d already helmed the likes of Sinister and The Exorcism of Emily Rose, so he could likely balance the craft of unsettling audiences whilst maintaining a firm grasp on the Master of the Mystic Arts’ ongoing evolution.
Except it didn’t work out. Derrickson left the sequel in January, 2020 citing “creative differences” along with his writing partner C. Robert Cargill. A month later, Loki scribe Michael Waldron was brought in to write on the film, and he was also hand-picked to work on Kevin Feige’s upcoming Star Wars film around the same time. The sequence of events has given franchise fans the impression that Waldron has absolutely killed it behind the scenes very quickly, and this has been explored in a new interview with Vanity Fair where Waldron has opened up about how he tackled Doctor Strange 2 with Derrickson’s replacement, Sam Raimi.
“I got to spend my 2020 on Zooms with Sam Raimi. Not too bad,” recalled Waldron, who had to keep one hand “on the wheel of Loki” simultaneously while exploring the cultural landscape outside of Marvel Comics for inspiration when writing Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
“I gravitated toward [travel documentarian and chef] Anthony Bourdain,” he explained. “Strange is an elitist as a neurosurgeon and a sorcerer. Anthony Bourdain was a man of the people, but there was that intense intellect. You always felt like he could eviscerate anybody with his words at any time. But yet, Anthony Bourdain never really punched down. That was the first ingredient in the stew for Doctor Strange.”
Waldron posits that Strange and Bourdain, who died in 2018, may have also reached similar crossroads in their lives.
“Anthony Bourdain had been everywhere, seen everything,” he said. “What surprises you at this point? I think for all of the heroes in the MCU, in a post-Endgame world, how do you rally yourself to fight the stand-alone movie villains after you fought Thanos?”
The Rick & Morty writer also seemed to back Kevin Feige’s hopes that Doctor Strange 2 would end up with an Indiana Jones vibe. “[Strange is] Indiana Jones in a cloak to me. He’s a hero who can take a punch. That’s what made those Harrison Ford heroes so great. Those guys get their asses kicked. Look at Stephen Strange in the first movie. He’s really getting beat up but he’s very capable and everything.”
As you’re probably aware by now, Marvel tends to only reveal secrets about its upcoming films on its own terms, but Waldron was ready with some hype.
“I can tell you that it’s a ride…very Sam Raimi. The film is incredibly visually thrilling. John Mathieson, our D.P., who shot Gladiator and Logan—I think the look of it is going to be unlike anything you’ve seen in the MCU before.”
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is set to be released on March 25, 2022.