With Doctor Strange, director Scott Derrickson opens up a whole new side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe: the mystic realms. At the recent press day for Strange, Screen Rant spoke to Derrickson about the comics he drew inspiration from in designing the film’s trippy visuals, his ideas for a sequel, and how Joe Russo told him the plot of the upcoming Avengers movies outside a bathroom.
This film brought me to Steve Ditko and Jim Steranko, all these classic Doctor Strange creators, and it brought me right in there. This is exactly what I read. I noticed that when we were traveling through the multiverse—when he was doing his fantastical journey in the astral plane—was that the Cancerverse by chance?
Scott Derrickson: [laughs] I think that was a source of inspiration in there, yeah. We scoured everything in the comics, looking for bits and pieces of inspiration. And not out of slavish devotion, not out of fan service. It was just because it’s so good. It’s just so good.
I noticed in one of the scenes, he’s on the operating table and he comes in his astral form—straight out of ‘The Oath’. I was like “wow, that’s from ‘The Oath’.”
Scott Derrickson: That whole scene is straight out of ‘The Oath’. And by the way, that was the scene—I wrote that scene, as it is in the movie, to get the job to direct this.
Did you really?
Scott Derrickson: Of course, they had all read ‘The Oath’ as well, but I wrote it as a real visual sequence and added the fighting. Cause I think in ‘The Oath’, I think he just comes out of his body; I don’t think he actually—I don’t think he fights anything.
No, he just comes out of his body.
Scott Derrickson: Yeah, he astral projects while she’s operating on him. It helps with the surgery. And so I basically designed that sequence, and that was one of the sequences that got me the job, and it ended up being a centerpiece in the movie.
That’s amazing. On the set visit, you kind of spoke about a few plot points for setting up a sequel. Kind of like Mordo and some of the easter eggs you had in there. Are there any characters or comic storylines that you’d want to implement in the future Doctor Strange films?
Scott Derrickson: Mordo obviously. I mean, I get a rush every time I see that end tag scene. And I also really like the idea of Pangborn coming back. I think Benjamin Bratt’s an amazing actor, and watching that scene with him I just felt the desire to see him return. I actually really like the Hamir character. He never says anything, you know? He’s got a disability, but he’s a master of the mystic arts. I have a feeling that guy’s got some secrets up his sleeve that I’d like to learn more about. And he’s a minor character from the comics.
You built a corner of the MCU here, with the magic side of this. How do you feel about Doctor Strange being in other people’s’ hands? He’s gonna be in Infinity War, are you still kept in the loop with what’s gonna happen with Strange?
Scott Derrickson: Only insofar as I’m friends with everybody. Kevin will answer any question I ask. He doesn’t—he’s so busy he doesn’t go out of his way to explain those things to me, because I don’t need to know. But I’ve had some good talks with Joe Russo. In fact, I got the whole plot of both Infinity War movies standing outside the men’s room at Marvel. Cause Joe and I are friends—Joe helped me get this job—and I ran into him and we ended up standing there for like 30-40 minutes and he sort of broke down, “here’s what the two movies are.” And I think he was bouncing it off me. And I was like, “this is why this is great, this is so the way to do this.” And he told me what he was gonna so and I said, “no, this is why that’ll never work.” And that’s how it works over there. We all root for each other, we all help each other out. James Gunn gave me notes on the Doctor Strange script. It’s a team effort all the way.