Marvel is no doubt feeling pretty confident after their quirky Guardians of the Galaxy trailer received such a positive response from all corners of the Internet. If the studio can prove that they can make The Dirty Dozen meets Star Wars (featuring a murderous raccoon and his house plant bodyguard) successful, what’s next on the property chopping block?

Smart money has been on Doctor Strange for a while now, which has had a few rumors thrown its way recently (apparently, Johnny Depp was approached for the role at one point). We even have our own list of actors who could play the Sorcerer Supreme. But before we find out who’s playing the guy, we might be finding out who’s directing him.

According to THR, Marvel’s shortlist of directors includes Jonathan Levine (50/50, Warm Bodies), Mark Andrews (co-director of Brave), Nikolaj Arcel (director of the foreign film A Royal Affair and writer of the Swedish Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), and Dean Israelite (director of the upcoming Welcome to Yesterday and a few short films).

There’s no name on the list that immediately jumps out as being an inspired choice for the film (like, say, Whedon was for Avengers, Gunn was for Guardians, or Wright was for Ant-Man). Levine has had his share of successes, and Warm Bodies proved he could pull off humor, romance, and the macabre simultaneously, so he may well be the best fit. Arcel’s Royal Affair was a critically-acclaimed historical drama with style and costumes galore, so he may well be the most interesting choice. And Andrews was one part of a team that produced the animated Brave, easily one of Pixar’s oddest films, so he’s the wild card. Alas, we can only imagine how good Israelite is as a director. Then again, Neil Blomkamp was just a director of commercials before rocking sci-fi fans’ worlds with District 9.

The other news from THR is that Kung-Fu Panda writers Jon Aibel and Glenn Berger are involved with the film, possibly to write the screenplay. THR goes on to say that “Marvel is looking to hire both a writer and a filmmaker to work in tandem, or a filmmaker who can do both tasks,” so it’s unclear if Aibel and Berger are actually attached yet or not. Still, it’s good to hear that they want the director to be an integral part of the story process, rather than turning the whole thing into a paint-by-numbers affair.

For those not in the know, Doctor Strange is the story of an arrogant, greedy brain surgeon named Stephen Strange, who – after a terrible car accident – injures his hands and is no longer able to perform surgery. He desperately searches for a cure, which leads him to the Ancient One, the Earth’s Sorcerer Supreme (unbeknownst to Strange), who initially refuses to help. Then, after Strange saves the Ancient One’s life from an attack by the villainous Baron Mordo, the Ancient One sees the good in him and decides to teach him the mystic arts. Strange, of course, eventually becomes the Sorcerer Supreme himself.

As you can see, Doctor Strange and Iron Man share a number of similarities. First and foremost, they both have an affinity for goatee-based facial hair. Secondly, they both started out as arrogant, greedy, self-obsessed jerks. And finally, there’s the traumatic incident – for Strange, a car accident; for Stark, he was taken as a prisoner of war – that leads them down a path of good. With the involvement of the Kung-Fu Panda writers, can we expect Doctor Strange to take a similarly humorous approach as that of Iron Man?

THR notes that Marvel has had trouble getting Strange off the ground because of the magical elements of the film. After all, how do you bring a magical story into a mostly science fiction-based universe? Frankly, I haven’t ever really understood this concern (Jon Favreau said something similar about Thor when the idea of an Avengers film was first brought up).

It obviously isn’t something you need to worry about for the standalone film. And even if Stephen Strange made the transition from standalone to The Avengers 3  (or, ahem, the New Avengers), would it really be so different from Thor’s involvement? Sure, the movies made an offhanded remark or two to indicate that Thor was technically an alien, but visually and otherwise they treat him like the mythological deity he’s based on. And it’s not like audiences are willing to believe in alien horses and rainbow bridges but definitely not magic powers.

What say you, Screen Ranters? Are you excited to see a big screen adaptation of Doctor Strange? Which director – of those listed above – would you prefer to see directing the film? And if you could choose the actor, who would it be? (My personal preference is and always has been Liam Neeson.) Drop us a line in the comments.

Doctor Strange has no release date, but many assume it will be released during Marvel’s Phase Three, possibly in 2016.

Follow me on Twitter @benandrewmoore.

Source: THR