Marvel’s ‘Doctor Strange’ Director Shortlist Includes ‘Warm Bodies’ & ‘Brave’ Directors

Published 1 year ago by , Updated February 25th, 2014 at 11:38 pm,

Doctor Strange Director Shortlist Marvels Doctor Strange Director Shortlist Includes Warm Bodies & Brave Directors

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.

Doctor Strange Movie Directors Marvels Doctor Strange Director Shortlist Includes Warm Bodies & Brave Directors

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

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  1. Jonathan Levine is a nice up and coming director…he would prob be my pick out of these…not sure how he would do with it though. It would be like the new director they got for the new Jurassic Park film.

  2. I’m no real expert on directors, so I probably could not make a real informed recommendation (I only really know a dozen or so great ones). But I do know whoever plays Dr. Strange, I hope resembles the character facially we have grown to know from the comics for many years.

  3. Mark Andrews? Really? A guy who’s pretty much spent his entire career in storyboards and animation is on their shortlist for Doc Strange? I…must not be seeing what they see. Not that I don’t enjoy his work, but he hardly has the right experience for this kind of thing.

  4. Thor was released like 3 years ago, and I love that everyone is still using the “I can’t believe Marvel figured out how to make a rainbow bridge cool” argument to defend any weird things in upcoming films hahaha.

    • I wasn’t saying I can’t believe Marvel figured out how to make a rainbow bridge cool. I was saying producers don’t give audiences enough credit. (Or, alternatively, rainbow bridges are no more plausible than magic powers.)

      • No no sorry I meant in general not referring to this article haha. I agree with you though: at this point I’m pretty confident that Marvel has a good handle on how to introduce a lot of elements that would seem silly/unrealistic in a comic book – movie adapation.

  5. Alot of factors will go into making Dr Strange a solid film. A director ready, and interested enough, to create the world of Strange. An actor who can pull off serious and eccentric with a bit of quirky-ness for the subject matter, and who is willing to tackle a franchise. Dr Strange would be an awesome addition to the team-up films, but I feel like another character should be next in line for a solo introduction.

  6. Although, make a mystical team-based film a la Justice League Dark, with Dr Strange, Brother Voodoo, Iron Fist and maybe Ghost Rider…Call it Journey into Mystery, add a little Kid Loki for flavor…and you got yourself a movie baby!

  7. From my limited understanding of Dr. Strange’s world, I believe his primary purpose is to guard the dimensional doorway that keeps his nemesis locked out. It will be interesting to see how Marvel will make all of that mystic stuff work. Dr. Strange’s animated feature is among my collection. I would’ve preferred a Black Panther movie, but I’ll take Strange as a consultation film.

  8. I cant say any one here really stirs me as the director (Shane Black is he busy?) Maybe Levine?? I love the idea of Depp, particularly if we got the more serious, suave versions. Liam is sadly to old for the part now and that is a problem for Mr. Depp shortly considering how long it would be between movies. I liked the director work of Joesph Gordon Levit. Guy Richie?? What about the original director of Iron Man? hmmm. As an actor to play Dr. Strange, I still lean towards Fassbinder. He needs to be kinda ‘mean and lean. Christian Bale shedding the batman?? John Hamm would be the right age also.

  9. I like Neeson but he is old and not humorous enough for the role.
    But if you ask me. I rather see him as Strange than Johnny Depp!

    HUUUGE Marvel mistake will be if Depp gets the call.

    • I loved JD earlier movies, ninth gate, donnie brasco and such. After Pirates 2, I stopped having interest in his movies.

      • Same here.

  10. I would be surprised if it wasnt a young actor for Strange (IE:30). If you look at the franchise leads for Marvel films at this point (Downey Jr, Norton, Hemsworth, Evans, Pratt, and Rudd), it seems clear that they have recently made a decision to cast funny actors who can also be vulnerable.

    Would go against my perspective of deciding to go with someone like Richard Madden. My choice, if I had to go with someone belonging to the Marvel prototype, it would be Adam Scott.

  11. Man, I really wish they had locked down Fede Alvarez for this.

    • He could easily look the part; he has a great nose for profiles too.

      • haha I meant for him to direct the movie, not star in it.

  12. To quote Arthur C. Clarke the science fiction writer, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

    All Marvel has to do is make Doctor Strange’s powers based on a some unknown technology…. Perhaps from some other dimension. And the objects of power and techniques to use them are passed on to him by the Ancient One.

    Not dissimilar to what they did with Thor and Asgard tech. Remember when Odin exiled Thor in the first movie? Odin didn’t just take his hammer away…. He also yanked those round things off of his armor causing a lot of sparks. Could those round things have something to do with Thor’s near indestructibility? Like a force field generator? Maybe somehow adding to his strength too?

    • Right but he also used his mind to cast the armor off of thor. Also, the hammer, at this point in the films is coded to Thor. The hammer flies on its own too also changing direction mid air.

      Lots of explaining to do.

      I would rather they just make his powers a mix of magic and science both.

      • It didn’t feel like Odin was using mental powers to de-power Thor. I just thought it was angry dad mojo that caused Thor to stand there at take it while Odin stripped him of his fancy gizmos……. No wait he did put his hand out and Thor’s hammer jumped into it….. Like it was keyed to Odin and he had admin rights over Mjölnir. They got a wicked cool wifi network on Asgard. Mental GUI all the way right?

        • Actually Mjolnir and I think even Thor’s armor was blessed by Odin which is what gives Mjolnir it’s powers as well as the armor so when Thor disobeyed Odin he took away his blessings as Thor was unworthy.

  13. M.Night Shymalan to direct.
    Michael Cera as Doc Strange.

    • IMO Marvel hasn’t made a female lead role, 1 because it’s risky to center around a woman, show biz people are stereotypically choosing lead roles, 2 because the woman would have to sell(sexually) and you know it. Unless you get a bad looking Ms Marvel…I dunno how Marvel would sell it. They’d have to go the sex appeal route, then people would bash Marvel cuz it was too much sex appeal crap. Marvel would need to pull out a trick we have NEVER seen before to pull of a woman lead role, without sex appeal. It would need a groundbreaking story with a lesson for all people, much like Raimi’s Spider-man movies( Only reason i liked the 3rd one.)

      • Didnt mean to reply to you sir, mobile SR sucks….

        • Ha.ha. I know what you mean. No worries mate!

  14. Josh brolin for Docter strange and Joe Johnston to direct the movie Pleeeeease!!!!!

  15. I actually wanted Tom Hanks to play Doctor Strange as he’s a professional actor who has won numerous awards and he wants to play a super-hero and has stated in an interview that he’s surprised nobody has asked him yet and specified that he wants to play a hero.

    I think given he’s track record Tom would be good at reading out the kind of things you’d have Doctor Strange say and make it sound serious enough that it doesn’t come out hammy and also TOM HANKS WANTS TO BE IN A MARVEL MOVIE! Why isn’t everybody at Marvel frantically searching for a role for the guy!?

    • Holy Cow! Tom Hanks?! I actually love it! He’s gonna need to lose a lot of weight though. Now my list from 1st pick to last pick is…

      1. Viggo Mortenson
      2. Tom Hanks
      3. Jim Caviezel
      4. David Guintoli
      5. Johnny Depp

  16. Hmmmm none of these directors scream at me as yes oh yes but I must say I don’t understand how they could have an issue getting this off the ground.

    Strange has ben a property that has been mentioned since early phase 2. Idk I must say I think an older actor perhaps mid 30s or early 40s would fit strange as he’s always seemed more older than others as an established surgon and then a sorcerer.

    I will not see this if depp is involved. His career seems to be cursed and his last few films seem to crash and burn.

  17. So, a magical Tony Stark. I know I’m gonna get a lot of hate for saying this, but Marvel’s lack of interesting female leads is slowly becoming very obvious. Maybe basing your entire Movie universe on characters invented 50 years ago has same downsides after all…

    • Strange does a complete 180 from his pre-sorcerous persona, though, so very much unlike Stark. Once his training is complete with the Ancient One, he is nothing like his former self.

    • Actually from what I’ve heard Marvel’s planning a Captain Marvel film with the character Carol Danvers as opposed to Mar-Vell and then there’s the Black Widow film that Marvel Studio is considering.

  18. Jada Pinket Smith for Dr. Strange, Denzel Washington for Clea, Jonah Hill for Baron Mordo and James Cromwell as the ancient one.

  19. Judging by the GOTG trailer, I now feel like Marvel can do anything. Really.

    I’ll reserve final judgement until I see the movie, but they’ve proven that they know how to pick the right talent (directs, actors etc) to make their properties come to life on the big screen in a compelling way. Good for them, and I am excited to see where it all goes.

    • I don’t know that I’d go so far as to say COMPELLING…entertaining? Yes. The GOTG trailer was…entertaining. I have to see more before I decide whether or not the movie will actually be GOOD.

      As for Doctor Strange, I DO look forward to seeing a film for him…actually more than most Marvel characters, including (*puts on body armor/covers his head with his arms*) Black Panther. I ask (and fervently hope) that they tone down the Marvel cinematic humor SUBSTANTIALLY for a DocS film, as his character and his story do not lend themselves to such lightheartedness as, say, Iron Man.

  20. I do love Doctor Strange (watched the animated film recently), but I would still rather see a Captain Marvel movie in Phase 3.

    But yeah, I get that Doctor Strange fits to the Infinity storyline better.

    Who knows, we still might get both :)

  21. They can just use what was done in the animated Dr strange movie. In there they had a scene or two that explained magic away very well. Less abracadabra more quantum physics. All u need is a line or two really, at the end of the day it doesn’t matter, there just his “superpowers”.

    • I have a feeling that the animated Doctor Strange film will be a serious influence on this film. The animated film is a LOT like Kung Fu Panda.

  22. Rufus Sewell for Strange….he has that mysterious look in his eyes or eye

  23. Jonathan Levine is my #1 pic if only because I enjoyed Warm Bodies more than Brave. Either way, none of these names seem all that high profile which may actually be a good thing. I also don’t understand Marvel or anyone’s concern on how to make magic in this movie “believable” Thor already explained that magic is just unexplained science. Sorcerers and mystics have no use or want to explain what it is or how they do what they do anyways. I’m looking forward to this because it’s always good to see a new Marvel character hit the big screen.


  25. I also believe Liam Neeson or Viggo Mortensen would be great choices. The most important factor is that the casting directors at Marvel are the ones in charge of the contracting process otherwise they run the risk of making the same mistakes that Fox is doing with the risible version of the F4.

  26. I said this a while back as sort of a joke but since then it’s become an idea that I would love to see happen.
    Dr. Strange directed by James Wan.

    Marvel has shown a willingness for patience and taking chances with James Gunn, Edgar Wright and The Russo Brothers, directors that wouldn’t be normally associated with SuperHero films and I think Wan would be a worthy add to the list.

    • I don’t think its taking chances so much as it is finding an inexpensive guy that they can influence. James Wan would be awesome though, he’s starting to really find his style, The Conjuring was great! But bold style doesn’t go well with Marvel movies it seems.

  27. With all the money that these movies make why doesn’t Marvel ever want to spend on a big name director? I mean, ever! Even Whedon would have come cheap for his first go around with the Avengers and its not like studios are chomping at the bit to get a hold of Joe Johnston, Louis Letterier, Jon Favreau or Kenneth Branaugh.

  28. If Doc Strange isn’t going to be Depp, then Dr. House is the next best thing.