Marvel Studios can now add an Oscar nomination to the list of accomplishments Doctor Strange earned for Disney. As one of the most successful origin stories – both financially and critically – for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Doctor Strange keeps earning accolades and it’s only a matter of time a sequel will be officially announced. We’re almost certain it already has an early Phase 4 date, and while visiting the set a year ago, many of the players involved spoke rather openly and hopefully for Doctor Strange 2.
We had the opportunity to address this with Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson earlier this week in a phone interview promoting the upcoming home video release (Doctor Strange releases on Digital HD on February 14, 2017 and Blu-ray on February 28, 2017). And just as we reconnect about Marvel’s next Sorcerer Supreme, the character is set to return in Avengers: Infinity War which began shooting this week in Atlanta. In our chat we discuss what Derrickson is hopeful for from the MCU and DCEU, how much he’s thinking about Doctor Strange 2, why Dormammu wants Earth so badly, Wong and Strange’s roles going forward, and more.
The first thing I asked the filmmaker however, was if he’d change anything about Doctor Strange if he could, now looking back on how things turned out. He quickly said “nothing,” explaining that because it did so well he feels it could break something if he did. Not worth the risk. And we can’t argue with that.
Something we talked with [Ant-Man director] Peyton Reed about a bunch of times with Ant-Man was that the character was being featured in Captain America: Civil War – which they were shooting as Ant-Man came out. He was jealous and protective of his character being used by others. For you, Doctor Strange could appear in Thor: Ragnarok but he’s definitely in the next Avengers. That’s like passing your own creation or your own toy to someone else in the sandbox. How does that feel seeing other people play with these characters?
Scott Derrickson: Well, I know the story of Infinity War just because I stopped near the men’s room at Marvel with Joe Russo one day and he just pitched me the story. It’s the only reason that I even know what the basic storyline is. And we were just having a chat. But I don’t know what his presence in that movie’s gonna be or in Thor: Ragnarok.
All I know is I feel thrilled that he’s going to be in those movies, for a couple of reasons. Number one: It means that people love the character. I think that Doctor Strange had to be made and we had to see how the movie was and Marvel had to look at the character and see how valuable the character was for them. I think they have a lot of love for the character and are happy to see him move on. But I trust them implicitly to take the character and make good use of him.
When I looked for questions on Twitter, you retweeted it – thank you for that by the way…
Scott Derrickson: [laughs] You’re welcome.
…across the board everyone wants to know, “Doctor Strange 2! Sequel! Sequel! Sequel!” And when we were on set with you, I think yourself, both Benedicts, even Charles Woods, actually, were name dropping a sequel as if it’s a sure thing. Like, “We want to do this in the sequel.” I know there’s no official announcements on this, but do you know in your head what you would love to see if there could be a Doctor Strange 2?
Scott Derrickson: Yeah, I have definite ideas about it, but that really is a collaborative process. I had definite ideas going into Doctor Strange, what I wanted it to do. Some of those very specifically ended up in the movie. I storyboarded the [hospital astral plane fight] before I ever got the job. You know, that was an idea and a concept and taken place with rituals, characters, and that outfit. So I guess as we discussed the story, we ended up getting rid of. So I have definite ideas, I think in the big picture of what would make the best possible Doctor Strange sequel. I hope it happens.
Yeah. I think we all do. Another one of the questions there was following up on that. Is there any chance, a character like Nightmare could appear in the future like that?
Scott Derrickson: I wouldn’t rule anybody out at this point.
Perfect answer. We speak to Kevin Feige pretty frequently at these events and he says he’s pretty much locked down on what Phase Four is going to be. We’re aren’t going to know what that is, of course, for a long time. But as a fan, yourself with this material, going back to the Steve Ditko art and stuff like that – are there any characters or teams or stories we’ve not seen in the MCU that you, as a fan, would like to see show up in the MCU?
Scott Derrickson: Are you talking about other than…
Beyond Doctor Strange. Anything. Any sort of character.
Scott Derrickson: I mean, there’s a lot of discussion about Moon Knight maybe coming into the MCU. I think that’s a good idea. I dunno…Actually, scratch that answer. Here’s my answer. My answer is this: I still have hope that Fantastic Four can be properly brought into the MCU because a lot of Doctor Strange – that’s the comment I read the most during that. I love those characters and I think that they still deserve another shot at finding a true home in the MCU. I still have hope for that. That’s my honest answer.
Me too. I’m with you there. I have some more questions from my colleagues and about the film. Will we learn more about who or what Agamotto is and his connection to the Infinity Stones?
Scott Derrickson: I can’t answer that. I can’t give you any answers about future storytelling.
Oh, sure. I understand. How about this? When we learn about Dormammu, Wong is sort of explaining, he and Mordo are explaining to Strange and he says, “Dormammu wants Earth most of all.” Why do you think Dormammu wants our world or our realm most of all?
Scott Derrickson: We’ve talked about how tacktillions of souls, this richness of dimensional material. He’s a conqueror, you know? And conquerors conquer. That’s what they do. Conquerors expand. They want more. Period. And anything out there that is not available to them, that’s what they want to get. And I think that the fact that this is a world that he had gone after in the past and Agamotto stopped him, makes him want it all the more. I think he’s been called the Cosmic Conqueror and any conqueror in human history has always been ultimately someone who exists purely for the expansion of their own ego, through amounting more. And that’s Dormammu. He’s the antithesis of everything Strange becomes, which is perfect.
With Mordo and The Ancient One out of the picture now, does that mean Doctor Strange is in charge of Kamar-Taj and training new disciples?
Scott Derrickson: Are you talking about from this point forward?
From the end point of the film, how that concludes.
Scott Derrickson: What I like at the end point, there is no Sorcerer Supreme. He’s not Sorcerer Supreme yet. I love that fact that last image is just him and Wong. They’ve fought together. They’re both masters of the mystic arts and Wong makes it clear to Strange, “You still have a lot to learn.” Because those are obviously the two top dogs there, but Wong knows a lot more than Strange does. I’m very satisfied with that scene, the final placement of the traditions within Kamar-Taj.
This next question is more just a theoretical thing but as a creator or a writer even, by introducing – and this applies to any franchise – by introducing plot devices like time travel, or now even parallel realities, does that present new challenges in trying to plan out or thinking about future stories, since you can undo any problem or even bring people back from the dead? Or do you look at that as an opportunity?
Scott Derrickson: I definitely think it’s an opportunity because you can always, even when he uses the Time Stone at the end, it’s very clear that using it is, using that Time Stone to reverse time the way that Strange did is playing Russian Roulette with the Universe. He can fracture space/time itself and it’s very dangerous. But how it’s used, how it’s not used, what its limitations are, those are all things that can be built up and explained. I do think there are always ways to create what seem like insurmountable powers, but then suddenly you find their limitations and that’s the nature of comic book storytelling – always has been.
Absolutely. My last questions are from my colleagues. In the post-credits scene, somebody asked me, “What’s with the gloves? Is that a new part of his costume?”
Scott Derrickson: Well, that’s what he always wore as Sorcerer Supreme in the comics and it was one of the other outfits. So they decided to put those on. I didn’t shoot that scene, Taika [Waititi] shot that scene. So when I saw those I was just as surprised as anyone. I actually really liked seeing them. I liked seeing them just because it was a nod to the Strange comic book.
They totally fit. In terms of chronology, in the Doctor Strange film, when does that take place or how long is sort of his training at Kamar-Taj, within the timeline?
Scott Derrickson: I have it all written out somewhere. I’d have to go back and look. I can’t answer that now, two months after the fact. But we had worked that timeline out pretty well, I think.
What are your thoughts on the DC franchise and how they’re growing it in sort of a different strategy, but similar to Marvel’s?
Scott Derrickson: You know, all I can say is, I didn’t read as many DC comics as Marvel comics growing up but I did read DC comics and – 100 percent honest answer, honest, truthful answer – the DC comic I read the most was Aquaman. I loved Aquaman. I read that comic pretty regularly as a kid. And they’ve got James Wan – who I think is one of the very best commercial directors in the world, right now – behind that. I’m so excited about that movie. And I have a lot of hope for Wonder Woman. I really like her introduction in Batman V Superman and they’ve got a great character on their hands. My hope is that character will catch fire and have a strong presence. I root for those movies, ya know? I root for all movies, but I especially root for good comic book movies. It’s the best, most interesting genre going right now.
Where can fans see you next? What are you working on outside of Marvel next?
Scott Derrickson: I haven’t committed to anything. I have individual projects that I’m working on. I’m reading TV pilots and considering some of those. That’s about it. I’m mostly been resting. I didn’t even start reading anything that had been submitted to me until the last two weeks. I unplugged for a couple months, spent time with my kids and spend all of my days reading – reading books, taking a break.
Thank you Scott. I really appreciate your time.
Doctor Strange releases on Digital HD on February 14, 2017 and Blu-ray on February 28, 2017.