Production on Marvel's Doctor Strange has officially begun, with filming underway in Nepal and other locales for a 2016 release. Fans of the character are excited, as star Benedict Cumberbatch has stepped into the role of the MCU's Sorcerer Supreme, while other fan-favorite actors, like Chiwetel Ejiofor, Tilda Swinton, Rachel McAdams, and Mads Mikkelsen have all stepped in to round out the cast.
While anticipation for the Scott Derrickson-directed version is high, there was another vision of the film that was supposedly offered to Marvel at one point -- with Neil Gaiman and Guillermo del Toro behind it. While it was believed that version of the film failed to come to fruition because del Toro's schedule was simply too busy, there may have been other reasons having more to do with Marvel's plans for the character.
In a Twitter post, Gaiman stated Marvel simply wasn't interested in the duo's take on the movie. "I still wish Marvel had been interested in a [Guillermo del Toro] & me Dr Strange movie, because I wanted to write Clea so badly after 1602." Gaiman had previously mentioned being in early talks, expressing his interest in working on the character to Marvel, but the death of the project was attributed to del Toro being too busy to fit the film into his directing schedule. Now it seems perhaps Marvel was looking to go in a different direction, creatively.
Marvel 1602 was published between November 2003 and June 2004, so we can use that as a timeframe for when Gaiman and del Toro might have collaborated on the film idea. The rights to Doctor Strange were picked up by Paramount in April 2005 as part of the original plan to develop the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and were held by Miramax at the time that 1602 was being written. While Doctor Strange was left in limbo for several years after that, at the time that Gaiman was keen to work on it, Marvel was likely pursuing its own vision for the character, while trying to sort out the early days of its shared universe.
Of course, it's possible that the degree to which the idea was developed has been exaggerated over time. While both Gaiman and del Toro have acknowledged discussions about the project, del Toro told Collider in 2012 there had been practically no discussion between him and Gaiman about legitimately trying to do the film.
"When Neil Gaiman was visiting Hellboy II, he literally said, "Wouldn’t it be cool to do Dr Strange together?" and I said, "Yeah that would be cool." (laughs) That was the extent of the discussion, and then four or five weeks later it was like "Neil Gaiman and Guillermo Developing Dr. Strange for Marvel," and Marvel had never heard of that development and neither have I."
Still, it's hard to imagine a better writer-director combination for Doctor Strange, as both could have really brought some of the weirder and more supernatural elements of the character to the forefront. It's one of those projects that seems poised for "what might have been" speculation, thinking about casting at the time and how the Gaiman/del Toro version would have differed from the film we'll be getting next year.
Doctor Strange is part of Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and is slated for release on November 4, 2016. Scott Derrickson is directing from a screenplay by Jon Spaihts.
Source: Bleeding Cool