With the exception of Thor, Marvel in-house productions have dealt with comic book characters rooted in the sci-fi, not fantasy, genre. However, now that the studio is reportedly moving ahead with a Dr. Strange movie, it is going to become near impossible to avoid introducing overt supernatural elements into the Marvel movie universe.
The magically-empowered Stephen Strange is not one of the more mainstream characters in the Marvel catalogue. Even so, it now appears that he could be one of the first non-Avengers characters to make the jump to the big screen.
Screenwriting duo Thomas Dean Donnelly and Joshua Oppenheimer (the upcoming Conan the Barbarian rebooot) were reportedly hired last year to draft a script for the Dr. Strange movie. The project will be live-action and not a computer-animated film by Pixar, as was previously rumored.
According to Twitch, Donnelly and Oppenheimer have turned in their Dr. Strange script and Marvel is forwarding their draft to an undisclosed shortlist of directors "to try and sign someone up to 'oversee continued development'" of the project.
Iron Man 3 and Thor 2 have already been scheduled for release in Summer 2013, so it seems unlikely that Dr. Strange will make the jump to the big screen before 2014 - perhaps, even around the same time that Edgar Wright's Ant-Man movie finally arrives.
Stan Lee and artist Steve Ditko co-created Dr. Strange back in 1963. The character began as a highly-respected and arrogant surgeon whose career came to an abrupt end after his hands were irreparably damaged in a car accident. He would eventually go on to become "Sorcerer Supreme" after saving the life of "The Ancient One" and subsequently being gifted with powerful magical abilities as a reward. In terms of appearance, Dr. Strange can be identified by his dark hair with graying temples, a thin mustache-goatee, and his trademark blue garbs, yellow gloves, and flowing red cloak. While self-appointed candidate Patrick Dempsey would actually be a decent fit for the character, someone like Liam Neeson admittedly bears a stronger physical resemblance.
A couple of the items glimpsed in Odin's Vault in Thor do pave the way for an eventual movie based on the Dr. Strange comic, which has historically boasted some of the more surreal and bizarre imagery in the Marvel universe (Ditko's illustrations have often been compared to the collective work of Salvador Dali). In the hands of a director with great visual prowess, a Dr. Strange movie could easily look unlike any other comic book adaptation out there.
While a Dr. Strange movie penned solely by Donnelly and Oppenheimer - whose resume includes Dylan Dog: Dead of Night, A Sound of Thunder, and Sahara - sounds less appetizing, it's possible that several other writers will eventually be brought onboard to rework and polish off their draft before the day is out (case in point: some half a dozen different writers worked on Iron Man).
We'll keep you posted on the status of the Dr. Strange movie as more information is released.