Did Fede Alvarez Turn Down Marvel's Doctor Strange?

Fede Alvarez set photo

For many of Marvel Studios' chosen directors, their first superhero is also their first big budget blockbuster movie. Anthony and Joe Russo went from directing episodes of TV shows to becoming two of the most influential architects of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, thanks to their success with Captain America: The Winter Soldier and its follow-up Captain America: Civil War. After all, when it comes to Marvel movies the main draw is the superheroes, not the involvement of directors who are already big names in the industry.

With that in mind, it's perhaps unsurprising that director Fede Alvarez was approached by the studio after his initial success with horror remake Evil Dead. Screen Rant discovered this intriguing fact during a visit to the set of Alvarez's new thriller, Don't Breathe, in August last year. At one point during the lengthy interview, Alvarez was asked whether he'd ever be interested in stepping out of the horror genre and taking on a big franchise movie - and he revealed that one such opportunity had already crossed his path.

Right now in Hollywood there’s lots of shared universes being developed. So you’ve got Marvel. You’ve got Warner Brothers doing DC. And you’ve got Star Wars. Would you ever be interested in joining a franchise like that?

FA: No. Look. A lot of those movies are cool and audiences are going and watching them. It’s just as a director it’s harder to have your vision in those, if you go and do a Marvel movie… At some point we were in conversations and... they already figured it out. They’ve figured out the style. They’ve figured out the way they shoot them. They’ve figured out the colors, the humor. What would I do? I enjoy a lot more freedom than that. I don’t know. Eventually I might. And it depends on probably the characters in the stories. But just something about my job as a director that I really enjoy is creating my own thing. It’s trying to do my own style when I shoot it and set the tone myself... Evil Dead was a challenge in that aspect.

Doctor Strange Comic-Con trailer and poster

UPDATE: Looking back through the archives, it seems that Alvarez's "conversations" with Marvel were most likely about Doctor Strange, since the director was rumored to be in talks for that movie back in 2013, along with his screenwriting partner Rodo Sayagues. Moreover, the studio ended up going with another director best known for horror movies, Scott Derrickson, who was hired along with his Sinister screenwriting partner, C. Robert Cargill.

This isn't the first time that discussion about the creative limitations placed on Marvel directors has come up - it was an active conversation in the wake of Patty Jenkins and Edgar Wright leaving their respective Marvel movies (Thor: The Dark World and Ant-Man) due to "creative differences" with the studio. Despite being hugely successful and generally well-received, Marvel movies have come under fire for being too uniform in their tone and style, and not allowing directors to take full control.

We've heard mixed takes on this from Marvel directors, with some insisting that the studio offers them all the creative freedom they could possibly need. Even if Marvel does keep careful control of its brand, however, this isn't necessarily a bad thing; superhero movies represent a very different segment of the film industry than low-budget horror movies, and Alvarez happens to feel more comfortable in the latter. It's worth noting that he doesn't bash Marvel's approach - just says that it's not for him. Still, it would have been interesting to see what he might have brought to the table - and perhaps he'll change his mind in the future.

Don’t Breathe is set for release on August 26, 2016.

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