Marvel Studios announced that the sequel to their 2016 film Doctor Strange (watch it HERE) would be titled Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness at the 2019 San Diego Comic-Con, and Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson was there to help make the announcement, since he was still on board to direct the new film at the time. Just six months later, Derrickson vacated the director’s chair over creative differences – and he was quickly replaced by the legendary Sam Raimi. Well, if you’re going to be replaced, at least it’s good to know you’re being replaced by one of the greats. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness went into production with Raimi at the helm and Benedict Cumberbatch reprising the role of Doctor Strange at the end of last year, and during a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter Cumberbatch discussed the director change.
Cumberbatch was in New Zealand working on the film The Power of the Dog when Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige called to tell him Derrickson would not be directing the Doctor Strange sequel. Cumberbatch said,
I was sad to hear about it, but that was not my decision. I completely respected the studio’s decision, and it was done very amicably. The grown-ups called and just talked me through it. And that was that.”
As for Raimi,
He was an assured pair of hands, who knew that world. He’s got certain Raimi traits. The smashed-zoom close-up. The mixture of just on the level of horror and just on the level of camp. There’s fun in there, but there should be some real thrills as well.”
Cumberbatch also mentioned that Raimi encouraged him to improvise:
With the first film, you’re always locked into a script, because it’s the origin story. But there was a lot more freedom this time around. I guess, because we were … not literally making it up as we go along, but sometimes it feels like that. Marvel has this amazing ability to come into production: ‘We really just have to start shooting now. It doesn’t matter that the third act is not quite where you want it to be.’ You really do things on a wing and a prayer sometimes.”
Talk of improvisation led the actor to reminiscing about the time he improvised an insult directed toward Iron Man (he calls him a douchebag) in Avengers: Infinity War:
I remember on the set when I called him a douchebag, there was this sort of ripple effect. ‘Oh my God. Did you just call Iron Man a douchebag?’ They kept it, good for them. And then, it got the same kind of response at the cinema. I was just … I got bored of being compared to Liberace or whatever other retorts the guy with the same camp goatee had opposite me, so I tried to knock him down. It’s great fun to play with that stuff. You find your feet. The more times you do it, the more familiar it becomes.”
Since the first Doctor Strange, Cumberbatch has played the character in Thor: Ragnarok, Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame, and the upcoming Spider-Man: No Way Home. He also voiced the character on the animated Disney+ series What If…? He is joined in the cast of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness by returning Doctor Strange cast members Benedict Wong as Wong, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Mordo, and Rachel McAdams as Christine Palmer, his Infinity War and Endgame co-star Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff / Scarlet Witch, and new addition Xochitl Gomez as America Chavez, a.k.a. Miss America. Raimi regular Bruce Campbell is expected to make an appearance as well.
While I’m a fan of Derrickson, Raimi is one of my all-time favorite filmmakers, so I am very hyped for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness . I can’t wait to check it out when it reaches theatres on March 25, 2022.