The ‘Doctor Strange’ Sequel Might Actually Benefit From Production Delays, Fans Say

This spring has been a trial for movie fans, particularly Marvel fans. With that studio it’s not just one movie that gets delayed — it’s an entire slate. The pandemic has forced the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase 4 well into 2022. There’s one bummer of a headline after another. 

However, some fans think the delay could work to the advantage of one specific upcoming Marvel movie: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. That movie had already had to sort out a director switch. Now there’s more time for the new team to start fresh.

Benedict Cumberbatch smiling looking away from the camera
Benedict Cumberbatch | Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic/Getty Images

What happened with the Doctor Strange director?

Doctor Strange was something of a surprise success for Marvel in 2016. The title character arguably had his greatest success in the ’70s with the van art crowd, but he was never truly mainstream, as some of his comic contemporaries. So a Doctor Strange movie was something of a roll of the dice for Marvel. 

As Marvel often does, they succeeded better than many people expected. Some thought the character was basically a mystical Tony Stark, but other people praised the film for its trippy visuals, which strongly resembled Inception. The movie made $232 million domestic and $335 million overseas, according to Deadline. That was enough to justify a sequel. 

Director Scott Derrickson had been praised for his imaginative direction, and he was all set to return to the director’s chair for a sequel. Unfortunately, creative differences got in the way, and Derrickson left the project. His replacement, however, delighted many fans: Sam Raimi, who had directed, among many other movies, the three Spider=Man films with Tobey Maguire. 

Why might the delay be good for the Doctor Strange sequel? 

On Reddit, fans got to talking about the upcoming Disney+ series She-Hulk, which has had relatively little information released so far. A fan posted a tweet that indicated a She-Hulk script was finished. That got fans talking about other future projects, including the Strange sequel. 

When Raimi was announced as the replacement in February, the studio was in a time crunch, having committed to a May start date. That seemed like an awfully short time for a new director, even an experienced one like Raimi, to get things up and running. Then the shutdown hit.

A fan on Reddit asked “I wonder if this quarantine will be helpful to writers, and therefore helpful on getting more quality original content and not rushjobs.” Another fan responded, “It’s at least going to help Raimi on Doctor Strange. It was going to be a time crunch if he had to get the script done by May.

Sam Raimi has had plenty of time to recharge already 

Another factor that may help is that, judging by his filmography, he was well-rested and ready to go when he was announced as the new director. He had not directed a theatrical feature since Oz: The Great and Powerful in 2013. In fact, he had made only that and the horror film Drag Me to Hell since he made Spider-Man 3. Many fans were unhappy with that movie, and Raimi said he was frustrated by studio interference. 

Still, Raimi had enormous fan goodwill based on the first two Maguire standalone movies all by themselves. Multiverse of Madness had been described as Marvel’s stab at a horror movie, and if that’s true, Raimi is an ideal choice, having filmed the Evil Dead series, not counting the remake. 

Even before Raimi came on board, Multiverse of Madness was supposed to connect to the Disney+ series WandaVision in some way. Whether that’s still true after the pandemic delays is anybody’s guess. Nothing has been officially announced about that series or any of the other Marvel series, including The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and Loki, which was also supposed to connect to Multiverse of Madness somehow. As it stands, Multiverse is scheduled for release in March 2022, so Marvel has quite a bit of time to sort through the delays.