After a positively magical opening weekend, as well as a chorus of critical raves, it’s a wonder that anyone ever doubted the viability of a Doctor Strange feature film. But in a recent interview from the Toronto Sun, Marvel Studios head, Kevin Feige, admitted that the notion of seeing the Sorcerer Supreme on the big screen was just a “distant dream” for many years within the company. “As we started becoming our own studio,” Feige explained, “it was all about Iron Man and getting to the Avengers. For us, that was the pinnacle.”
Once they successfully reached that pinnacle in 2012, though, a multiverse of possibilities opened up for future films. That’s how such unlikely heroes as the Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man wound up headlining their own movies. And once they stormed multiplexes to great fanfare, the notion of a Doctor Strange tale didn’t seem so…well, strange. “He was number one among the characters we wanted to bring forth, because he’s so unique…and important on that original pantheon of Marvel characters,” Feige remarked.
The architect of the Marvel Cinematic Universe also revealed that the studio was so eager to get this particular project right, they put the movie on hold until they could get their preferred leading man, Benedict Cumberbatch. “There was a scheduling problem, [but] if you see in your mind’s eye the best version of a movie…it’s best not to let reality get in the way of achieving that.” And even though waiting for Cumberbatch’s schedule to free up accelerated the shooting schedule, Feige said that it also stretched out the pre-production process, allowing for the F/X wizards to design the reality-bending action sequences that audiences have been marveling at.
Cumberbatch’s entry into the MCU comes at a time when the studio’s first wave of heroes is on the precipice of their final adventures. As of now, the original core Avengers — including Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, and Scarlett Johansson — are on board to assemble for the supergroup’s next two outings, coming in 2018 and 2019, respectively. But Feige is already looking ahead to a day when different actors might be wearing Tony Stark’s armor or wielding Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir. “I think most of these characters that are iconic, like [James] Bond, like Batman, like Spider-Man, like Iron Man, someday will be portrayed by different actors.” Unless, of course, Doctor Strange uses his time-rewinding device, the Eye of Agamotto, to keep them eternally youthful.
Benedict Cumberbatch on how Doctor Strange’s magic is changing the Marvel landscape: