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Will Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) chop off his own arm and replace it with a chainsaw in Multiverse of Madness? Probably not, but that didn't stop director Sam Raimi from going back to the Evil Dead fountain that's quenched his creative thirst for over 40 years.
"We want it to be a Sam Raimi movie," the MCU's chief architect, Kevin Feige, explained to Empire Magazine for the publication's May 2022 issue (now on sale). "We would give notes like, 'This action is cool — you're competing with Avengers and Spider-Man, no problem — but don't forget the Sam Raimi parts.' You will see just how Sam Raimi it is, in ways that will make fans of Evil Dead II very happy."
Feige was most likely referring to the alternate versions of Strange we'll meet throughout the film (though we're also holding out hope for a Bruce Campbell cameo). That's been confirmed for months, ever since the first teaser trailer — attached to the end of Spider-Man: No Way Home — promised that things were about to get "out of hand."
According to the Empire article itself, the sequel features at least three different iterations of the Master of the Mystics Arts: "a corrupted, corroded version called Sinister Strange; a seemingly heroic variant based on the character's run in the comic book super-group, The Defenders; and a zombified Strange, which is perhaps the most obvious link between Raimi's present and his gore-soaked past."
While Raimi hasn't occupied the director's chair in almost a decade, Multiverse of Madness represents a major homecoming (pun intended) for the big screen storyteller, who cemented his Marvel legacy in the 2000s with Tobey Maguire's Spider-Man trilogy. A trio of movies that just so happened to be produced by an up-and-coming comic book film executive by the name of Kevin Feige.
"I have missed directing," Raimi admitted, referring to the last 13 years he's spent as a producer on genre movies like Don't Breathe, Crawl, Nightbooks, and even the 2013 remake of Evil Dead. "It's really the only thing I know how to do. I couldn't be a stockbroker or a banker or a plumber, and I'm thrilled to be working with my old friend Kevin Feige."
But times have certainly changed since Peter Parker changed the face of comic book movies forevermore. The filmmaking tools are better and what's more, Feige now has the time, people, money, and, of course, influence to take advantage of them all.
"[Sam] said, 'We might need four or five pre-viz and conceptual artists.' I said, 'Sam, we've got dozens. They're all yours,'" remembered the Marvel Studios chief. "It took me back to the days where I was just watching on the Spidey movies, and him having to fight for that, while essentially defining and revolutionizing what that kind of filmmaking was at the time."
Like Galactus coming to gobble up a tasty planet — or in this case, the multiverse — Raimi's return to the world of Marvel was heralded by the events of No Way Home, which brought Maguire, Willem Dafoe (Green Goblin), Alfred Molina (Doctor Octopus), and Thomas Haden Church (Sandman) back into the fold after all these years.
"I was honored," Raimi said when asked for his thoughts on the film, which not only pleased fans across the board, but also shattered all sorts of box office records. "It's like someone said, 'You know your old friends that have passed away? We've found a way to bring them back for a brief time.'"
If any of the rumors and theories are to be believed, Doctor Strange's jaunt across infinite realities will do the same exact thing on a scale hitherto unseen. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness portals onto the big screen Friday, May 6.