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Marvel Studios head honcho Kevin Feige has finally set the record straight on why filmmaker Scott Derrickson parted ways with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. While some might have been hoping for some scandalous creative drama, the truth is much simpler and can be summed up in the two words both parties cited two years ago: creative differences. Yeah, we know that's a catch-all Hollywood term to describe head-butting behind the scenes of a production, but according to Feige, the decision was pretty amicable.
"We love Scott and I think Scott feels the same," Feige told Empire for the magazine's May 2022 issue (now on sale). "Nobody believes it, but it was just creative differences."
Since Multiverse of Madness was initially described as the MCU's first horror movie, the prevailing theory that Derrickson, who is still on board as an executive producer, wanted to push further into the genre than the studio was willing to go. "There's been some thought that was the creative difference with Scott and Marvel, and it was not," Feige, who has likened the movie's horrific side to '80s-era touchstones like Raiders of the Lost Ark and Poltergeist, continued. "Because we love that idea. The intention was that Strange would guide us into a much creepier side of the world."
Derrickson was ultimately replaced with Spider-Man vet Sam Raimi and the original script (co-authored by Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill) was entirely rewritten by Loki head writer/executive producer Michael Waldron. The original director was a good sport about the whole situation and even praised the choice of Raimi on social media.
"We tried not to be afraid of going to places that will make the audience go, 'Oh my God, I can't believe I just saw that,'" Waldron explained. "But they're not gonna care unless they're invested in the main character. And Strange is such a fascinating hero."
The screenwriter made a similar remark last summer during a conversation with SYFY WIRE. "How can you go deeper into the character of Stephen Strange?" he mused. "This is a guy who’s been through a lot in the last several years. What effect does that have on somebody so powerful? That’s exciting. And beyond all that, he’s just a great adventurer — a great adventure hero you just like to watch kick ass."
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness arrives in theaters everywhere Friday, May 6. Instead of directing the MCU sequel, Derrickson moved on to The Black Phone (an adaptation of the Joe Hill story of the same name), which arrives Friday, June 24.