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Back when Tobey Maguire was the man behind the friendly neighborhood mask, director Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy at Sony was carving out a sort of mini Marvel movie-verse all its own, long before there ever was an official MCU.
Now Raimi is once again taking up superhero directing duties, this time for the upcoming Doctor Strange movie sequel. But his decision to dive back in for a fresh dip into Marvel’s deep comic book treasure trove wasn’t necessarily a sure thing — especially after the poor reception fans showed Spider-Man 3, the final film in what has otherwise remained a classic pre-MCU series.
Speaking recently with Collider, Raimi admitted the enduring tepid response to that 2007 movie was “awful,” and that the whole experience left him thinking he’d never helm another superhero story again. But, he said, the foundation laid down by director Scott Derrickson in the first Doctor Strange movie was so solid that he was willing to engage once more, this time with a different Marvel hero who’s always been near the top of his list of favorites.
“I didn't know that I could face it again because it was so awful, having been the director of Spider-Man 3,” Raimi candidly confessed. “The Internet was getting revved up and people disliked that movie and they sure let me know about it. So, it was difficult to take back on. But then, I found out that there was an opening on Doctor Strange 2.”
He’s talking, of course, about Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, the sequel to the 2016 film that introduced Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange — a character whose role in defeating Thanos would arguably go on to equal that of Tony Stark’s — into the MCU. Set to arrive this spring, the sequel is set to lay the early groundwork for Marvel’s unfolding setup in its newly-hatched cycle of Phase 4 MCU movies and Disney+ productions.
“My agent called me and said, 'They're looking for a director at Marvel for this movie and your name came up. Would you be interested?' And I thought, 'I wonder if I could still do it,’” Raimi said. “They're really demanding, those types of pictures. And I felt, 'Well, that's reason enough.' I've always really liked the character of Doctor Strange. He was not my favorite, but he was right up there with the favorites. I loved the first movie, I thought Scott Derrickson did a wonderful job, an incredible job. So, I said, 'Yeah.' They left the character in a great place. I didn't think I would be doing another superhero movie. it just happened.”
Though Raimi has remained engaged behind the scenes in production roles on a number of horror/thriller projects, the new Doctor Strange marks his first return to the director's chair since 2013's Oz the Great and Powerful. Speaking with SYFY WIRE earlier this year, Doctor Strange 2 screenwriter Michael Waldron (who also served as head writer and executive producer for Loki at Disney+) stayed true to Marvel’s tight-lipped policy on not spilling any plot details. But he did tease that longtime Raimi fans won’t have to look hard to recognize Raimi’s unique creative stamp.
“It’s a thrill ride with heart like you’d expect from a Sam Raimi superhero movie,” Waldron said. “Sam’s a genius and the way he moves the camera is really exciting and he’s not afraid to take chances. I think it’s gonna be a really cool experience for everybody.”
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness conjures its way into theaters on March 25, 2022.