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Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange

Last month, it was announced that Scott Derrickson, who directed 2016’s Doctor Strange, would be stepping down from helming duties on the sequel, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Derrickson remains on board as an executive producer, but as for who will direct in his place, apparently Sam Raimi, who already has some experience when it comes to Marvel, is being courted to take the reins.

Nearly two decades after the first movie in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy came out and helped launch the modern era of superhero movies, Variety reports that the filmmaker is in talks to direct Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. With production still set to begin this May, Marvel Studios feels that Raimi is just the guy to ensure that the proverbial ball gets rolling on schedule.

Also well-known for making the original Evil Dead trilogy, Sam Raimi was a key figure in superhero movies becoming Hollywood mainstays with his three Spider-Man movies, released between 2002 and 2007. Following the release of Spider-Man 3, Raimi has only directed two movies: 2009’s Drag Me to Hell and 2013’s Oz the Great and Powerful. He co-developed the Starz series Ash vs. Evil Dead.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is an opportunity to put his stamp on a much different kind of superhero, though for now, he hasn’t officially signed on. Still, if a deal is worked out, Raimi will be one of the most established filmmakers to tackle a Marvel Studios film, with the company oftentimes choosing directors who’ve only done a few movies before and/or don’t have blockbuster-making experience.

One thing that’ll be interesting to see is if Sam Raimi can bring his horror sensibilities to Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. At last year’s San Diego Comic-Con, Scott Derrickson labeled the sequel as Marvel’s first horror movie, but in December, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige said that wouldn’t be the case, although it will have “scary sequences.”

This has prompted speculation that one of the reasons Scott Derrickson stepped down from directing Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is because he couldn’t go full horror with it, among other things. Whether that’s the case or not, given Doctor Strange’s horror roots from the comics and Sam Raimi’s past work, ideally Kevin Feige’s claim will be honored and Raimi will be able to infuse some frights into the sequel’s story.

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Although Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is Stephen Strange’s second standalone movie, it’ll be his with MCU appearance. Following his franchise debut in 2016, he cameoed in Thor: Ragnarok and was part of Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame’s massive ensembles.

As for who will be joining Benedict Cumberbatch in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, we’ve known for a while that Elizabeth Olsen will reprise Scarlet Witch, and her Disney+ series WandaVision will also tie into the movie. Benedict Wong and Chiwetel Ejiofor are also expected to reprise their roles of Wong and Karl Mordo, respectively. While Wong remains one of Strange’s most trustworthy allies, Mordo turned his back on the hero at the end of the first Doctor Strange movie and is on the road to becoming his nemesis.

Variety also reported that Rachel McAdams will not reprise her role of Stephen Strange’s surgical colleague and love interest, Christine Palmer. At the end of 2018, there was word that McAdams would return, but assuming this latest update is correct, evidently things have changed over the last year.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is still scheduled to work its magic in theaters on May 7, 2021, and be sure to look through our Marvel movies guide to learn what else the MCU has coming up in Phase 4 and beyond.