Doctor Strange has become a center stone for the MCU’s Phase 4 (and possibly 5?), especially following the events of Spider-Man: No Way Home and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. But Marvel’s favorite magician’s road to dominance originally lived in developmental hell for decades before finally reaching the big screen. This led to big-named figures pitching their ideas for a film adaptation. One of those pitches came from Sandman creator Neil Gaiman and Oscar-winning director Guillermo del Toro. Gaiman spilled on the scrapped plans for del Toro’s Doctor Strange movie, which sounds truly wild.
The Sandman creator spilled details on the unknown Doctor Strange pitch to the Happy, Sad, Confused podcast (via Insider). Neil Gaiman revealed he and Marvel CEO Kevin Feige had spoken about teaming up for a Marvel film based on the mystic wizard before Scott Derrickson hopped on board to helm the first film. The talks between the men went back to 2007 before the first Iron Man film even hit movie theaters.
Neil Gaiman and Kevin Feige spoke about the possibility for years. At the time, the Avengers, including Captain America, were the primary focus of Feige and Team Marvel. Talks got far enough that he and Guillermo de Toro presented their take on Doctor Strange. According to the multimedia icon, his and de Toro’s idea for the Marvel magician would’ve been a far departure from the doctor audiences have come to love.
It seemed like Neil Gaiman and Guillermo del Toro wanted to give Dr. Stephen Strange a blend of Tony Stark and Steve Rogers’ storylines. Given Iron Man and Captain America were either filming or in development at the time, the duo’s take may have conflicted with those stories.
But Neil Gaiman and Guillermo del Toro’s sci-fi and fantasy pedigree might’ve given audiences a cosmic spectacle for the ages. Of course, the two-time Oscar winner had already dabbled in the superhero genre with Blade II and the Hellboy franchise. Not having the event-changing car accident in the film would’ve been an interesting move. Seeing an ageless and alcoholic Stephen Strange living through multiple centuries would’ve been a different take on the beloved magician. Gaiman’s storytelling and de Toro’s direction would’ve been a treat to see as the duo wanted to pay homage to Strange creator Steve Ditko’s original mystical vision.
While the duo’s vision never came to life, Doctor Strange has affected the MCU since making his debut in the 2016 namesake film. Along with its blockbuster sequel, Benedict Cumberbatch has appeared as the world's greatest magician in multiple Marvel outings, including Thor: Ragnarok and the Infinity Saga finale Avengers: Endgame.
Both Neil Gaiman and Guillermo del Toro have moved on since then. Gaiman is currently experiencing tremendous success with the much-loved Netflix series The Sandman. Del Toro is tapping into the fantasy world with his Netflix adaptation of Pinocchio, which will arrive on the streamer in December. If you want to watch Dr. Stephen Strange in action, get a Disney+ subscription to watch Doctor Strange and its sequel Multiverse of Madness. You can watch the best movies on the streamer while you’re there.
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