‘Doctor Strange’ Sequel Loses Director Scott Derrickson

Published on January 11, 2020

In a surprising turn of events, director Scott Derrickson has exited Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Derrickson directed the first movie and was already working on its sequel, which was said to feature horror scenes similar to Derrickson’s past work, Sinister and The Exorcism of Emily Rose. Derrickson now joins other talented filmmakers who’ve split from Marvel in the past over “creative differences.”

Scott Derrickson Exits Doctor Strange 

Variety broke the news that Marvel and Derrickson didn’t see eye-to-eye on the Doctor Strange sequel. No details behind the exact differences, per usual, but here’s Marvel’s broad statement: 

“Marvel Studios and Scott Derrickson have amicably parted ways on ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ due to creative differences. We remain grateful to Scott for his contributions to the MCU.”

Derrickson released his statement on Twitter:

“Marvel and I have mutually agreed to part ways on ‘Doctor Strange: In the Multiverse of Madness’ due to creative differences. I am thankful for our collaboration and will remain on as EP.”

The sequel is expected to remain on schedule with a May shoot and a May, 2021 release date. Marvel is already looking for a replacement for Derrickson. Big shoes to fill. 

The Horror!

This is purely speculation, but what if Marvel and Disney got cold feet making a horror superhero movie that’s not like the last five or ten movies they’ve made? They’ve produced different movies, yes, but they almost always have the exact same tone and sense of humor. The studio has never really stretched themselves in that regard. 

Recently, Kevin Feige walked back on a promise of a Marvel horror movie. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness was said to bring horror to the franchise. Only a few weeks ago, however, Feige backtracked and clarified that while it’s a superhero movie with scary elements in it, it is not a horror superhero movie: 

I wouldn’t necessarily say that’s a horror film, but it is, as Scott Derrickson, our director, has pitched it, it’ll be a big MCU film with scary sequences in it. The way, when I was a kid in the 80s, Spielberg did an amazing job. I mean, there are horrifying sequences in Raiders that I as a little kid would [covers his eyes] when their faces melted. Or Temple of Doom, of course, or Gremlins, or Poltergeist. These are the movies that invented the PG-13 rating, by the way. It’s fun to be scared in that way, and not a horrific, torturous way, but a way that is legitimately scary, because Scott Derrickson is quite good at that, but scary in the service of an exhilarating emotion.

Other Directors Marvel Left Cold 

Creative differences happen all the time, but they happen a lot at Marvel. Famously, Edgar Wright spent years of his life working on Ant-Man, only to depart after the studio wanted a safer or more commercial version of the character. Remember when Marvel threw shade at Edward Norton when they decided to recast The Hulk, claiming he’s not a team player? Potential subtext in that instance: he had a vision. 

Recently, filmmaker Lucrecia Martel turned down Black Widow because reps from the studio told her “not to worry about the action scenes,” meaning they’d handle them themselves, not the filmmakers. Marvel has given some very good filmmakers enough freedom to let their voices shine in a comic book movie. However, they haven’t given that freedom to all their filmmakers. Now, Scott Derrickson is one of those filmmakers. He’s in good company. 

Why Derrickson’s Departure is a Shame

With the brisk origin story Doctor Strange, it was like Derrickson only got to scratch the surface of this weird and huge universe of wizards and funky creatures. The character and world were perfect for Derrickson. It was a good match between the filmmaker and the material. Plus, Derrickson had talked about wanting to make an epic sequel with a villain worthy of his hero, which the first movie was lacking. It was a fun, stylish adventure film, but there was the untouched potential that Derrickson could’ve delivered on in a sequel.

Jack Giroux is a Staff Writer at Grit Daily. Based in Los Angeles, he is an entertainment journalist who's previously written for Thrillist, Slash Film, Film School Rejects, and The Film Stage.

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