After the release of Doctor Strange: Multiverse of Madness, many fans expressed their disappointment at how underwhelming some concepts of the film felt – often at times lacking narrative logic or a sense of rhythmic, balanced pacing. Neil Gaiman, renowned as the author of The Sandman, recently talked about the pitch he made to the President of Marvel Studios, Kevin Feige back in 2007 regarding a project concerning the Supreme Sorcerer. Guillermo del Toro, who is notable for his distinct gothic-horror expertise and unique visual storytelling style, was also a part of this plan, and the two had high hopes for it.
This revelation has gotten the audience mourning over what could’ve been a promising endeavor to look forward to and with the way Gaiman described the premise, the fans simply cannot be blamed for feeling the way they do.
Neil Gaiman and Guillermo del Toro’s Pitch To Marvel
While appearing on the Happy, Sad, Confused live show, author Neil Gaiman talked to host Josh Horowitz about the supposed concept he had in mind for one of the most beloved characters amongst Marvel fans, originally created by the late Steve Ditko. When asked about the reasoning behind Marvel and DC not consulting the writer — who is known for his expertise in fictional archetypes, having created many memorable characters and projects himself — for their films, the comic book writer detailed his experiences with Marvel, specifically involving Feige.
According to the writer, the producer has spoken to him “a few times over the years.” The only aspect or a “wish” as the writer called it, which he wholeheartedly wanted to move forward with was in association with Doctor Strange. As stated by the writer, back in 2007, he used to engage in “minimalist conversations” with Kevin Feige over the Ditko-penned character. The talented author also had talks with Mexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro about the project, who mirrored Gaiman’s enthusiasm.
This is what Neil Gaiman had to say:
“I remember back in 2007, having minimalistic conversations with Kevin Feige about ‘What about Doctor Strange?’ Then talking to Guillermo Del Toro, and Guillermo and I having these ideas about Doctor Strange and starting the beginning; me starting the beginning of the conversation with Kevin about ‘I could do Doctor Strange with Guillermo.’”
Unfortunately, if we look at the timeline of Marvel Studios and their productions, it can be ascertained that back in 2007, they were on the cusp of beginning their commercial takeover. As a result, Gaiman and Del Toro’s project was denied. This is what the author had to say:
“Basically, they said ‘We just want to concentrate on the core characters right now. Doctor Strange is way up the line, we don’t want to go there.’”
Therefore, with their primary focus being characters like Iron Man, Captain America, and the rest of the Avengers, presumably, a film revolving around the Master of the Mystic Arts would have been a disconnected entity of its own. It does beg a question — would the film have worked if it were an independent venture? Perhaps.
A Doctor Strange Film Set In The 1920s
While detailing the premise of the denied project, Neil Gaiman emphasized how he wanted the character of Stephen Strange in the 1920s. A fan of Steve Ditko, Gaiman has never been shy to express the admiration he holds for his works, and how the premise planned by Del Toro and Gaiman was influenced by the late artist. According to his statement, it would have been very Steve Ditko-esque, cause “that’s the best.”
The following is what the writer revealed about the plan he had in mind for his rendition of Strange:
“[We wanted to] have him become an alcoholic and a disbarred physician, all that sort of stuff, happen in the 1920s. So the idea is that he went through all of that and the training to become the world’s greatest magician maybe in the early ’30s, late ’20s, and he’s been living in Greenwich Village. For 90 years. Looking the same in his place, and nobody really notices.”
The idea, according to many fans, felt like an opportunity that was missed out on. The premise, completely separated from the MCU canon, would’ve been remarkable, if pulled off correctly.
The Fans Are A Little Upset
Upon the breaking of such a reveal, which is not inherently new — years ago, Neil Gaiman mentioned it briefly in a tweet — the fans have stated their discontentment. With the commercial and critical success of Netflix’s The Sandman and Del Toro’s exuberant works like The Shape Of Water, many are opinionated to believe that Marvel Studios missed out on a distinct, mystical version of storytelling, which would’ve best suited a character like Strange.
Following is how some of the fans reacted:
I’m sorry. we could’ve had a NEIL GAIMAN AND GUILLERMO DEL TORO DOCTOR STRANGE FILM???? marvel you are so embarrassing https://t.co/IBl96KRgsG
— 🦇annabelle🦇 (@wwowizard) August 27, 2022
Friendly reminder that Guillermo del Toro and Neil Gaiman pitched their own Doctor Strange movie to Marvel once upon a time. Can you imagine the world building and visuals these two can put together in the MCU, especially those that involve the supernatural?
— IF YOU'RE NOT ANGRY THEN YOU'RE NOT LISTENING (@_kahel) May 4, 2019
i want to live in the alternate universe where doctor strange the MCU movie WAS made by guillermo del toro and neil gaiman like originally rumored
— madi 🔜 dragoncon 🐉 (@Hnybnny) November 2, 2021
no but Neil Gaiman would be a perfect match for a Doctor Strange movie like fr
— REYN ۞ | sandman era (@Kylostan12) August 27, 2022
Do you know how cool of a character doctor strange is that neil gaiman and guillermo del torro wanted to make a film about him AND george rr martin said he's his favorite marvel character and he wanted to write about him too
— vermouth (@sherlockgasm) August 27, 2022
While we can only make a theoretical and imaginative deduction of what a 1920s Doctor Strange movie would’ve looked like, there’s no denying that the concept itself would’ve acted like a breath of fresh air — something that Marvel seems to be in dire need of at the moment. Who knows, with the endless possibilities of filmmaking, perhaps such a rendition of Strange will become a reality one day. That’d be certainly something to look forward to.
Doctor Strange: Multiverse of Madness is available for streaming on Disney+.
Source: Josh Horowitz