In recent years, surely as a sign of the studio’s growth in stature and faith in its creative leanings, Marvel has gotten away from known directors for its projects (such as Jon Favreau on Iron Man, Edgar Wright on Ant-Man, and Kenneth Branagh on Thor) to more little known or unproven ones (The Russo Brothers on Captain America: Winter Soldier, Alan Taylor on Thor: The Dark World, and Shane Black on Iron Man 3). And it looks like that trend will continue on its latest offering.
The Hollywood Reporter’s Heat Vision blog states that Marvel is in the process of vetting director and writers to tackle the awesome task of bringing Doctor Strange to the big screen. They are said to be looking for writer/directors first, but will be willing to pair compatible writers and directors together.
On the director side, four names are mentioned, all with experience on the writing side of the business as well:
- Mark Andrews: A Pixar veteran (said to be Brad Bird’s right hand man), who was brought in to replace Brenda Chapman as writer and director on Brave (he is credited as co-director on the film).
- Nikolaj Arcel: A Danish filmmaker with four films he wrote and directed in his native Denmark (King’s Game, Island of Lost Souls, Truth About Men, A Royal Affair). He has no American films to his credit yet, although he has begun work as writer/director of the adaptation of Don Winslow book The Power of the Dog. His attachment to Doctor Strange has already brought rumors that he will bring fellow Dane Mads Mikkelson in as Stephen Strange, a move I am completely down with.
- Dean Israelite: The closest thing to a true unknown here (his sparse IMDB page lists only a number of short subjects he wrote and directed on his resume). He did recently complete his feature debut, the Michael Bay produced Welcome to Yesterday. The film was originally scheduled to come out next Friday, but was postponed indefinitely. There are two schools of though on the Internet about this, both good (that the film test so well they are looking for a summer or fall release) and bad (it’s delayed so Bay can go in and work it over. And if Bay is stepping because your film has problems, your film has problems).
- Jonathan Levine: He is the writer/director of the critically acclaimed Indie, The Wackness, and the exceptionally good Zom-Rom-Com, Warm Bodies. He has also directed All the Boys Love Mandy Lane and 50/50.
On the purely writer side, Glen Berger and Jon Aibel, known for their work on Monsters vs Aliens, the Kung Fu Panda films, and, ugh, the Alvin and the Chipmunks sequels in the lead to pen the screenplay if Marvel chooses to go the separate writer/director route.
What this all means, of course, is that Marvel is restarting the project from scratch and the previous take on the script by Joshua Oppenheimer and Thomas Dean Donnelly has most likely been scrapped. This also means that the likelihood of Doctor Strange being part of Marvel’s film slate in the near future is almost nil. The film, if it ever appears, most likely won’t appear until Phase IV or Phase V. Keep that in mind when you hear the next round of casting rumors.