It looks like Sam Raimi is heading back to the world of Marvel superheroes.
The director whose Spider-Man trilogy of films starring Toby McGuire as web-slinging superhero helped to launch the current wave of comic book films is reportedly in talks with Marvel Studios about taking the reins on their upcoming Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness.
The news comes from Variety and follows last month’s departure of director Scott Derrickson from the project. Derrickson was the one who shepherded the first Doctor Strange film to the big screen for Marvel in 2016. Derrickson and Marvel sited “creative differences” over the split.
Marvel had no comment on the Variety story, but that is not unusual. The studio rarely comments on ongoing negotiations with talent, only announcing these types of things once deals are closed.
This is not the first time that Raimi has flirted with a return to cinematic superheroes. In 2017, he was reportedly on the shortlist for Warner Brothers’ The Flash.
Production is set to start on Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness this coming May in order to reach its previously announced release date of May 7, 2021. Benedict Cumberbatch will be returning to play the title character of Dr. Stephen Strange, Earth’s Sorcerer Supreme and guardian against mystical threats. The movie should also see the return of Benedict Wong and Chiwetel Ejiofor from the previous Doctor Strange film. Elizabeth Olsen, who has played the superhero Wanda Maximoff, aka the Scarlet Witch, in several Marvel Cinematic Universe films is also reported to be part of the cast, especially as the events of her character’s upcoming Disney+ series WandaVision, to premier in December, apparently will somehow lead into the film.
It is hard not to see how Raimi would not be a great choice for the film. His Spider-Man trilogy inarguably laid much of the foundation for the current superhero film cycle, with the middle installment, Spider-Man 2 (2004) still being considered one of the high points of the genre. He certainly has enough credibility with fans, even if the trilogy’s third installment is not held in as high regard, though that is mostly due to interference from producer Avi Arad who insisted that Raimi shoehorn into the film the comic book villain Venom over the director’s objections.
Additionally, Raimi has some good horror films to his credit in the form of his Evil Dead trilogy starring his longtime friend and on screen collaborator Bruce Campbell. As Marvel Studios honcho Kevin Feige has stated that Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness would have a more horror film feeling to it, Raimi certainly has the resume experience for that.
As a Raimi fan, it will be nice to see him back behind the camera. After he completed his Spider-Man trilogy he has only made two films – the underrated horror pic Drag Me To Hell in 2009 and the somewhat disappointing Oz, The Great And Powerful in 2013. The remainder of the time he has been focusing his energies on producing horror films from mostly up and coming young directors through his Ghost House production shingle. And I can’t deny that I wouldn’t love to see how Raimi’s kinetic visual style meshes with the psychedelic visual tone already set for the Doctor Strange franchise by Derrickson.