Right on the heels of introducing the world to the Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel is on the hunt for a director to bring their next lesser-known comic book hero Doctor Strange to life. While Strange is probably a slightly better known character to non-comic book devotees than the cosmic misfits that make up the Guardians, he still resides firmly on the fringes of public awareness, despite the character being an essential figure in Marvel’s long-running comic book universe. Presently, there are four names that Marvel is considering to handle this new project: Mark Andrews, Nikolaj Arcel, Dean Israelite, and Jonathan Levine.
First, a bit about the character: Doctor Strange, a surgeon turned sorcerer, learns the secrets of mysticism after a car accident ruins the nerves in his hands, and ends his medical career. Strange often battles with bigger ideas than his spandexed counterparts, and the character’s stories have long been steeped with cosmic questions and mystical settings mixed with ’60s psychedelia and psychology. Created in 1963 by the legendary Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, the publication ensnared free-minded college students who were surprised to learn that comics could pack such an intellectual wallop. Doctor Strange is far from your typical Marvel superhero. He’s a man of fierce intellect, and he often serves as a spiritual guidepost for much of Marvel’s crowded superhero landscape. He juggles whiz bang action with serious surrealism and mysticism, and these disparate elements need to be merged into his upcoming adventure.
Marvel is currently courting several directors to craft Doctor Strange’s first live-action adventure, and the field is a diverse smattering of directors from all over the filmmaking landscape. They’ve also approached screenwriters Jon Aibel and Glenn Berger to pen the script, and are considering Hannibal star Mads Mikkelson to play the title character. Depending on who they ultimately choose to direct, the Doctor Strange film could potentialy take a very different shape when all is said in done. Let’s look at Marvel’s short list of directors:
Notable Works: Brave
Why He Fits: Andrews has had a long and storied career in animation, and has served as a storyboard artist for several animated modern classics, including The Iron Giant and Ratatouille. He also directed and co-wrote Pixar’s Brave, an underappreciated gem. Andrews might be able to transfer his long career working with storyboards, which are themselves essentially comic book blueprints for animated films, into the creation of a film based on actual comics.
Notable Works: A Royal Affair
Why He Fits: The characters and stories that make up Doctor Strange’s publication history have always had a foreign and even otherworldly flair to it, with the Doctor often going way outside of his Greenwich Village home to investigate different mysteries. The good doctor often bumps into strange creatures on his travels. Director Arcel already has experience directing lavish set pieces and costumes with his work in A Royal Affair, though it remains to be seen if he can translate the detailed production work for a period piece into a film with comic book sensibilities.
Notable Works: Nothing Yet
Why He Fits: Dean Israelite’s filmography is very much a work in progress at the moment. The director is by far the least recognizable name on the list, with little on his resume besides a couple of short films. In 2014, we’ll see Israelite’s first feature film, Welcome to Yesterday: a loopy looking found-footage time travel genre bender that seems like the angsty teenage offspring of Primer and Chronicle. The trailer for the film shows that the director has gained some experience in special effect filmmaking which he can apply to a Doctor Strange film.
Why He Fits: Comic book movies aren’t all visuals and explosions, and Levine has shown that he can do wonders with a great script. Levine has done some great genre filmmaking with his work on Warm Bodies, but he also has a delicate enough of a touch to hit all the right notes in a film like 50/50, which is full of smaller moments, as well as boisterous comedy. All of his films also share a sharp wit, something that is always present in Marvel’s films.