With the Guardians Of The Galaxy and Captain America: The Winter Soldier roll-outs well underway, Marvel/Disney is turning its attentions to projects further in the future. Ant-Man is coming together with Edgar Wright and a surprising cast, and now the studio has drawn up its shortlist of possible writers and directors for Sorcerer Supreme Dr. Strange. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Mark Andrews, Nicolaj Arcel, Dean Israelite and Jonathan Levine are currently having conversations about manning the cameras, while John Abel and Glen Berger might be in the frame for the screenplay.
Dr. Strange was originally born from the brains of Stan Lee and art genius Steve Ditko, and began life as a selfish New York surgeon (named Stephen Strange) who loses his professional skills in a car crash. After falling on hard times, he visits a healer in the Himalayas known as The Ancient One, and learns to tap into psychic powers. In recognition of his selfless efforts to thwart evil fellow disciple Baron Mordo, he’s taught the mystical arts and sets out to defeat other shady sorcerers and various villains.
The names on the current director list are further evidence of Marvel's willingness to think outside the box in summer blockbuster terms. Following the likes of Wright, Kenneth Branagh and Patty Jenkins (although that one didn't work out so well), and in the wider world of Marvel, Lexi Alexander, Neveldine/Taylor, Gavin Hood, Marc Webb and Josh Trank, three of the four names named this morning have an indie, international or low-budget pedigree, while one comes from Pixar (a studio that has been named in connection with Dr. Strange before).
Arcel was behind last year's A Royal Affair, the Danish period drama starring Mads Mikkelsen, nominated for 2013's Best Foreign Film Oscar. But, last we heard, he's also currently attached to DC/Warner's Fables. Would he do that and Dr. Strange, or jump ship?
Israelite, meanwhile, has just wrapped the found-footage teen time-travel flick Welcome To Yesterday, and Levine is coming from the double success of slacker cancer comedy 50/50 and zom-rom Warm Bodies. Andrews is the Pixar guy, left holding the Brave parcel when the music stopped for Brenda Chapman. He also co-wrote John Carter and was story supervisor for The Incredibles.
In the writing corner, Abel and Berger were the team behind Kung-Fu Panda, but THR believe Marvel may well prefer a director who'll pen his own script, rather than a separate writing team, however closely they're working with the top dog. What's clear is that we're no longer talking about the draft penned a couple of years ago by the Conan and Sahara pairing of Joshua Oppenheimer and Thomas Dean Donnelly.
Dr. Strange, as one of Marvel's weirder characters, will need careful attention if he's not to appear camp or goofy. But with the studio's success at integrating the mythological Thor into its more "grounded" universe, and more out-there stuff on the way in the form of Ant-Man and Guardians, there's every reason to believe Kevin Feige and his cohorts already have a plan.
Whether any of the aforementioned names actually land the gig, or whether the good doctor ends up with someone else entirely, remains to be seen. We will, obviously, keep you posted. In the meantime, have a look at Empire's indispensible musings on who might play Stephen Strange himself.