Doctor Strange 2 Director Sam Raimi Explains His Process: 'A Different Take, Something Unexpected'

The path that filmmaker Sam Raimi took to end up in charge of another Marvel superhero was a long and winding one — full of unexpected developments and an odd (some might say strange) confluence of unlikely events. Maybe it was destiny? In that sense, it's a journey that's perfectly fitting for the director of "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness." 

I could almost picture Benedict Cumberbatch's Stephen Strange hovering off the ground, looking through potential futures, and landing on the exact one-in-a-million outcome where Raimi ended up back in the realm of superheroes after his disastrous experience on "Spider-Man 3." Stepping in for previous director Scott Derrickson on the "Doctor Strange" sequel could've been an unenviable position to be in, but by all accounts Raimi made the transition as smooth as possible. How? By doing it entirely his own way.

Raimi's Return

Marvel's grand plans for Doctor Strange's post-"Avengers: Endgame" appearances were temporarily derailed when the studio mutually parted ways with director Scott Derrickson. As much as I enjoyed Derrickson's take on the first movie, things may have worked out for the best when Sam Raimi, of all directors, was enlisted to take over. 

Raimi, of course, directed Sony's "Spider-Man" movies to critical acclaim in the early 2000s and even managed to sneak in a funny (and, at the time, niche) Doctor Strange reference. Collider recently talked with the filmmaker as he was promoting the horror/fantasy Netflix film "Nightbooks" and asked him about maintaining his improv-heavy approach to filming on the "Doctor Strange" sequel.

"It's always an improvisation, just to begin with, so I don't even think of it like [a specific choice]. The actor brings what they bring. That's their improv. It's what the role is. Granted, Scott Derrickson set up a very very strong foundation with great characters and story and visuals with Benedict Cumberbatch, but nevertheless, it's a new story. Every time the actor steps in front of the camera, everyone's making everything from scratch. So just for me, because that's my point of view, another improvisation, a different take, something unexpected, something thrown at the actor for them to respond to live on camera is exciting. It's just a continuation of that same process."

Marvel Studios is famous for maintaining a tight grip on all aspects of the filmmaking process, but it doesn't sound like Raimi encountered any issues with incorporating his fast-and-loose style despite working on such a massive budget and scale. Derrickson's departure may have signaled a fresh wave of backlash over Marvel not allowing a certain degree of freedom to directors — but it's not like Raimi hasn't had experience in navigating these sorts of studio difficulties before.

"Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" comes to theaters on March 25, 2022.