Kevin Feige Thought There Was 'No Chance' Sam Raimi Would Want To Direct Doctor Strange 2

It's safe to say that the consensus reaction to the news that "Spider-Man" director Sam Raimi would be making his grand return to Marvel superheroes with "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" was mostly disbelief, mixed with sheer excitement over the endless potential of such a movie. But if both comic book fans and movie fans in general had such a strong response, then what about the folks behind the scenes at Marvel HQ? Studio head Kevin Feige famously got his start in the business by working under Sam Raimi on his "Spider-Man" movies for Sony, giving the future mastermind behind the Marvel Cinematic Universe a crash-course on just what talented directors could accomplish within the studio system when given some free rein.

But even that familiarity couldn't fully convince Feige, and the others in charge of finding a new caretaker for the suddenly director-less "Doctor Strange" sequel, that Sam Raimi, of all people, would be willing to step up in the aftermath of the studio's parting of ways with filmmaker Scott Derrickson. That possibility was treated as such a pie-in-the-sky pipe dream that Raimi never even figured into their early planning for replacement directors, despite how desperate they were to find a fill-in at such short notice.

As fate would have it (a concept that Doctor Strange himself would likely approve of), it was Sam Raimi himself who expressed an interest in the job. Everything fell into place rather quickly after that, according to Feige in the May 2022 issue of Empire magazine. To hear Feige tell it, Raimi's name never even made it onto a potential list of directors for the "Doctor Strange" sequel:

"Our executive producer, Eric Carroll, and Richie Palmer were calling around to see who was interested, and Sam's agent said, 'What about Sam Raimi?' We thought, 'That would be incredible, but there's no chance of that.' But he wanted to come in and meet. And in the first meeting, it was amazing to reconnect with him, and see his enthusiasm to jump back into this world."

As a fan of Derrickson's directing work on the first "Doctor Strange" film, I was sorry to see him go when the sequel seemed like a perfect opportunity to let him flex his horror muscles even more. That is, until Sam Raimi shockingly came into the fold.

Remembering the good ol' days

It's difficult to exaggerate just how important a role Sam Raimi's "Spider-Man" movies in the early 2000s would eventually play in setting the tone and general feel of the MCU years later. As much of a guaranteed success that the unstoppable Marvel franchise has established itself to be these days, it's very likely that we wouldn't even have an MCU without Raimi's genuinely groundbreaking work on "Spider-Man," proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that modern audiences would embrace a heartfelt and, yes, "cheesy" take on the classic superhero in live-action. Kevin Feige didn't take his experiences under Raimi's guiding influence for granted, however. In fact, his initial meeting with the director for "Multiverse of Madness" seemed to jog all sorts of memories from their days on "Spider-Man." Looking back, Feige recalls that:

"'[Raimi] said, 'We might need four or five pre-viz and conceptual artists.' I said, 'Sam, we've got dozens. They're all yours.' It took me back to the days where I was just watching on the 'Spidey' movies, and him having to fight for that, while essentially defining and revolutionizing what that kind of filmmaking was at the time."

That one little story certainly speaks to the immense resources Marvel has at their disposal, a luxury which Raimi may not have been accustomed to. After all, this is the same director who essentially cobbled together "Evil Dead" back in the day out of hopes, a vision, and a minuscule budget. For me at least, one of the joys of blockbuster filmmaking is seeing what distinctive directors with strong voices can accomplish on the biggest platforms available. That certainly holds true for Raimi's "Doctor Strange" movie, which should at the very least result in one of the more memorable offerings in the MCU to this point.

"Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" will come to theaters on May 6, 2022. The May 2022 issue of Empire Magazine will hit shelves on Thursday, March 17, 2022.