The One Request Kevin Feige Had For The Doctor Strange Script

That sound you hear is me cracking my knuckles as I prepare to jump back on the soapbox in defense of one of Marvel's most interesting and sometimes unfairly dismissed movies. Long before a goateed Benedict Cumberbatch was helping out Thor and Loki or engaging Thanos in one-on-one combat or fighting off the Scarlet Witch while the fate of the multiverse rested on his shoulders, Doctor Strange was just a doctor (named Strange!) with an unbearable ego and a penchant for texting while driving. Horror director Scott Derrickson and writer C. Robert Cargill turned this Tony Stark knock-off into Marvel's weirdest superhero yet, infusing his origin story with a genuinely spiritual and refreshingly Eastern worldview to deliver something that the franchise had not yet seen.

Though Derrickson would eventually part ways with Marvel during development of the sequel, which turned into "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" under Sam Raimi's assured direction, the filmmaking duo clearly landed on their feet with the upcoming release of "The Black Phone." /Film's Jacob Hall recently had the chance to talk to Cargill about their latest horror flick, though the conversation inevitably turned to "Doctor Strange," as well. According to the writer, he found that Kevin Feige really only had one major edict when it came to revisions on his and Derrickson's script for the superhero movie.

Spoiler alert: it's probably not what you think it was.

'Can we make it weirder?'

2016's "Doctor Strange" continues to stand out from the rest of its peers in the Marvel Cinematic Universe — and not just because it's one of the only superhero films to wrestle with heroes killing people, contains Michael Giacchino's funky score, and spends time on that hilarious "Who's on first?" routine when Strange first introduces himself to the villainous Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelson). Derrickson and Cargill's film built a solid foundation for where other storytellers would take the character next, though it wouldn't have been the same without Feige's insistence on constantly making things new and, well, strange. According to Cargill:

"...with 'Doctor Strange,' I wrote drafts for nine months for a myriad of reasons. Never because it wasn't good enough, but always because, 'Can we make it better? Can we do this? Can we change this? We've got another film, that's doing something similar. So can we do this?' And it's always trying to craft something that fit into its own space in the MCU, that wasn't just a carbon copy of everything else.
And Marvel was fighting for that just as much as we were. I mean the greatest thing I can say about Marvel is every time we turn in a draft, Kevin Feige would be, 'This is awesome. Can we make it weirder?' And we're like, 'Yeah, we can make it weirder.'"

Even while acknowledging the realities of franchise filmmaking demands, it's clear that Cargill bears no ill will towards the studio. In fact, anyone who's been paying attention would say this recollection lines up perfectly with how Feige has encouraged filmmakers on other projects before, too.

'There's never enough money and there's never enough time'

One might be tempted to think that, just by virtue of their respective scope and scale, the experiences of working on a Marvel movie and then a low-budget horror movie like "The Black Phone" couldn't possibly have been more different for Scott Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill. That assumption would be correct ... for the most part, at least. When asked about the transition of moving from one production to the other, Cargill had this to say:

"Well, I mean, the thing is that the one thing that all movies share in common is there's never enough money and there's never enough time. You know, we had to cut more pages from 'Doctor Strange' because of budget than we've had to cut from our small horror movies. They're two very different beasts though. When you're making a four-quadrant movie, you're trying to make something that can appeal to everybody. Whereas when you're making a smaller budget movie, you can make something that doesn't appeal to everybody. That's not for everybody."

Cargill goes on to detail how he very much enjoyed the Marvel experience:

"I loved working in the Marvel machine. I love everybody at Marvel. I would gladly do it again. It is a machine, but it's a machine full of people that love comic books, love the movies they're making, that are all incredibly talented, that are great to work with."

As disappointing as it was that this duo didn't make the "Doctor Strange" sequel, we can't wait to see what they've done with "The Black Phone," which debuts June 24, 2022.