As the internet is aflutter with buzz regarding Marvel’s very promising second 2014 release Guardians of the Galaxy, the studio is hard at work firming up plans for its next slate of films. Thus far, we only officially know about one Phase Three film, Ant-Man, which will directly follow The Avengers: Age of Ultron in 2015 and has Edgar Wright directing. The studio has release dates for “untitled” films through 2017, and Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige has strongly suggested that Doctor Strange will be one of those Phase Three films. Indeed, it now looks like Marvel is firming up plans for Doctor Strange, as the studio is currently vetting a shortlist of directors to take the helm of the project. Hit the jump for much more on who’s in the running and what the comic book adaptation entails.
The folks over at Heat Vision report that four contenders who have either met or are scheduled to meet with Marvel about the Doctor Strange directing gig are Mark Andrews (Pixar’s Brave), Jonathan Levine (Warm Bodies), Nikolaj Arcel (A Royal Affair), and newcomer Dean Israelite (Welcome to Yesterday). Kung Fu Panda scribes Jon Aibel and Glenn Berger are also apparently in the mix to pen the screenplay, as Marvel is looking to hire a writer and director team to work together on the property, or a director who can handle both tasks. A previous draft of the screenplay was written in Marvel’s development labs by Joshua Oppenheimer and Thomas Dean Donnelly, but it’s unknown how much of that script will survive this new development process once a director signs on.
The character of Doctor Strange is a tricky one to tackle, as he poses a challenge in that his powers come from mystical origins rather than something more “practical” like a gamma ray accident or super serum. Instead, the comics character is an egotistical neurosurgeon who is taught mystic arts by “the Ancient One” after a car accident renders his hands useless.
As for the director list, this is a fascinating group in that none of these directors have the level of experience of someone like Jon Favreau or Kenneth Branagh, but they all show promise. Andrews has been a longtime employee of Pixar, working on a number of the studio’s projects like The Incredibles and Cars before making his feature directorial debut on Brave. He also has experience with live-action having co-written John Carter, on which he also served as second unit director.
Levine is also an interesting choice. The filmmaker is more known for quieter dramedies like The Wackness and 50/50, and even when he delved into genre territory for Warm Bodies, he maintained his delicate sensibilities. Arcel may be the most experienced of the bunch, as the Danish filmmaker has four features under his belt including 2012’s Best Foreign Language Film Oscar nominee A Royal Affair and he’s currently attached to direct an adaptation of Fables. Conversely, Israelite is a newcomer who makes his feature directing debut with Paramount’s upcoming time travel found footage pic Welcome to Yesterday, produced by Michael Bay.
With Ant-Man moving into production later this year, the next film on Marvel’s docket will likely be Doctor Strange (or possibly a third Captain America film), so expect things to move rather quickly on this project. Hopefully we hear more soon.