SPOILER ALERT FOR DOCTOR STRANGE!!
Many of us have seen Doctor Strange yesterday, or the day before that, and we already have questions about what happened here, why this happened, and so on and so forth. Who better to answer questions on Strange’s friendly cape, Dormammu’s defeat, the Ancient One, and the film’s villain than the movie’s screenwriter, Jon Spaihts? He sat down with THR to talk details, starting with the incredible Dormammu part of Doctor Strange, and how the scene was brainstormed.
“It’s one of the sequences I’m most proud of and there was a version not very different from what you see in the first draft. I was able to come back at the end of the project and do some more work to help bring the movie home and refine that still further. But I think the seed of the idea actually came from Kevin Feige in the room. We were trying to figure out how that final battle could go, and Kevin was focused on his long play with the Eye of Agamotto and the role it’s going to play in his grand design in the cinematic universe — very focused on Strange’s manipulation of time. It was Kevin Feige in the room who said, “Could he trap him in time?” And that led me to write the sequence that you see.”
When asked how many times Strange dies in the sequence with Dormammu, Spaihts didn’t really have a specific answer, but focuses on the unknown part of it.
“There is a deliberate ambiguity there. It’s one of those places where you want not to over explain. But I think he dies dozens of times, if not hundreds of times in there. I think he really gets a taste of eternal sacrifice and sticks to his guns.”
He was also asked if Strange will become the new ‘Tony Stark’ of the MCU, if Robert Downey Jr. ever stops playing Iron Man.
“I can’t speak for what’s on Kevin Feige’s radar. Certainly, for my part, I was just trying to serve this character well. There is a kind of vague parallel between the two of them. These are both rich, successful, brilliant men with a sardonic wit and an eye for the ladies. And they have fairly similar looks. Happily, I think the simple reality of having them played by these two very individual and talented actors will serve to differentiate them. As for whether Strange will inherit the mantle of the cocky patriarch of the Avengers, I have no idea. Obviously, no one wants to see Downey stop playing this role.”
Sadly, we saw the end of another character in the MCU, who unsurprisingly didn’t last too long, giving room for Strange to take up the mantle of Sorcerer Supreme, hopefully. The Ancient One met her end in Doctor Strange, and with her demise, her job is now open for another to take her place. The question is will we be seeing Strange take it?
“There’s a partial answer to the question in one of the tags at the end of this film. But I think the question hangs out there. It’s one of the possible points of origin for the standalone Doctor Strange story to come. As we leave the world, this smoking aftermath of this brush with nonexistence, it is an Earth without its protector. The aspiring replacement for that protector is green and new and still has a lot to learn and that’s a world in peril. I think that could very well be the starting point for the following story.”
Another character who made a real imprint in the film was Strange’s cloak of levitation, who had a real personality that filled the role of comedic relief of the middle to final part of the movie. In the road to make the cloak an actual character, Spaihts had much to say.
“We all agreed that the cloak’s semi-sentience was an asset. That’s an interesting tightrope to walk because in the comics, the amulet, the Eye of Agamotto, often operates as a Deus Ex Machina. It solves problems all by itself and makes trouble go away, so with the respect to amulet we pushed back on that quality, but with respect to the cloak, we loved that semi-intelligence that made the cloak nearly a character. It was part of our vision from the get go. The exact way in which it does what it does changed from my first stab at it. In my first draft, the cloak also played a semi-comical role in the Sanctum Sanctorum battle, but it had been introduced at a different time and it played a different role. The business you see on screen during that battle came along after me.”
When it came to villain of Doctor Strange, some critics say that he was a bit weak, though he was better than other villains the MCU have carted out. When the subject was brought up, Spaihts agreed that is was an issue, but gave some reason behind it.
“We were very aware of it, and we talked about it a lot. It’s so important to get that right. Particularly in origin stories, it’s often difficult to serve the villain well, because you have to introduce the hero, take them through their transformation, and coming of age and then somehow get to a conflict they can win before the end of the film. Often the villain portion of that story can feel rushed. But the gift that the origin story from the comics of Doctor Strange gave us is that its villains are integrated into it. And while we innovated a little bit about how that villain story was to be told, we preserved that quality whereby the conflict that our hero found himself in was baked into the story of that hero’s coming of age.”
Doctor Strange is currently out in theaters for your enjoyment.