In the closest we’ve gotten to a confirmation that Marvel Studios is working on a cinematic version of their Sorcerer Supreme “Doctor Strange,” The Hollywood Reporter is Hollywood reporting that the studio will be meeting with four directors this week.
Doctor Strange, for those with less than a passing knowledge of the over half a century old comics character, was created in 1963 by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. In the comics, Dr. Stephen Strange is an arrogant but brilliant surgeon who gets in a drunken car crash and loses the use of his hands. To get them back, he travels to visit the mystical Ancient One, a man who eventually trains him in the mystic arts. Though Strange initially rebels, over time he revokes his arrogance and gains the title of Sorcerer Supreme.
So basically, “Iron Man” but with magic.
According to the report, the directors Marvel is looking at are: Mark Andrews (“Brave”); Nikolaj Arcel (“A Royal Affair”); Dean Israelite (“Welcome to Yesterday”); and Jonathan Levine (“Warm Bodies,” “50/50”).
In addition, the studio may be looking to court Jon Aibel and Glenn Berger, the duo behind “Kung Fu Panda” to write the script. Which, given their experience with having an arrogant main character who travels to a remote dojo to learn mystical skills before learning to care for others seems pretty on the nose.
The director choices, on the other hand, are all over the map. Here’s what we think each one might bring to the project:
1. Jonathan Levine
At least around the MTV offices, Levine is the #1 choice for director. He’s also the most well known, so that may have something to do with it… But Levine knows how to balance comedy, pathos, and special effects, something that’s played into all of Marvel’s movies so far. In addition, Levine worked with Joseph Gordon-Levitt on “50/50,” and if we’re betting men we’d say JGL is Marvel’s first choice for Strange: the studio has reportedly tried to court the popular actor for roles numerous times, with no success so far.
2. Nikolaj Arcel
Arcel is an interesting choice given his grounded, more serious work… And that he’s worked primarily in Denmark. He’s also extensively worked as a screenwriter, including the critically acclaimed Danish version of “Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.” Again, far more serious than one would expect from Marvel Studios, but he knows the character drama, and Marvel always starts with character first.
In a mark against Arcel, last we heard he was onboard to direct Warner Bros. and DC Comics sprawling “Fables,” a presumably multi-film series that would almost definitely conflict with “Doctor Strange.”
3. Mark Andrews
Also known as the hometown favorite, Andrews is the in-house choice given his extensive work with Disney’s Pixar. He’s worked as a writer, storyboard artist, animation supervisor and director for multiple films at Disney over the past two decades.
One little mark against him, though: the last time Disney took a chance on giving a live action movie to a Pixar director, it was for a little disaster called “John Carter.” And guess who wrote “John Carter?” Yup, Andrews. We’ll see if they hold that against him.
4. Dean Israelite
Israelite is a bit of a question mark as he’s only directed one full-length feature — the found-footage time travel film “Welcome to Yesterday” — which has been put on indefinite hold. On the plus side, his cousin is Jonathan Liebesman, director of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” “Wrath of the Titans,” and far more FX heavy features. So if he needs advice, it’s only one cousin phone call away.
Who do you like for “Doctor Strange” director? And feel free to add your own!