Neil Gaiman and Guillermo del Toro once pitched a Doctor Strange movie for Marvel

Neil Gaiman is one of the most celebrated comic book writers ever, whose works have led to several film and television adaptations. Gaiman has also worked with both Marvel and DC comics throughout his illustrious career, but his stint with them has been largely ignored, at least in the live-action realm.

Gaiman, who is currently enjoying the success of his sandman adaptation on Netflix, recently revealed that he has pitched multiple projects unsuccessfully for Marvel Studios over the years, including a Doctor Strange film in collaboration with Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth) and a marvel 1602 amendment.


Speaking to Josh Horowitz of the Happy, Sad, Confused podcast (via The Direct), Gaiman recalled his encounters with Marvel boss Kevin Feige and his Doctor Strange movie ideas.

“Kevin and I have talked about things a few times over the years. The only one I wish, although chances are I think the way they did it commercially was better than… but I remember in 2007, featuring minimalist conversations with Kevin Feige on ‘What about Doctor Strange?’ Then talking to Guillermo del Toro, and Guillermo and I have these ideas about Doctor Strange and begin the beginning, I start the conversation with Kevin about ‘I could do Doctor Strange with Guillermo.’ And basically they said, ‘We just want to focus on the core characters now. Doctor Strange is way above the line, we don’t want to go there.'”

It’s odd that Marvel would pass Doctor Strange in favor of “core” characters, considering he’s just as if not more popular than Iron Man, the character that launched the MCU in 2008. Perhaps the studio thought Doctor Strange was too obscure at the time.

Related: Neil Gaiman tells story of how he sabotaged a previous Sandman adaptation

Neil Gaiman wanted a 1920s setting for his Doctor Strange Origin movie

Neil Gaiman had some radical ideas for his Doctor Strange movie. The acclaimed writer wanted the origin story of the Sorcerer Supreme to be set in the early 20th century. It wouldn’t take place entirely in that era, though, and Doctor Strange would eventually grow old (but still look the same) and appear in the modern day.

“There was some cool stuff in there. My favorite Doctor Strange thing was the idea of… all we really wanted to do was live his adventures, make him become an alcoholic and a disbarred doctor, all that sort of thing. things, happen in the 1920’s. So the idea is he went through all that and the training to be the world’s greatest magician maybe in the early 30’s, late 20’s, and he’s been living in Greenwich Village for 90 years and looks the same in his place, and no one really notices. We just liked that idea, and it would’ve been a little out of date. But otherwise it would’ve just kind of been like Steve Ditko, because, you know , that’s the best.”

Gaiman and del Toro’s ideas sound intriguing, but unfortunately we can only wonder what the MCU would look like today if Feige had continued with Doctor Strange in 2007. The character made his live-action film debut in 2016’s Underrated Doctor Strange who was succeeded in 2021 by Sam Raimi with Doctor Strange in the multiverse of madness.

A third Doctor Strange movie most likely happens as suggested by Multiverse of madness post-credits scene, and Guillermo del Toro would be a phenomenal choice for the director. He already has experience with comic book movies, after he was at the helm Sheet II and the hellboy series. Del Toro has also spent years developing the Justice League Dark movie, which probably won’t happen now, leaving him free to join the MCU.

As for Neil Gaiman, he’s currently campaigning for season two of the sandman, arguably the best adaptation of his works, but Netflix is ​​still undecided. Hopefully, the sandman will not suffer the same fate as Cowboy Bebop or Resident Evil.

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