Sam Raimi is no stranger to Marvel movies. In fact, his Spider-Man trilogy paved the way for the current golden age of cinema about spandex-clad crusaders. It’s not hyperbolic to suggest that the Marvel Cinematic Universe would probably look vastly different today if Raimi hadn’t elevated the genre to soaring new heights back in 2002.
With this in mind, the news that Raimi might take on another popular Marvel hero is exciting. According to Variety, the director in talks to helm Doctor Strange In the Multiverse of Madness, replacing Scott Derrickson who departed the project earlier this year.
Word on the street is that the Master of the Mystic Arts’ next outing will embrace its horror sensibilities, which makes Raimi’s appointment even more inspired. He’s no stranger to scare fare, after all, having created the iconic Evil Dead franchise. He’s the ideal candidate to bring a spooky edge to the MCU.
Furthermore, Raimi has already given a shout out to the MCU’s favorite magician in the past. In Spider-Man 2, Doctor Octopus considered using the Strange name, but he ultimately rejected running with the moniker because it was already taken. While it’s a throwaway line in the grand scheme of things, it alludes to the existence of a wider Marvel universe in the context of the film while also suggesting that Raimi is fond of the character.
Of course, Raimi was vocal about his comic book passions long before it was the cool thing to do in Hollywood. During the early years of his storied career, he actively pursued Batman and The Shadow. But the studios who held the rights to those IPs didn’t trust the young director to get results at the time, so he did something even more interesting: he created an original superhero story and brought it to the screen.
Darkman is a bizarre action/horror hybrid that only Raimi could make. It contains some of the madcap dark comedy and monster movie sensibilities which he was primarily known for back then. But the film feels like a comic book brought to life, and it’s the type of movie that could only be made by someone who loves and understands crime-fighting crusader stories.
By the time Spider-Man rolled around, however, Raimi was like a kid in a candy store. He finally got to make a movie about his fictional idol. During interviews he’d talk about identifying with Peter Parker growing up, having empathized with the character’s experiences and problems in regards to navigating everyday life.
At the same time, Raimi found a way to translate the style of the comics for the screen. According to the director, he wanted to embrace the visual storytelling qualities of the literary source material.
“I was influenced by Stan Lee’s comic books and the great artists like John Romita and Jack Kirby who told stories with visuals that had a real in-your-face, over-the-top presentation. I was trying to bring that kind of imagery to life in those ‘Spider-Man’ films.”
The first two Spider-Man movies (even Raimi dislikes the third installment) worked because he understood the source material and figured out a way to bring the essence of Stan Lee’s comics to the screen. Doctor Strange is a different beast, of course, but it’s reassuring to know that the new film will potentially be in the hands of someone who’s passionate about the heroes that populate the pages of Marvel’s historic titles.
Raimi just loves superheroes and has expressed an interest in making movies about several of them, including Superman, Batman, Captain America, and the Fantastic Four. He’s also a big fan of Green Lantern, and he still longs to make The Shadow. If all goes according to plan with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, perhaps he’ll get a chance to helm the inevitable MCU Fantastic Four movie.
It’s only right that Raimi receives an opportunity to play around in the biggest superhero cinematic franchise of all time. He’s been flying the flag for these flicks throughout his career, and he was essential in showing that comic book adaptations could be credible and commercially successful works of art. When these movies are handled by talented filmmakers who are also fans, the rewards can be great for everyone.