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The Reason Doctor Strange 2 Just Lost Its Director

This seeming impossibility has just become reality. 

Scott Derrickson, the filmmaker behind 2016's Doctor Strange, announced on Thursday, January 9 that he has stepped down as the director of the upcoming sequel film Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Taking to Twitter, Derrickson addressed the situation head-on and revealed the real reason why he's exiting the sequel project: he and the folks at Marvel Studios no longer see eye to eye, and the creative differences between the two parties were apparently too insurmountable for him to remain in the director's chair. He will, however, remain involved with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness as an executive producer. 

"Marvel and I have mutually agreed to part ways on Doctor Strange: In the Multiverse of Madness due to creative differences," Derrickson tweeted. "I am thankful for our collaboration and will remain on as EP."

Marvel Studios issued a formal statement shortly after Derrickson posted the news to his social media page. The company maintains that the decision was mutual, signaling that Derrickson wasn't fired from Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and didn't quit on a whim. Per Variety, the statement reads, "Marvel Studios and Scott Derrickson have amicably parted ways on Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness due to creative differences. We remain grateful to Scott for his contributions to the MCU."

Will Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness be negatively impacted by Scott Derrickson's exit?

The natural response to hearing that a film has lost its director is sheer panic. That panic quickly evolves into fear, with fans worrying that the production in question might be delayed as the studio scrambles to find a replacement. It's especially sticky when a director departs in the middle of filming and the project is left hanging in limbo until someone steps up and takes the helm, which can yield disastrous results if not done with care. Fortunately, when a film experiences a directorial switcheroo during pre-production, things tend to turn out just fine. And that's what's happening with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Though Marvel hasn't yet selected a new director to take Derrickson's place, Variety reports that the studio is already searching for a replacement. There's even more good news: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is on track to start shooting in May, and according to Variety, no delays are expected. An unaffected production schedule means that — assuming principal photography goes well and no extensive reshoot sessions are required, of course — the Doctor Strange sequel will still open on its intended release date of May 7, 2021.

Is Scott Derrickson's Doctor Strange 2 departure for the best?

Even when a production isn't negatively impacted by the loss of its director as far as its shooting schedule and debut date are concerned, there's still the risk of it being muddied by the new director's creative vision. Let's say an original filmmaker has a focused concept in place, but had to exit the project for personal reasons, and their replacement steps in with a radically new approach to the story. It would be difficult not to imagine what might have been with the O.G. director still at the helm, right? Just take the continued discourse surrounding Justice League as evidence of this phenomenon: People are still clamoring for a cut of the superhero film as directed by Zack Snyder, who departed from Justice League following a family tragedy and handed the proverbial keys over to Joss Whedon, whose final product was decidedly messy. 

In the case of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, a fair few fans are speculating that the inverse might ring true — that someone other than Derrickson directing the sequel could be a good thing. While Derrickson hadn't yet put his stamp on Doctor Strange 2, he did direct the original, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as the titular magic-wielding superhero. It was a critical and commercial success, coming in at an 89 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and earning $677.7 million worldwide, but some fans felt it didn't quite capture the spirit of Doctor Strange. IGN's Joshua Yehl is of this opinion, and he wrote on Twitter following the news of Derrickson's exit that he's "intrigued to see someone else handle Doctor Strange 2." He added, "The first one rubbed me the wrong way because it never quite felt magical enough."

Will Doctor Strange 2 still be the MCU's first scary movie without Scott Derrickson directing?

When one ponders about the potential positives of Derrickson dropping out of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, they must also remember what the film was intended to be. Derrickson indeed had big, exciting, specific plans for the film — ones that arguably no one else but him could execute with as much dexterity.

Marvel confirmed the project as part of its Phase 4 announcements at San Diego Comic-Con in July 2019, and in the months that followed, Derrickson noted that Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness would be the first horror film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. That descriptor meshes seamlessly with Derrickson's directorial style — the Sinister and Exorcism of Emily Rose filmmaker is all about spooks and scares, and there's arguably no one more equipped to bring into the MCU a sense of dread than a horror director who's already helmed a superhero film. But if Derrickson's no longer sitting in the director's seat, does that mean Doctor Strange 2 will no longer be tinged with terror?

It's basically impossible to say for certain at this point. However, some people are theorizing that the "creative differences" Derrickson mentioned as the reason why he left Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness actually rest in his and Marvel's contrasting views on horror. Did Derrickson want to take Doctor Strange 2 too far into the realm of horror? Did Marvel want to change too much of Derrickson's vision in order for it to appeal to viewers of all ages — and satisfy the big bosses at Marvel's parent company Disney? Again, there's no way of knowing right now. The best anyone can do is hope that Derrickson's replacement will at least somewhat honor what he had in mind for the film.