When talking with the director of any MARVEL film it’s always a bit exciting for me. These guys are the true mega fans who bring the vision and comics to life. Mr. Scott Derrickson is no different. He’s a fan first and director second. He took time out of his busy day at the press junket to talk to us Mom and Dad bloggers about the intricacies of the film. So let’s get to the interview:
Q: Speaking about special effects, can you tell us just how much work went into that?
SCOTT: Uh, a lot. Yeah, the visual effects…it was a long time developing them. It was one of the most creative parts of the whole process, because the idea going into it was to use visual effects for a new reason than what you usually get in big event movies. In big event movies, even in Marvel movies special effects are usually used to destroy things. It’s about destroying cities, because that’s what creates screen stimulus. I just felt committed to the idea of using those big expensive visual effects for something else, something new, something more interesting, and specifically, something trippy, and weird. To give the audience an unexpected experience.
Q: A lot of the visual effects and the music have, is from the ’60s, from the original comic. Is there any time that you guys thought about trying to update that, something for the modern audience? Or was there always this kind of throwback to the ’60s, the nod, and that trippy LSD type thing going on?
SCOTT: Well, you know, the ’60s comics were the primary influence for the movie, for sure. Those early Stan Lee, Steve Ditko comics, which were very much products of the ’60s, and the ’60s psychedelia. The weird imagery of the movie is so rooted in the Steve Ditko artwork from that era. I listened to almost nothing but, psychedelic rock from that era, while I was working on this screenplay. It’s why there’s one Pink Floyd track in there that’s from the first Pink Floyd album, back in their early psychedelic days.
What I wanted to do was to not, um, make a throwback movie, or a nostalgic movie. I didn’t want to try to go back and recapture the ’60s revolution feel, but I wanted to have that same mindset of open your mind, expand your mind, see things new. Look at a new aesthetic. Explore possibilities. That was the goal, was to take that ’60s mentality, and then bring it into a modern superhero movie and do it with a character who was about something, hopefully meaningful.
Q: Can you talk about your choice in choosing a woman for the Ancient one.
SCOTT: That choice was twofold. The first reason was because I was trying to find ways, creative ways, and positive ways, to escape the racial stereotypes from the original comics. They were products of the ’60s for good and bad, those comics. For bad, the Ancient One, and Wong, those two characters were, were pretty offensive racial stereotypes, by modern standards. Wong’s character, I was able to completely reinvent. I sort of inverted his character. Everything about his character in the comics, I just flipped on its head. Instead of a man servant, he’s a master of the mystic arts. Instead of a sidekick, he’s Strange’s intellectual mentor. So that was great. With the Ancient One, I couldn’t really do that. The Ancient One, for the story, origin story to work, still had to be a magical, mystical, domineering, martial arts mentor, to Doctor Strange.
So the first thing I wanted to do is make it a woman. I thought, okay, that’s fresh. I did that to get away from the cliché and the stereotype, but I also did that because I wanted a woman Tilda’s age. I wanted a woman who wasn’t the 26 year old, tightly leather clad, you know, hot, fan boy dream girl. I wanted to have a real woman, in the movie, in terms of trying to get diversity in there. I thought about casting an Asian woman. We had lots of discussion about that. But I couldn’t get away from the stereotype of the Dragon Lady. If you know anything about American cinema, and the portrayal of the Dragon Lady, you know, the, the anime movies and all that, I just felt like a trap, also. So then I started thinking, well who could bring the ethereal, enigmatic, mystical qualities of the Ancient One, from the comics, that are good? And I was like, Tilda.
Q: How does this, you writing and directing Marvel’s Doctor Strange, how did that all happen?
SCOTT: Well, I went after the job really hard. Like, really hard. I had eight meetings to get the job. It’s a very thorough process they go through, in hiring their directors. I grew up with Marvel comics. Doctor Strange is my favorite comic. When I heard they were making it, I felt like it was the only comic book character I was uniquely suited to do.
When I went in for the first meeting, I had my own opinion about what a Doctor Strange movie should be, and I felt very strongly about it. And when I went in for the first meeting, I was amazed at how in line my thinking about the comic was with theirs. That was the point where I just, it was almost like a switch flipped in my brain, and I just said, I’m getting this job, and I’m going to outwork everyone on the presentation. I wrote the astral fight that they have in the hospital, I wrote that 12 page scene, before my second meeting. Then I illustrated it. I spent a lot of money on, visual concept art, and — ‘cause I went in with a full vision, and just said, here’s what a Doctor Strange movie should be, and they were in alignment with it. I just love it. I love that comic so much. The movie is so true to the comics. It so obviously feels the way the comics feel, and is true to that origin story.
A neurosurgeon with a destroyed career sets out to repair his hands only to find himself protecting the world from inter-dimensional threats.
***Disclosure: I attended the #DoctorStrangeEvent My flight, lodgings, and expenses were covered by Disney All opinions are 100% mine. ***