From Spidey to the Multiverse: Director Sam Raimi’s Strange Marvel Journey

It seems oddly appropriate that Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness was released on May 4, 2022, exactly 20 years and one day after director Sam Raimi’s first film Spider Man The film was released in theaters in 2002.

Superhero movies have come a long way since that very first Spidey film, which arguably started the craze for more superhero content in the first place, and laid the groundwork for launching the universe. Marvel Cinematic (MCU) six years later with Iron Man.

And in a weird (pun intended) quirk of fate, Raimi’s Peter Parker – played by Tobey Maguire – recently made an appearance alongside his successor Andrew Garfield and current incumbent Tom Holland in the last year. Spider-Man: No Coming Homemarking the first official multiversal crossover in an MCU movie (we’re not counting Disney+ TV shows, obviously).

So now that Raimi’s movie is technically part of the MCU, albeit through the multiverse loophole, what does he think about dipping his feet back into the Marvel pool with Multiverse of Madness (MOM)?

“I am honored to have helped tell the stories of these great characters created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. I consider myself just another of the storytellers in their long line,” the 62-year-old director said during a recent roundtable via videoconference with journalists from Asia-Pacific.

Director Sam Raimi arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of ‘Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness.’ May 2, 2022 – Photo: AP

“There are so many writers and illustrators in the Marvel bullpen with so many great ideas coming and going that in their own way they made these movies for 30 to 40 years before I came to do my Spider-Man movie.

“I tried to go into this (MOM) work the same way – not seeing it as the future or a game-changing event, but literally, the next installment in an ongoing saga of Marvel storytelling. is the continuing saga in the character growth of Dr Strange and Scarlet Witch.

The Multiverse Takes Center Stage

MOM is defined after No coming homein which Doctor Strange (played by Benedict Cumberbatch) opened the doors to the multiverse with a failed spell meant to make everyone forget that Peter Parker is Spider-Man.

This time around, the multiverse takes center stage when he meets new character America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez), a new hero who has the power to open “stellar portals” to other universes.

This power, however, paints a target on her back as an unknown evil force seeks to control her.

Along with the Sorcerer Supreme Wong (Benedict Wong), Strange must protect America, while figuring out who is after his powers. To do so, he seeks out former Avenger Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) for mystical help, but ends up with more than he bargained for.

Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Stephen Strange in a scene from Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Stephen Strange in a scene from “Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness”. – Photo: The Walt Disney Company Malaysia

In another director’s hands, the Multiverse would have been an easy excuse to pick out major scenes and events from Marvel’s comics and throw them into the movie as fan service.

However, Raimi decided to approach MOM differently and focus only on the stories of its main characters.

According to Raimi, the continuation of the plots of the Avengers films and the Infinity Saga was what concerned him and co-writer Michael Waldron the most.

“Where did we leave Dr. Strange?” Where did we leave Wanda? What is the next logical adventure for these characters? That was really the impetus to work on the script with Michael,” Raimi explained.

His background on the Spider-Man movies also proved key in preparing for MOM, especially when it came to “big action sequences.”

“I had learned a bit about directing the ones from the Spider-Man movies, where there were huge amounts of visual effects and animation.

“I learned a lot about techniques and what to look for, and I was able to apply those lessons here,” he said.

“Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness” has its fair share of trippy and even horror elements. – Photo Walt Disney Company Malaysia

But MOM is more than just superhero action – there are also scenes that could also be part of the horror genre.

The element of horror is another of Raimi’s specialties, having made cult favorites such as the evil Dead series and drag me to helland MOM has her signature style throughout.

“Horror movies I made when I was younger taught me a lot about creating suspense in the sequences, titillating the audience and creating fear,” he said.

“I took some of my knowledge of this genre and applied it to creating Multiverse of Madnessbecause there is scary and scary stuff in this movie.

Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff in a scene from Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff in a scene from “Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness”. – Photo: Walt Disney Company Malaysia

Back in the Marvel Sandbox

Raimi said the most exciting part of directing MOM is that he got to explore different aspects of Doctor Strange through the lens of the multiverse.

“He can see different versions of himself, so I wanted him to be able to, in some cases, explore the dark side of himself,” Raimi explained.

“What if he allowed more basic instincts to make decisions for him?” What if he had listened to that little devil on his shoulder and made worse choices in his life?

“Across the multiverse, Strange is going to have the opportunity to see what happened to him, and I think that’s the point of telling a multiverse story.”

(Left to right) Xochitl Gomez as America Chavez, Benedict Wong as Wong, and Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange.  – Photo: The Walt Disney Company Malaysia(Left to right) Xochitl Gomez as America Chavez, Benedict Wong as Wong, and Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange. – Photo: The Walt Disney Company MalaysiaRaimi directs Cumberbatch on the set of Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness.  - DocumentRaimi directs Cumberbatch on the set of Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness. – Document

Having different versions of the same character also means having to direct the actors differently, which he found really exciting.

“They’re all such great actors, and they came into this job with their characters fully developed.

“Benedict played Doctor Strange in his own movie and then in five other Marvel movies, so he knows this character inside and out,” Raimi said, adding that because Cumberbatch knows the character so well, the actor might change some. one or two. aspects of the character and it makes for a completely different weird in the multiverse.

“Benedict played Doctor Strange in his own film and in five other Marvel films, so he knows this character inside and out,Ultimately, being a fan of the franchise and a huge comic book geek, Raimi is happy to play in the Marvel sandbox again after all this time.

“I think they succeed because the Marvel team is so careful to protect their characters and their integrity,” he explained.

“They know the comics, they know the story, they really love the stories that have been told, and they put a lot of effort into making sure they’re accurate and tell great stories that really appeal to fans.

“It was awesome (to be a part of it), like building a piece of a bridge that had been under construction for over 10 years, and my job was to take it and build the next section and then put it back to another storyteller. It was really interesting to me.

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