As the Marvel Cinematic Universe enters its fourth stage, following the enormously successful Avengers: Endgame, producer Scott Derrickson (Sinister, The Exorcism of Emily Rose) has signed on for the next Doctor Strange film, implying that the Benedict Cumberbatch vehicle may have a more horror-centric tone. That is, until Kevin Feige, Marvel Studios President and de facto director of the MCU, clarified that one shouldn’t jump to calling Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness a horror film.
In a presentation at the New York Film Academy, Feige did reiterate what Derrickson said about a “scary Marvel movie,” but said that he “wouldn’t necessarily say it’s a horror film… but it’ll be a big MCU film with scary sequences in it.” Perhaps fans were a bit too eager when making that jump in logic, but with the recent successes of R-rated comic book films like Deadpool and Joker, can those fans really be blamed for getting excited about a Marvel superhero horror?
Feige went on to talk about Steven Spielberg, and his works such as Gremlins and Poltergeist, which Feige argues “are the movies that invented the PG-13 rating, by the way.” This could lead to the next Doctor Strange picture to push that PG-13 rating as far as possible, without stepping into the Restricted territory. Or will it?
Does the film even really have to push this boundary in the first place? At San Diego Comic Con, Derrickson himself said that what brought him to the Doctor Strange franchise to begin with was “how they dipped into the gothic and the horror and the horrific.” So at the very least, there will be some darker elements in the film, regardless of how prominent they will be, and whatever said prominence does to the film’s eventual MPAA rating.
In any case, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness isn’t due out until the summer of 2021, and while Scott Derrickson has promised he’ll be returning to his horror roots following it, we have a ways to go before the producer/director’s true colors will come back in full effect.