Neil Gaiman Reveals His Bonkers Doctor Strange Pitch That Would’ve Been Helmed By Guillermo Del Toro

Author Neil Gaiman once had a vision for a very different Doctor Strange movie back in 2007, and Guillermo Del Toro was in on it.
doctor strange by neil gaiman Marvel

Author Neil Gaiman once had a vision for a very different Doctor Strange movie back in 2007.  It turns out The Sandman and Coraline’s creator met with Kevin Feige in the days before the MCU was anywhere near the juggernaut it is now to discuss a film adaptation of Doctor Strange. 

Speaking to Joshua Horowitz for Happy Sad Confused, Gaiman states:

“Kevin and I have spoken a few times over the years on things. I remember back in 2007, having minimalistic conversations with Kevin Feige about ‘What about Doctor Strange?'”  “Then talking to Guillermo del Toro, and Guillermo and I having these ideas about Doctor Strange and starting the beginning, me starting the beginning of the conversation with Kevin about ‘I could do Doctor Strange with Guillermo.”

Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Gaiman

pinocchio - guillermo del toro

A Doctor Strange movie from the minds of Neil Gaiman and Guillermo Del Toro sounds like an absolute dream.  What exactly was his pitch?:

“The one thing that we really wanted to do was have his adventures, have him become an alcoholic and a disbarred physician, all that sort of stuff, happen in the 1920s,… So the idea is that, he went through all of that and the training to become the world’s greatest magician maybe in the early ’30s, late ’20s, and he’s been living in Greenwich Village for 90 years looking the same in his place, and nobody really notices.  We just sort of liked that idea, and he would have been sort of out of time. But other than that, it would have just been very sort of Steve Ditko, because, you know, that’s the best.”


The early days of the MCU attempted to be relatively grounded on Earth, but with fantasy and sci-fi elements thrown in.  On the advice of Feige, Marvel would make a period piece in the form of Captain America: The First Avenger, with the fantasy element being the Tesseract while the rest of it was structured like a traditional war movie, but none of the phase 1 films ever went to as dark a place as Gaiman is suggesting here. 

2010’s Iron Man 2 attempted to tell a story about Tony Stark’s alcoholism, but that aspect of the plot is largely forgotten after he and Rhodey’s Rock-em-Sock-em Robots fight at his house.  Marvel has since gone into darker themes with films like Black Widow, Eternals, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and even began with Tony Stark’s kidnapping by terrorists in the opening scene of Iron Man, but depicting a character with serious alcoholism, let alone one not well-known to the general public at that stage in the Universe was not on the table.

Basically, they said ‘We just want to concentrate on the core characters right now. Doctor Strange is way up the line, we don’t want to go there

Another reason why this Strange pitch wasn’t picked up was that Marvel put much of its initial focus on films starring more globally-recognized characters, with Iron Man and Thor being the 2 big risks.  Doctor Strange has an ardent fanbase, but if you asked most general audiences who he was back in 2007, they would likely look at you perplexed. 

Then there’s the possibility of Guillermo Del Toro behind the camera.  To this day, Del Toro and his signature style are recognized and largely beloved for matching dark fantasy with heartfelt humanity, a seemingly great fit for a Doctor Strange film.  Del Toro was hot off the success of 2006’s Pan’s Labyrinth, so if he brought even a modicum of the flair from that film over to a Strange project, the results could have blown our minds.  Sadly, it will likely remain one of the great What-Ifs of the MCU, right alongside Patty Jenkins’ Thor: The Dark World

Maybe there’s an alternate universe where Gaiman and Del Toro got to make their version of Strange.  If you’re craving some Gaiman now though, you can catch the adaptation of his Sandman comic currently on Netflix.

What do you think of Neil Gaiman’s pitch for a Doctor Strange movie?  Would you have seen it back in 2007?  Did you enjoy the version we got in 2016 and/or its 2022 sequel?  Let us know in the comments below and on our Twitter.


Source: Happy Sad Confused


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Kevin Thomas

Kevin Thomas is a film-loving college graduate who has been writing film reviews since age 10. He approaches life with a sense of humor and optimism and lives in Georgia with his 2 dogs.