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Nightmare’s Role: Doctor Strange Writer Addresses Original Script

By Mabel Judith Andrady
May 28,2022

What was Nightmare’s role in the original script? After a surprising delay, Marvel Studios’ Doctor Strange: Into the Multiverse of Madness is now in theaters and making a significant impact on the MCU. A year since its original release date, the sequel presented a multiversal epic that was remarkably separate from what Marvel Studios originally had in mind when it debuted.

It all began with the departure of Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson, who was replaced by Spider-Man trilogy director Sam Raimi for Doctor Strange 2. Next, there was the global pandemic, which forced Marvel to move up the film’s release date and rewrite certain aspects of the story as well as its place in the timeline among its Phase 4 counterparts.

Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch ended up taking a darker path than anyone expected and becoming the main antagonist of Doctor Strange 2. One of the film’s original villains, Nightmare, was originally slated to play a major role after the film’s theatrical release, according to the film’s head writer.

Nightmare’s Original Role

Nightmare was originally supposed to the main antagonist in Doctor Strange 2

Michael Waldron, the head writer of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, spoke with Den of Geek about the film’s original plan to feature Nightmare as its main villain and what his role would be.

While Elizabeth Olsen’s Wanda Maximoff was officially cast at San Diego Comic-Con 2019, Waldron conceded he had retooled the script with director Sam Raimi. Waldron was looking for a more “multiversal adversary” for Strange to face at the time, rather than Nightmare, as the MCU’s future had become more focused on the Multiverse.

“There was different stuff. I think it’s been reported that once upon a time, there was some talk of Nightmare and stuff like that. But when I came on board, it was a Multiverse story. And so it was always about trying to figure out who that multiversal adversary was going to be.”

In February 2020, Waldron was brought on board to take over the story from Scott Derrickson and Jade Bartlett, the film’s previous directors and writers, respectively.

Waldron’s initial plan was to incorporate his ideas into the script that Derrickson and Bartlett had already been working on in order to keep things simple. He and Raimi then had the opportunity to “start over and re-examine what they wanted” to utilize in the ultimate version of the narrative because of the pandemic.

“When I originally came on in February of 2020, Sam and I inherited the story that had been worked on by Scott and Jade Bartlett, the original writer on the project. It had a lot of really cool ideas in it, and we were initially going to just try to figure out our version of that story in time to start shooting the movie in May. Then COVID happened a month later, and the movie was pushed, which afforded us an opportunity to kind of start over and re-examine what we wanted the movie to be.”

Doctor Strange 2 would not be Strange’s first interaction with the Multiverse, as it was released after Spider-Man: No Way Home in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s release order.

“It meant that Stephen would have had some real experience with the Multiverse by now, that he had been on a Multiversal adventure already. This isn’t his first rodeo, so to speak. So that kind of recontextualizes the way you approach all of this. He understands the dangers of it more.”

As Strange worked with Xochitl Gomez’s America Chavez in No Way Home before Multiverse of Madness, he gained a better understanding of how to interact with younger characters. Instead of joining Strange in No Way Home, Chavez ended up joining Spider-Man and the other members of the Spider-Man team in the story.

“He had just been on an adventure with kids before this, and I think that might be the biggest thing affecting how he would interface with America. She wasn’t a totally unknown quantity to him when it came to relating to a teenager.”

The Doctor Strange 2 Pre-Release has undergone major changes

Doctor Strange

Doctor Strange 2, like the other films in Phase 4, was plagued by pandemic delays, necessitating several iterations of the story before it was finally released. All of this culminated in Nightmare being replaced by the alien octopus Gargantos, which was only a ruse until fans discovered Wanda’s place as the lead villain.

With his ability to bring people out of their bodies and torture them in a variety of ways, Nightmare is widely considered one of the most dangerous demons in Marvel. Despite the fact that this could have been a terrifying adversary, Marvel decided against this idea early in the process because more Multiversal plot points were available.

Due to its connection with Spider-Man: No Way Home, the film had already been reworked because it was originally supposed to be the second MCU film to use the Multiverse, rather than the first. When America Chavez’s character was replaced by Ned Leeds, he had to learn his own sorcery skills to bring Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Men into the third act.

As a result of all of these changes and six weeks of reshoots, fans are still flocking to see what Marvel has in store for them on the big screen.

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