I happened to be recently watching Don Coscarelli‘s “Bubba Ho-tep,” when I occurred to me that since Marvel Studios is working on a Doctor Strange feature (supposedly with John Hamm as the lead) he would be a perfect choice to direct it.
Off the top of my head, there are five reasons that this is the case.
• First, Coscarelli Knows Strange (Pardon The Pun)
This is the director who created the four movies that comprise the Phantasm series, so his genre bonafides are in order. And speaking of those films, only two of them, “Phantasm” and “Phantasm II,” are worth seeing. The others are a bit repetitive and in my view for die-hard fans of the series. That being said, what all the films are is innovative in terms of their special effects and underlying plot.
What they also share in common is that they’re very unusual movies (even when they don’t particularly work, it’s interesting to see where Coscarelli is going with them). Then there’s the fact that they’re all made with shoe-string budgets, yet don’t look like that is the case.
And speaking of show-string budgets, if you look carefully at any of the films in the series, you can tell (based upon the way that the Sphere sometimes travels) that there were instances that someone more than likely just chucked it down a corridor. This could be interpreted as being cheap, but if you keep in mind that they were often working with somewhat minimal resources, you can see how innovative Coscarelli and his effects team sometimes were.
• Humor Matters, And Coscarelli Understands That
In his more recent films, particularly “Bubba Ho-Tep” and the vastly underrated “John Dies At The End” you see that Coscarelli understands the role humor plays in crafting an interesting and fun horror film. This is a principal that is applicable to any type of movie. A well-placed joke can do a lot to alleviate tension, and make an upcoming scare even more effective. Most importantly, you would never mistake either film for a comedy because the humor happens as it does in life, which means it’s of the situational variety, as opposed to slapstick.
• Marvel Is Known For Hiring Directors That Aren’t Always ‘Traditional’ Choices
Joe Johnston directing “Captain America: The First Avenger?” He wasn’t exactly what one would call a typical choice, despite directing–at the time–the vastly underrated “The Rocketeer” in 1991. More recently he directed “The Wolfman,” a flop for Universal that he was called in to complete when original director Mark Romanek left the project due to “creative differences” with the producers of that film. Though that not to imply that he hasn’t done some very successful movies, such as “Honey, I Shrank The Kids,” and “Jumanji.”
Another example of this tendency of Marvel’s involves the upcoming “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.” It’s directed by the Russo Brothers, two directors who prior to this worked exclusively with comedies, such as “Welcome To Collingwood” and “You, Me and Dupree” as well as the NBC series “Community.”
The upcoming Captain America feature may be many things, but a ‘comedy’ isn’t one of them.
And speaking of nontraditional choices: Kenneth Branagh, a director prior known for doing Shakespeare, directed the first Thor film. In hindsight it’s easy to see how Branagh’s background working with Shakespeare added value to what he was doing, but that Kevin Feige was clever enough to see that such an untraditional choice would be good for the film shows that he’s perceptive enough to know that the unconventional choice can sometimes be the best one.
Besides, Hollywood isn’t exactly known for depth, which is why it’s refreshing that Marvel often goes with directors that, in many instances, aren’t known for working with superhero-related material.
• Doctor Strange Should Be Very…Strange
“Doctor Strange” will be Marvel’s first movie establishing the existence of magic. Remember, the Asgardians that exist in Thor aren’t actually gods, but aliens that were worshipped as such by early humans. So ‘Strange’ will be laying the groundwork for all future Marvel movies that involve magic, so it has to be done right. And by “right” I mean this movie should have visuals that are at times reminiscent of an acid trip gone horribly awry; a visual esthetic that looks like what would happen if H.R. Giger and H.P. Lovecraft managed to have children that went into production design and special effects.
To do so, they need a director who is not only known for having a particularly visionary esthetic, but one who can also work with various mediums (CGI, models, prosthetics, stop motion) comfortably, and Coscarelli can.
• Marvels Needs To Take A (Huge) Risk
Every one of their films has been successful from a financial, and generally, critical perspective. The thing is, Doctor Strange needs to–at least visually–be something that we have not seen on screen before (which is especially hard to do considering that most of us are so jaded that we think that we have seen everything that there is to see). “Doctor Strange” also needs to attract a lot of people who have never heard of the character. Earlier I mentioned that it needs to be strange, which I believe; though it can’t be so weird that those that aren’t typical Marvel viewers can’t get into it. This is why I suspect that groundwork for the character with buttons at the end of their Phase Two films, as well as him being mentioned in other movies, so that fans of the comics know that he’s coming, while at the same time you’re laying the groundwork for those that are unfamiliar with him.