Following the release of Doctor Strange, Derrickson immediately had ideas brewing for a potential sequel, as the director signed on to return back in 2018. But unfortunately, he stepped down in 2020 due creative differences and was replaced by the visionary Sam Raimi (Evil Dead franchise, Tobey Maguire Spider-Man trilogy) and acclaimed writer Michael Waldron (Rick and Morty, Loki).
Now with Doctor Strange 2 roughly a month and a half away from its big theatrical release, Feige commented on Derrickson's departure, explaining more of what really was discussed with the filmmaker. "It came down to Scott, and Scott's like, 'Well, I can make this movie that I'm compromising what I wanted to do on, or I could make The Black Phone,' and he goes, 'You know, I want to make a movie with Cargill. I'm gonna go make The Black Phone,'" Feige said in an interview with Empire Magazine for its May 2022 issue (via Slash Film). "It was, as he said publically, it was a hard choice to leave Strange behind; but it made it easier that he had a movie that he was looking forward to. And then the experience was just so great that we're just so proud and happy with what we made."
It makes sense for Derrickson (and any filmmaker, really) to pursue another project rather than direct a film that did not grant him total creative control. On top of that, Derrickson will also be reuniting with C. Robert Cargill and Ethan Hawke on The Black Phone, two talents Derrickson collaborated with on past horror projects like The Exorcism of Emily Rose or Sinister. And judging from early reactions, it appears Derrickson made the right move to follow his gut, as The Black Phone is shaping up to be a critical success.
While it would've been interesting to see what Derrickson would've cooked up, Doctor Strange 2 looks to be one of the MCU's most bonkers and expansive projects to date. Following the events of Spider-Man: No Way Home and Loki, the film will follow Benedict Cumberbatch's Doctor Strange through alternate realities of the multiverse, as the sorcerer is forced to make new allies in order to defeat new enemies such as the villainous Strange Supreme and other versions of himself. Disney CEO Bob Chapek is already praising the film for pushing the boundaries of storytelling.
With its deeper exploration of the multiverse, heroes from other universes (like Fox's X-Men and Fantastic Four groups) are rumored to have a cameo in the film, but fans will not know for sure until the film's release. Joining Cumberbatch is Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch, Xochitl Gomez as America Chavez, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Baron Mordo, Benedict Wong as Wong, and Rachel McAdams as Christine Palmer.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness will arrive in theaters on May 6, 2022.