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'Doctor Strange' Heating Up as Marvel Vets Directors (Exclusive)

UPDATED: Among the filmmakers being eyed are Mark Andrews, Jonathan Levine, Nikolaj Arcel and Dean Israelite. "Sinister" director Scott Derrickson is also on the list.

Dr. Strange 110 Strange Tales 1963 - P 2014
1963's 'Strange Tales' No. 110

With Ant-Man in preproduction mode with casting well underway and the marketing rollout for Guardian of the Galaxy off to a rip-roaring start, Marvel Studios is tackling its next challenge: conjuring up the filmmaker for Doctor Strange.

Four contenders in particular have either met or are about to meet with Marvel higher-ups to bring the adventures of Marvel's Sorcerer Supreme to the screen: Mark Andrews, who co-wrote and co-directed Pixar's BraveNikolaj Arcel, who wrote and directed last year's best foreign film Oscar-nominated entry A Royal Affair; Dean Israelite, the helmer behind Paramount's upcoming sci-fi time-travel movie Welcome to Yesterday; and Jonathan Levine, the filmmaker behind Warm Bodies and 50/50.

Update: Scott Derrickson, who helmed Sinister and The Exorcism of Emily Rose, is also on the list.

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Jon Aibel and Glenn Berger, the writers behind the Kung Fu Panda movies, are also in the mix, not to direct the movie but to pen the screenplay.

Marvel is looking to hire both a writer and a filmmaker to work in tandem, or a filmmaker who can do both tasks as it focuses on the hero first created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko in the pages of 1963's Strange Tales No. 110.

Doctor Strange was conceived as an arrogant and selfish surgeon whose hands are damaged in a car accident. After all conventional healing methods fail, he travels to Tibet as a last-ditch effort to find a cure at the hands of a man known as the Ancient One. In an act of benevolence, Strange saves the man from the Ancient One's power-hungry disciple Baron Mordo, thus becoming the magical art's new hero.

The hero's screen appearances so far have been limited to cartoons, but he did get his own TV movie/pilot in 1978.

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Marvel Studios has been working on and off on this project for several years and previously was working from an origin story draft by Joshua Oppenheimer and Thomas Dean Donnelly.

One of the challenges facing the company is making the supernatural elements mesh in a convincing way with the hi-tech and grounded elements established in movies such as Iron Man and The Avengers.

Also needing a steady hand is incorporating Strange's more outre elements, including his colorful costume and accoutrements, such as his amulet Eye of Agamotto.