ComicBookMovie published a piece earlier today speaking of a proposed Doctor Strange film that didn’t pan out around a decade ago. This theoretical lost project would have been written by acclaimed novelist and comic book writer Neil Gaiman and directed by none other than Guillermo Del Toro. Would such a film have been worth seeing? Undoubtedly. Should we cry to the heavens wishing it had happened back then? No.
“What might have been” movies can sometimes make for fun discussion. What if John Carpenter had been able to remake Creature from the Black Lagoon in the late ’90s? What if New Line Cinema had made Peter Jackson’s A Nightmare On Elm Street VI: The Dream Lover instead of Freddy’s Dead? What if Tim Burton’s Superman Lives had actually been brought to screens a little under 20 years ago? What if George Lucas had secured the rights to Flash Gordon in the early ’70s and had adapted that, instead of ever making Star Wars?
It’s an entertaining rabbit hole to tumble down, but ultimately things usually work out for the best. Not always, of course, but such is life. So how did things work out in this regard? Pretty damn well. With the Hellboy franchise momentarily stalled after the first one under-performed and his other Hollywood projects in limbo at the time, Guillermo Del Toro looked elsewhere to satiate his filmmaking desires. Sure, we lost Doctor Strange, but we gained something better: Pan’s Labyrinth.
Considered to be among his best work, Pan’s Labyrinth is a wonderful fantasy film and a very unique one at that. As much as I love comic books and comic book movies, as well as having a desire to see the Sorcerer Supreme brought to life on the big screen, I wouldn’t trade Pan’s Labyrinth for a GDT take on the subject. I’d much rather have his own original work to view than see his version of the adventures of Dr. Stephen Strange.
This, of course, conjures of thoughts of Edgar Wright’s Ant-Man as well. What might have been? Who knows, at least until his full script leaks someday. Had it happened with him, however, we might have some entirely different scenes to drool over, but we’d have ended up with a very different film. Michael Pena’s wonderful monologues wouldn’t be there, Michael Douglas wouldn’t be reprising his role in the sequel (Hank died in Wright’s version), and we’d have had even less of Hope that we got this summer.
As with Del Toro, things have ultimately worked out for Wright. He has moved on and will now shoot an original film, Baby Driver, early next year. And as with Del Toro, I’d much rather have an original work from the man than an adaptation of someone else’s.
So yes, have some fun fan casting this lost Del Toro/Gaiman project. Imagine what it might have looked like or what the story might have been and smile at the thought of it. Don’t, however, shed tears (be it literally or figuratively) for it, however. The film we received instead is the film we needed and we’re still getting a Doctor Strange film this time next year. Everything worked out as it was meant to.