The Neil Gaiman / Guillermo del Toro Doctor Strange movie that kind-of, not-really almost was

Neil Gaiman took to BlueSky to clarify a Wikipedia entry saying that in 2007 Guillermo del Toro was "attached" to direct a movie about the Marvel superhero Doctor Strange, from a screenplay by Gaiman. The entry says, "The film was eventually canceled due to low studio interest.

This would have occurred before Iron Man jump started the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2008. This fascinates me because Doctor Strange would have been the perfect vehicle for these two geniuses to collaborate on: a superhero with a dark past, in the world of the occult.

But the idea never went beyond the conversation stage. Gaiman wrote on BlueSky about the Wikipedia entry:

"That article is a very strange way of saying that Marvel asked me about Dr Strange, and I loved the idea of writing one and that [Guillermo del Toro] wanted to do it with me (and had an amazing idea for how) and then Marvel said no, they weren't ready for Dr Strange yet.

"It wasn't 'cancelled' and no screenplay was ever written. It wasn't even pitched. Just a couple of conversations were had.

A Collider article last year explained that in 2007, Gaiman had a "minimalistic conversation" with Marvel Studio executive Kevin Feige.

Gaiman said that the studio told him they "just want to concentrate on the core characters right now. Doctor Strange is way up the line. We don't want to go there."

Gaiman's description of his take on Doctor Strange is tantalizing:

"So the idea is that he went through all of that and the training to become the world's greatest magician maybe in the early '30s, late '20s, and he's been living in Greenwich Village for 90 years looking the same in his place, and nobody really notices. We just sort of liked that idea, and he would have been sort of out of time. But other than that, it would have just been very sort of [original Doctor Strange artist and co-creator] Steve Ditko because, you know, that's the best."

Gaiman, with typical graciousness, referred to the first Doctor Strange movie that Marvel did eventually produce, in 2016, and noted: "The way they did it commercially was better."

I yield to all of Gaiman's artistic opinions, but I disagree with him there.