Despite having been absent from the superhero genre for well over a decade, until this year that is, Sam Raimi is among the most famous names behind the camera in the genre. Many modern Marvel fans grew up with Tobey Maguire's Spider-Man trilogy, which Raimi directed, and to this day, it currently stands as a legacy figure among Marvel's greatest flicks.
The filmmaker kickstarted his superhero career with 2002's Spider-Man and began a hiatus after 2007's Spider-Man 3, following Sony's interference in both the third installment and Raimi's plans for the franchise's future. Fifteen years later, Raimi makes his return to Marvel with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness in the MCU, having replaced Scott Derrickson in the directing chair amid creative differences.
Since his Spider-Man trilogy came to an end, countless superhero movies have been released, and with them have undoubtedly come many directing opportunities for Raimi. But now, the director has revealed why he took a break from the genre after his original trilogy.
Spider-Man Director on Superhero Burnout & Rejuvenation
During a recent interview with AMC Theaters, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness director Sam Raimi revealed the "superhero overdose" he felt after directing Tobey Maguire's Spider-Man trilogy in the early 2000s.
But first, Raimi shared his love for Doctor Strange and described how he "actually never imagined" the character would get a solo film because he was "a second or third-tier character for Marvel:"
“He was like a second or third-tier character for Marvel. Obviously, their big popular names were Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, The Avengers, Captain America, Thor. And because none of those other movies were being made, I actually never imagined they would make a Doctor Strange movie. Just seemed far from possible.”
The director went on to reveal he "[hasn't] seen all the [Marvel] movies" because of the "superhero overdose" he had after directing his original Spider-Man trilogy. But explained why Iron Man and The Avengers still caught his attention:
“I haven’t seen all the movies, all the Marvel movies because after making three of the Spider-Man movies, I had a little superhero overdose and I had to get away from them for a bit; but I saw Iron Man. I was blown away with the characters and the great direction. And then I saw the first Avengers movie and I thought they really are finally bringing Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s great visions to the screen.”
Raimi later described how he ended up with the directing gig for Multiverse of Madness, explaining that he heard "Marvel was in a jam" after losing Scott Derrickson and that he's a fan of a job with "challenges:"
“I heard that Marvel was in a jam and they, their director had fallen out, Scott Derrickson, due to creative differences and they had to shoot right away and the script needed work. And that’s the kind of job I like, with challenges. I thought it would be really interesting. So I wondered how making movies of that size had changed since I last embarked on one in 2013.”
Sam Raimi Just Missed the MCU Train
DC and Marvel will be releasing seven movies combined this year, and that's not even factoring in the many TV series across a variety of networks and streaming services. The superhero genre once saw three to four movies a year at most, with TV spin-offs being rare, but with this grand incline in recent years, is Hollywood risking superhero fatigue?
The years Sam Raimi is referring to in his comments were the beginning of the modern superhero era. Early franchises like Spider-Man, X-Men, Blade, and The Dark Knight trilogy brought Marvel and DC heroes to the forefront of entertainment, and they have remained there ever since.
Of course, the legendary director concluded his first go-around in the Marvel universe with 2007's Spider-Man 3, just a year before Iron Man opened up the MCU and took things to another level. So, if Raimi was already feeling burnt out back then, he certainly got out at the right time since things have only gotten crazier since.
But, Sam Raimi is now back in the Marvel universe of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, a perfect fit for him given his horror origins and love of the character. From what he described, it appears Scott Derrickson's directing departure left Marvel Studios in a tough place, with a need to begin shooting and an unfinished script, something Raimi looks to have saved them from.
Doctor Strange 2 is right around the corner, and it will be intriguing to see how Raimi handles making a modern superhero film, given the evolution the genre and movie-making technology have seen since he was last involved.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness hits theaters on May 6.