Marvel Cinematic Universe mastermind Kevin Feige is coming full circle with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, which hits theaters on Friday. He worked with director Sam Raimi as an associate producer on 2002's Spider-Man and is reuniting with him for the Doctor Strange sequel 20 years later.
"It's surreal. I was a young producer who just felt lucky to be in the same room with him," Feige said in an online press conference Sunday. "And I'm now an old producer that just feels lucky to be in the same room with him."
After the first Spidey movie, Raimi went on to helm two sequels in 2004 and 2007. Then he stepped away from superhero movies, just before 2008's Iron Man launched the MCU. Multiverse of Madness is the 28th movie set in that shared universe, and the director acknowledged that the advances of the last two decades have made making superhero movies "a lot easier."
"The technological difference that really enabled me to work on this movie so effectively was Zoom," Raimi said, referring to the videoconferencing app that saw a surge in use during the pandemic. "I could speak to tens of crew members at once. We could show a storyboard from an artist, the editor could bring up a piece of the cut."
Raimi had another asset in actors like Benedict Cumberbatch, Elizabeth Olsen and Benedict Wong, who've played Doctor Strange, Wanda Maximoff and Wong, respectively, for years and are intimately familiar with their characters. This knowledge was vital when playing their characters' multiversal Variants, since parallel realities can intersect after the events of Disney Plus MCU series Loki.
"It's basically a mirror and they meet altered versions of themselves," the director said. "These actors are so good they know they just have to change the slightest aspect of their character's personality to make an interesting conflict with their altered selves. They know their characters better than anybody."
Multiverse of Madness also let Raimi use some of the filmmaking techniques he developed while working on movies like 1981's The Evil Dead, which kick-started his career.
"When Kevin announced that this movie would be… Marvel putting their toe into the world of horror, I was thrilled that he called me to come in," he said. "I was able to take those horror films that I made in my youth and what I had learned from them: building suspense sequences, titillating the audience -- 'Gonna give them the scare now… no. NOW gonna give it to them' -- I was able to apply [that stuff] in the spooky sequences in this film."