EXCLUSIVE: Marvel Studios has hired Conan scribes Thomas Donnelly and Joshua Oppenheimer to write Dr. Strange, marking forward progress on a long-gestating superhero property which will likely be among the first Marvel films generated under the Disney banner. Aside from Conan–the Marcus Nispel-directed Lionsgate film that stars Jason Momoa–Donnelly and Oppenheimer also scripted a live action adaptation of the vidgame Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune for Sony and producer Chuck Roven, and they wrote a draft of the Jon Favreau-directed Cowboys and Aliens for DreamWorks/Universal.
Originated in 1963 by Stan Lee and artist Steve Ditko, Dr. Strange was a self-centered New York surgeon robbed of his touch after a car accident. After a stint as a wandering derelict, he found his way to a healer in the Himalayas, where he learned to tap into psychic powers to battle evil wizards and other wrongdoers. His mind is his weapon, rather than the brute force that distinguish most memorable Marvel heroes.
Dr. Strange has had a long strange journey to the screen that included stints at Savoy Pictures, Columbia Pictures, Dimension Films and Paramount–with a parade of writers and directors that included Bob Gale, Wes Craven, David Goyer, Stephen Norrington and Guillermo del Toro. Marvel finally got the rights and brought the property back into the fold.
Marvel Studios has four more films committed to be distributed through Paramount (including Iron-Man 3). Those will include Thor and The First Avenger: Captain America, with the last to likely be The Avengers. Marvel is separately working on the youth-oriented Runaways as well as Ant-Man, which is also oft-mentioned as a promising character among the 5000 Disney acquired in its $4 billion buy of Marvel. Marvel is making the deal with the writers’ reps at Gersh and Underground and they should get going on Dr. Strange shortly.