Stan Lee once wrote a script for a Doctor Strange movie and a page from his script his now available online. This comes from screenwriter C. Robert Cargill, who penned the version of the movie that actually got made in 2016. As part of a tribute to Lee following his passing, Cargill shared a page from the script, in addition to a story about the long development process that went into bringing Stephen Strange to the big screen.
A very low-budget movie was made about the Sorcerer Supreme in 1978, but Marvel, a few years later, decided that they wanted to try and do something a little more high-profile. They brought in several writers to take a stab at the script and one of those guys was none other than the characters co-creator, Stan Lee, who birthed Doctor Strange with the late Steve Ditko. C. Robert Cargill explained the long process to get the movie made on Twitter. Here's what he had to say.
"Marvel developed a Doctor Strange film in the 80s with writers like Lawrence Block, Bob Gale, and Larry Cohen all taking a stab at it. Stan rewrote a few drafts himself. I had to read every single draft for arbitration. Unsurprisingly, Stan's was my favorite. When Marvel hit financial troubles in the late 80s they sold off option rights for their characters, including Strange. Charles Band bought the Strange option, developed the film, then failed to make it in time, losing the rights. So he cut out all the specifics & retitled it. Because a Strange movie was never made and Disney bought Marvel, and the rights reverted to Marvel, that meant the development process was officially 33 years long, and everyone had to be included in a second arbitration. (No one realized the problem the first time around.) Who was the first writer to turn down credit and claim that the script was definitely ours? Stan. Excelsior, indeed."
With Marvel Studios making a big-budget Doctor Strange movie, it makes sense that any writer involved over the years would want a credit if they could somehow earn one. But Stan Lee stepped aside quickly and let director Scott Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill move ahead. Ultimately, that worked out quite well, as fans really took to the movie and, specifically, Benedict Cumberbatch as Stephen Strange.
At the very end of the thread, Cargill shared a page from Stan Lee's screenplay from 1986. To anyone who has ever read a Doctor Strange comic written by Lee, it will sound very familiar. The scene features a conversation between Strange and The Ancient One, in which, the wise old sorcerer reveals the existence of Dormammu, who also wound up being the major threat in the 2016 movie, to the surgeon-turned-sorcerer.
It certainly would have tonally been a very different movie, but it feels like Stan Lee and serves as a very nice tribute to the Marvel legend following his death earlier this week. Now, if we could just see that whole script turned into a graphic novel or something, that would be even better. Looking at you, Marvel Comics. Be sure to check out the script page from C. Robert Cargill's Twitter below.