Doctor Strange hinged on a somewhat surprise appearance from Strange's arch-enemy, Dormammu, but another iconic villain was almost the film's "big bad." Director Scott Derrickson wanted to use Nightmare, but was talked out of it by Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige.
“Kevin made a very cogent case,” Derrickson told Empire. “The trouble with starting with Nightmare is getting across the idea of the Dream Dimension as another dimension. The movie was challenging enough. It's already an exposition-heavy movie... Dormammu made the most sense. And he is the most present villain in the comics.”
Feige's influence didn't stop there - Derrickson said that Feige is the MCU's "Head Writer."
“Kevin is the 'head writer' when it comes to the integration of the different stories. He once came up to me on set and said, 'So, in Thor: Ragnarok, this is what's going to happen... And then this is going to work into Infinity War,'" Derrickson said. "I remember thinking, this information I'm getting is the most coveted information in the world of entertainment. I thought, I have so much power now! If I tweeted this, I could create a global crisis! Within 24 hours, I had forgotten it all.”
Doctor Strange's MCU influence extended further into the film - but not in the way most would expect. The film's climactic scene was a direct response to the major destruction seen in most Marvel movies.
“It was literally the play on that whole, 'oh, every Marvel movie ends with a city being destroyed during a fight, and then a portal that opens is closed just in time',” Derrickson explained. “I said, ‘well, dammit, we're going to un-destroy a city and we're gonna leave the portal open and Strange is going to go into it and we're going to see what's on the other side. That's how fresh my movie is, dammit!’”
Doctor Strange is in theaters now.