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‘Doctor Strange’ director reveals the villain he originally wanted for the movie

Any fan of Marvel’s supreme sorcerer, Doctor Strange, knows that the surgeon-turned-superhero has an exceptionally bizarre rogues gallery, populated by all manner of enemies from his own dimension and beyond (far, far beyond, in some cases). The new live-action Doctor Strange movie introduced quite a few of the title character’s most infamous foes, but in a recent interview, director Scott Derrickson revealed that his original plans for the film featured a significantly different villain facing off against Stephen Strange.

Before Hannibal star Mads Mikkelsen took on the role of misguided magic-wielder Kaecilius, the film’s original villain was apparently, well … a real nightmare.

More: We spoke with the science consultant behind Doctor Strange’s mind-bending multiverse

In an interview with Empire, Derrickson explained that the initial plan was to have Doctor Strange battle Nightmare, one of the first otherworldly villains the character faced in his comic-book adventures. The ruler of a surreal environment known as “The Dream Dimension,” Nightmare was eventually replaced by the combination of Kaecilius and — because no Doctor Strange story is complete without a fantastic villain — the dimension-conquering entity known as Dormammu.

According to Derrickson, it was Marvel Studios President (and the architect of the studio’s cinematic universe) Kevin Feige who talked Derrickson out of using Nightmare.

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“Kevin made a very cogent case,” recalled Derrickson. “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.”

Of course, that doesn’t mean Nightmare is out of the mix for the sequels — but with at least three notable villains introduced in Doctor Strange, there’s a cornucopia of evil options available for whoever crafts the next adventure for Stephen Strange. Given how surreal things got in Doctor Strange, it’s not out of the realm of possibilities that we’ll see Nightmare — and the Dream Dimension — introduced down the road as Marvel’s cinematic universe expands farther into the occult and supernatural areas of its comic-book universe.