The sequel to Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is the result of a wonderfully bizarre marriage between the Marvel Cinematic Universe and director Sam Raimi, which follows its titular character (played by Benedict Cumberbatch) on a wild journey where hes forced to face past actions and decisions and alternate versions of himself from the multiverse. The adventure is like a roller coaster ride through creatures, the Illuminati, a teenage girl with powers she cant control, and a supernatural adversary with
Danny Elfman, who collaborated with Raimi in the first episode of Darkman, talked about his surprise that the filmmaker returned to the Marvel Universe, how the musical composition evolved, and how the musical note battle sparked. He also talked about his recent Coachella performance, and how it evolved from an idea into an incredible career retrospective.
Collider: Youve previously talked about seeing how Spider-Man 2 negatively affected Sam Raimi. While it was such a lovely and surprising gift for us, as the audience, to see Sam return to the superhero genre, and to do so while equating it with the horror that he is so well known for, were you surprised that he even wanted to do this Doctor Strange film?
DANNY ELFMAN: Because he was doing a Marvel movie, I didn''t expect him to. Sure, I was always interested in seeing Sam do a big, crazy, heroic monster movie, or anything else in the Marvel universe. It''s a surprise to learn that he was doing that, but it''s a sign of how Marvel is evolving and expanding. I wouldn''t have imagined, even five years ago, letting a Marvel movie get this weird and crazy.
And it feels like a Sam Raimi movie, which is fantastic.
ELFMAN: It''s a hybrid. It''s very much a Marvel film, and it''s very much a Sam Raimi film. It''s a great surprise that the two had their DNA fused.
What is your relationship with Sam? When you work with a director who you have worked with as many times as you have with him, does the process always feel the same or does it appear that it evolves every time?
ELFMAN: It feels like it progresses, but its still the same Sam, in the end. Hes gonna say, Bring me the heart. It''s the same message that Sam really wants in his scores, from Darkman to Doctor Strange. That''s the same message, from Darkman to Doctor Strange, which is, Bring me the heart.
Because this is a film that kept changing and evolving, how much music would you say you wrote for this, which didn''t even end up in the film?
ELFMAN: There''s a lot of talk. I can''t even begin to guess. If there are two hours of music in the film, I must have written at least three.
The film lasted from being more than two and a half hours to about two hours and five minutes, so did you continue writing new material?
ELFMAN: Yeah, I was back to scenes that I had already written and it was like, Oh, and all of this new stuff in here is. Sometimes it would get rearranged. Sometimes I would just keep the elements that I really loved, and then write into it and out of it. This was really because of the pandemic. It just made me crazy. Otherwise, it would have made me mad. But I was really enjoying the process and enjoying what Sam was allowing me to develop.
When you get to the end of the movie, and you saw the finished version at the premiere, does it feel like a similar film that you thought it would be before you started working on it? How varied did it feel?
ELFMAN: It always feels so different because, with this particular film, I never saw it all put together. It''s like, Oh, wow, this goes right into this and this when you see things on different reels, and then when you see it all individually, you see how it flows. It''s like, yes, this is, too. When you see everything on different reels, you see everything quite apart. It''s like, anyway, it''s like
How did the musical note fight unfold? Ive never seen anything similar before, and I believed it was so fantastic to hear and have the visual for that. What was the significance of it?
ELFMAN: It was a slew of experimenting. When Sam said it to me, honestly, I was skeptical. He said, during their second round of shooting for this scene, and I said, OK, and I started just experimenting with all of these different ideas. First, I had several famous classical music pieces that I had recreated in the eleventh hour. In the end, I redid it in the same sequence, trying to figure out what it would be.
The Coachella set was fantastic, and fans of your music will never forget it. What was the joy of doing something like that, to put it together, to walk out on stage and perform that, and to be able to reflect back on it now? What were you hoping for with that performance, and did it perform differently than you expected?
ELFMAN: Oh my God, yeah. I was unsure what to expect. It was a simple concept piece I introduced two years earlier to Paul Tollett, who plays Coachella. I said, "I am suddenly working on it, but I''m just wondering if this is going to work." Two years later, I saw the message again saying, "It''s great, and I''m glad you''ve heard it!"
I had never experienced more disappointments about anything I had done in my life, the weeks before Coachella, with the disaster that I felt like I would make my own plane crash that was technically impossible. So, when I got there in 2019, I realized that it was just a spontaneous, crazy experiment. I really enjoyed seeing these huge screens. I was so pleased with how big the video screens were.
In the future, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is playing in theaters.
Sign up for Collider''s newsletter for exclusive news, features, streaming recommendations, and more.