Most of Dan Harmon’s ‘Doctor Strange’ Jokes Didn’t Make It in the Final Cut
Sometimes humor doesn’t come from jokes, but perspective. And when you’re making one superhero movie after another in the same cinematic universe, it can be helpful to get an outsider’s two cents. That’s what Marvel did when they brought on Community creator Dan Harmon to help with some last-minute script work on Doctor Strange. Now the film’s director Scott Derrickson has revealed what exactly Harmon’s contributions were.
As it turns out, the majority of Harmon’s jokes didn’t make it into the final cut. While speaking with Moviefone about the film’s upcoming home video release, Derriskson said the Rick and Morty co-creator’s jokes had a little too much of his own sense of humor to work within the Marvel universe. “There are some jokes that might have stayed in there,” Derrickson said, “but for the most part, the scenes were a little too out in Dan Harmon-land, even for Doctor Strange.” But even if Harmon’s jokes were a bit too weird for the movie, it was his outsider perspective, and lack of familiarity with the original comic, that helped enhance the film’s humor. Derrickson went on to describe how Harmon was “the voice [he and Marvel] needed to hear” at the time:
Because he hadn’t read any of the scripts and didn’t know the Doctor Strange mythology and I’m not sure how much of a comic book fan he was. But he saw the movie, loved it, and had some breakdown things that were very helpful. That alone was probably his biggest contribution.
Last year Marvel president Kevin Feige had similar comments around Harmon’s contributions, but specifically targeted to the movie’s sci-fi elements. “We just wanted him to watch the movie, and talk to us about it, and give us his opinions on the sci-fi concepts,” Feige said, citing how much he trusted Harmon’s opinion because of the sci-fi concepts behind his Rick and Morty.
It’s exciting and refreshing to know Marvel is willing to seek outside opinions and perspectives on their properties to make them as entertaining and individualized as possible, but did it work out for Doctor Strange? As much as you can recognize the small flourishes of humor in the movie, they aren’t exactly funny. As our own Matt Singer wrote in his review, the film’s “attempts at comedy generally fall very flat. That includes Dr. Strange’s wacky sentient cape, which likes to pull him around or bonk his enemies on the head.” Why bring on a funny guy to perk up your script if you’re going to cut his jokes anyway?
It’s hard to know if the the film could’ve benefitted from keeping Harmon’s quirky sense of humor since we don’t know what his scenes actually were. But even if they were a failure, including them would’ve been a bold experiment worth trying. Doctor Strange hits Blu-ray and DVD on February 28.