The production of the long gestating Ant-Man – Marvel’s next new superhero solo origins film – is seemingly back on track after the unexpected exit of writer and director Edgar Wright. With a new director (Peyton Reed) and script reviser (Adam McKay) in place for an August start date for principal photography, Marvel Studios is already in pre-production to gear up for another new potential Avengers team addition in Doctor Strange.

Marvel Studios president of production Kevin Feige, producer of all of Marvel’s films, has made a point of listing Doctor Strange as a passion project of his for years – one that he was confident in and one that would definitely make its way to the big screen sometime after Ant-Man. Now it’s finally happening. Doctor Strange has a director and a new writer and will begin shooting sooner than you think.

Speaking with Total Film, Feige further confirmed that Scott Derrickson (Sinister) will be helming Doctor Strange and reiterated what he’s told us in the past about the character’s importance to the future growth of the MCU.

“Scott Derrickson has been announced as the director. Doctor Strange is a character that I’ve been interested in for many, many years and that I’ve talked about in interviews for probably 14 years, because I believe it’s very, very important for us to explore every nook and cranny of the comic-book universe and we’ve done the street-level heroes, and we’ve done the billionaire superheroes [on Earth]. We’ve now done the cosmic side with Thor and Avengers and most obviously with Guardians, but there’s a whole other side of the Marvel comics, which is that supernatural side – the interdimensional side of the Marvel universe, and Doctor Strange is, I believe, our entry point into that other realm, which has dozens of characters and storylines all of its own.

So Strange is very, very important, not just because it’s an amazing character study, and a journey of a man who’s gone from this very arrogant surgeon to somebody who is quite zen and literally keeps all of reality together on a daily basis, but it also is going to open up a whole other side of storytelling for our movies. So we’re about to hire a writer to redo a draft, and we think we’ll be casting probably in the next month or two, and announcing an actor, and then we get into production in the spring of next year.”

They’ve already found that writer in Jon Spaihts (Prometheus). Feige told us last year that for Phase 3 they’re going to stick with the formula of two films per year, the first of each pair being a sequel to an established property and the second a new property. This year that meant Captain America sequel before Guardians of the Galaxy; next year it means The Avengers: Age of Ultron before Ant-Man; and in 2016, it means Captain America 3 before Doctor Strange. No surprises there.

The question now is what happens after that in 2017 if there’s one slot for a sequel and one slot for something new? Does ThorHulk or Guardians get a followup in May 2017 before Inhumans, Black Panther or something else entirely in a later 2017 date?

With Strange casting announcements expected in the not too distant future, it’s possible Marvel Studios has already found their Master of Mysticism in one of the three rumored candidates so far: Benedict Cumberbatch, Jared Leto and Tom Hardy. Either way, this is the closest thing you’ll get to confirmation that Doctor Strange is coming July 6, 2016 until it’s made official.

More: The Timing & Magic Behind Marvel’s Doctor Strange Movie

Guardians of the Galaxy opens August 1, 2014The Avengers: Age of Ultron on May 1, 2015, Ant-Man on July 17, 2015, Captain America 3 on May 6 2016, and unannounced films for July 8 2016 and May 5 2017.

Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes for your Marvel movie and TV news!

Source: Total Film

Header edited from art by Kyle Chaney.