Before Marvel Studios laid out a crowd-pleasing series of confirmations and announcements during the Iron Man 3 Comic-Con panel in July, rumors ran rampant about the already-confirmed “Phase Two” films. Iron Man 3 was already in production, Thor 2 was getting ready to shoot at the end of summer and Captain America 2 had just gotten its official spring 2014 release date.

We dissected the information making the rounds on potential returning characters and plot points for Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Iron Man 3, but for Thor: The Dark World – seemingly the most mysterious and complex of the three – the rumors and speculation were too convoluted and scattered to make sense of until we learned more, and learned more we might have.

At the time when Mads Mikkelsen was still in the running to play the villain of the Thor sequel, The Playlist podcast discussed a variety of Marvel Studios rumors – from Edgar Wright shooting the post-credits scene for Iron Man 3 to introduce Ant-Man, to returning characters for the Captain America sequel. For Thor: The Dark World, many of the rumors failed to materialize, but some of them are starting to get a little more credence as of late.

Mikkelson couldn’t take the villain gig – which many thought would be the character of The Executioner – due to his obligations on the Hannibal TV series. Replacing him is Christopher Eccleston, and that role, as we learned, is for Malekith the Accursed instead. Rumors also had Kat Dennings not returning, but it’s since been confirmed that she is. That’s two inaccuracies which made us skeptical.

Keeping in mind that the title of the film (The Dark World) had yet to be revealed, and the rumors above weren’t accurate, we held off on the biggest rumor of them all: that the Thor sequel would introduce and star Doctor Stephen StrangeThe Playlist claimed that Natalie Portman’s character Jane Foster could be working alongside Dr. Strange in a similar capacity as she did with Stellan Skarsgård’s Dr. Erik Selvig in the first film, and that Strange would be playing a big part in “all three acts” of the film, as opposed to being relegated to a cameo-type introduction. He would play a scientist (he’s a genius neurosurgeon in the comics) and someone who’s deeply interested in Foster’s stories and knowledge about Asgard and Thor.

Marvel Studios understandably would want an A-list actor for the part, considering there’s a strong possibility that Strange could get his own solo film in a few years, and introducing him now (in a big way) works wonders for the future of the franchise. Not only does it help boost the appeal of Thor: The Dark World to match post-Avengers expectations – much like Iron Man 3 added Ben Kingsley and Guy Pearce to its roster (along with more budget) – but it lays a strong foundation to establish the Dr. Strange character as a mainstay for the Marvel cinematic universe.

NEXT PAGE: An Actor Who Might Play Doctor Strange…

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The Playlist heard at the time that Marvel Studios’ highly desired choice, however unlikely to come to fruition, was for Joel Edgerton to play Strange. Locking down Edgerton now – an actor on his way up in terms of stardom, with high profile roles in Warrior and The Thing lats year and Zero Dark Thirty and The Great Gatsby on the way – would be a smart move by the studio. It would also be similar to how they got Jeremy Renner in talks for Hawkeye before he stepped up into major roles in the Bourne and Mission: Impossible franchises.

The problem is that Edgerton has too many commitments for his other films this year and so who could replace him? How about Viggo Mortensen?

We’re delving deep into take-it-with-a-grain-of-salt rumor territory with this one, but a Twitter account by the name of Roger Wardell has been sharing Marvel Studios info for months, and if we look at the time stamps we can see that he knew that Falcon was going to be in Captian America 2 before THR shared their “exclusive” on the same news. This same account teased that Dr. Strange will be in Thor: The Dark World not long ago (something The Playlist said as well), and three days prior, Wardell also claimed that Viggo Mortensen was in negotiations with Marvel Studios for a role in “Phase Two.”

Connecting the dots, is this too good (or crazy) to be true? Let’s look at what we do know:

  1. Marvel President of Production Kevin Feige said he’s confident in a Dr. Strange movie at the same time he said he was confident in Guardians of the Galaxy, and we all know what happened with that.
  2. Marvel Studios has a completed draft of a Dr. Strange movie script by Thomas Dean Donnelly and Joshua Oppenheimer that was reportedly sent out to directors over a year ago.
  3. Mortensen was a top choice for the lead role in Snow White and the Huntsman and the impossible-to-get-into-production The Dark Tower, so he’s not averse to returning to blockbuster franchise roles.

And we cannot forget that it was the first Thor movie that dropped the first Dr. Strange easter eggs by including the Orb of Agamotto artifact in Odin’s Vault alongside the Eternal Flame (see: Surtur) and the Infinity Gauntlet. The Agamatto objects are the source of Strange’s supernatural powers, and according to The Playlist’s information, one of those objects could come crashing down on earth – thus explaining Strange’s cinematic origins.

Don’t be surprised if Doctor Strange is at least introduced in Phase Two of the Marvel cinematic universe, or if Dr. Strange joins The Avengers 2 as a 2015 release. Viggo Mortensen on the other hand… well, that’s a stretch and we’ll have to keep an eye on the situation. It’s also possible that if Viggo is in fact, in discussions with Marvel it could be for a lead role in one of the other in-development films, perhaps as a Guardian of the Galaxy member or a villain of Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

The Thor sequel is being directed by Alan Taylor (Game of Thrones) and stars Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins, Idris Elba, Stellan Skarsgård, Zachary Levi, Ray Stevenson, Jaimie Alexander, Tadanobu Asano and Christopher Eccleston.

Iron Man 3 releases May 3, 2013, Thor: The Dark World on November 8, 2013, Captain America: The Winter Soldier on April 4, 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy on August 1, 2014 and The Avengers 2 on May 1, 2015.

Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes.

Sources: The Playlist, Roger Wardell (hat tip Steve)

Header image edited from Dr. Strange art by YamaO.

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