Phase 2 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is now complete, which means it's time to turn our attention to the much anticipated Phase 3. This next wave of MCU projects kicks off in 2016 with Captain America: Civil War in May and Doctor Strange following that November.
Marvel Studios was at the 2015 D23 Expo to promote both films, and the panel gave the studio its first real opportunity to start raising awareness for Doctor Strange. Though filming is not going to begin until this fall, Marvel showed some intriguing concept art that drew comparisons to films like Inception. And now, those who couldn't be in attendance for the presentation can see the narrative clues laid out by Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige and Doctor Strange himself, Benedict Cumberbatch.
Though the concept art trailer will never be shown again, according to Feige, we can now share a highlight reel of the Doctor Strange portion of the Marvel panel, which included some interesting snippets from the principal players. The film has long been a passion project for Feige (who was developing it before the inception of the MCU), and his admiration for the character was on display when he talked about how the movie can impact the MCU:
"The goal of these films is always to continue to expand what a comic book film is, what a Marvel Cinematic Universe film is. And starting a couple years ago with Guardians of the Galaxy, this year with Ant-Man, next year with Doctor Strange, continuing to push the boundaries of that cinematic universe."
Though all of the Phase 2 installments received generally positive reviews, there was a segment of moviegoers who felt they strayed into the territory of being a bit conventional and weren't exactly game changing. That said, the past few years have seen Marvel change up the approach a bit by trying to blend multiple genres in their cinematic properties. For all intents and purposes, Guardians of the Galaxy was a Star Wars-esque space opera, while Ant-Man was essentially a heist film that happened to feature a guy who communicates with insects. Through that strategy, Marvel has indeed changed what an MCU project can be, giving each one its own unique feel.
Doctor Strange looks to continue that trend. It will introduce audiences to the magical realm in the Marvel world, and it's already been described as the studio's Fantasia in terms of its visual aesthetics and "psychedelic grounding." If fans need further proof that the film was going to be unlike anything they've seen in the MCU before, Cumberbatch's video message to the crowd added further confirmation:
"I'm very excited to be taking on Doctor Strange for Marvel. He's an extraordinary character and brings in a whole other dimension... hmmm... MULTIPLE dimensions to the Marvel universe."
Feige has already gone on record saying that the Quantum Realm that was shown in Ant-Man is very much a hint at the inter-dimensionary travel that's still to come in Phase 3. And with Doctor Strange dealing with things like mysticism and the supernatural, this seems like the perfect project to dive deep into those elements and explore them in a greater capacity. It remains to be seen exactly what the story of the film is, but with teases of physics-defying actions like bending buildings and flying cars, you can bet we'll be witnessing several realities when watching the movie.
Ant-Man is now playing in theaters; Captain America: Civil War opens May 6, 2016, followed by Doctor Strange on November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 on May 5, 2017; Spider-Man reboot on July 28, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok on November 3, 2017; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 on May 4, 2018; Black Panther on July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel on November 2, 2018; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 on May 3, 2019; and Inhumans on July 12, 2019.