It's not official yet but if you're a fan of Marvel movies looking towards the future, it's a safe bet Doctor Strange is on the schedule as one of the franchise's upcoming new characters to get a standalone film. Marvel Studios President of Production Kevin Feige has frequently namedropped Strange as one of the top properties of interest for him and Marvel Studios, even listing it a year ago as a likely Phase 3 film alongside Ant-Man, before the latter even had a release date.
With directors now being looked at by the studio to helm the project, Doctor Strange is that much closer to becoming a reality in the next few years. Why Strange? Like Thor and Guardians of the Galaxy, the Master of the Mystic Arts opens the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) to new and unexplored territory while also offering a type of film and moviegoing experience that's different than what came before - "different" being the keyword for Feige in all of his conversations about selecting stories and talent.
As the franchise expands and new characters are introduced into the MCU, the roster for The Avengers will evolve and we'll begin to see characters rotating in and out of the core team, partly for story reasons, partly for contractual ones as actors approach the end of their multi-picture deals with Marvel. Strange is one of the more interesting characters from Marvel Comics who we expect to have an essential role on the team in the future.
So, with all signs pointing towards Captain America 3 coming May 2016, as the second Phase 3 film after Ant-Man, when can we expect Doctor Strange? We know from talking with Kevin Feige that the current plan is to continue with two films per year for the foreseeable future, with the first film each year being a sequel to an established property and the second representing something new. With directors already in the running and a year ago, one of Marvel's producers beginning to flesh out the "bones" of a Doctor Strange story, it's a likely candidate to take up Marvel's July 2016 release date.
According to Feige in an interview with HuffPo yesterday however, it could be a year or two later. Will we get Doctor Strange in the next two-three years?
"So, we're in 2014 now... It's time. It's time. I would be surprised if that were the case, yeah. Maybe three or four years, yeah, we'll see. But, I would like it to be the case. Much like Vin Diesel, I like it when something finally happens, and then we can talk about what it is -- versus rumors of what it could be or should be or isn't yet [laughs]."
Where Iron Man is tech-based, Captain America based in the past and now embracing political and espionage themes for its sequel, Thor bringing myth to life through science and Guardians taking us into space later this year, how will Doctor Strange fit the idea of "magic" into the same franchise? Badass Digest spoke with Kevin Feige as well during the junket and asked how the Marvel Cinematic Universe will explore and make magic something relatable and tangible.
"Are you watching the Cosmos series? That’s magic, [the quantum physics]. It’s unbelievable. If somebody knew how to tap into that stuff, what’s the difference between that and magic?"
"You don’t get into it in Harry Potter, but if a scientist went to Hogwarts he’d find out how some of that stuff is happening! We’re not going to spend a lot of time on that, but there will be some of that. And particularly for a character like Strange, who goes from a man of science to a man of faith and who traverses both worlds. And sometimes there won’t be an answer! Sometimes he’ll want an answer - 'How is this happening?!' - and nothing."
He followed up with the interesting comparison, "Doctor Strange needs to be a Ditko/Kubrick/Miyazaki/The Matrix mind-trip," which has us sold. Are you hoping to see Doctor Strange in the mix sooner rather than later, or would you prefer to see someone else, like Black Panther, Ms. Marvel, Nova or the team-based Inhumans get a shot on the big screen first?
Feige could be hinting with his numbers that Doctor Strange is the second 2017 movie but only time will tell. We should be finding out what Phase 3 will look like in the first half of 2014, and at Comic-Con at the latest.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier hits theaters April 4, 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy on August 1, 2014, The Avengers: Age of Ultron on May 1, 2015, Ant-Man on July 17, 2015, and unannounced films for May 6 2016, July 8 2016 and May 5 2017.
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