Marvel Studios has continued to build out its cinematic universe by exploring the varying corners in which characters could exist. The studio began on Earth with the story of the genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist known as Tony Stark, then brought in Norse gods, later followed by the ragtag group of misfits known as the Guardians of the Galaxy. Multiple other characters and origins have been told throughout the years, and Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is the next Marvel superhero to get their own film, with Doctor Strange.
This is a property that has long been in development, and fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe got their first reference to the Stephen Strange character in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. This reference led some to wonder how long Strange will be training with The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) in his solo film. Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson has now revealed how his film fits into the MCU timeline, as well as the impact of the Illuminati and his interest in returning for a sequel.
Derrickson is making the rounds across the pond to promote Doctor Strange and spoke to Yahoo UK as part of this process. During the course of the interview, he was asked about how the movie fits into the larger timeline of the MCU. According to the director himself, it appears that the movie could be told over the course of a few years, after his namedrop in Winter Soldier, but it will eventually catch up to present day:
The ‘Winter Soldier’ reference [to Stephen Strange] was just recognizing his incredible aptitude. He’s got a photographic memory, which is an incredibly rare thing, but he’s not a sorcerer at that point, so the movie you’re watching [‘Doctor Strange’] leads up, and by the time you’ve gone through his journey and you’re into the second half of the movie, it’s present day.
This is not necessarily business-as-usual for Marvel, as the studio typically releases the MCU films in strictly chronological order. However, given Strange needs to train for quite some time to become a master of the mystic arts, an extended timeline for this film is not entirely surprising. Once he is a fully fledged superhero, Strange’s adventures will continue into Avengers: Infinity War.
Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige has hinted at the possibility of the Illuminati forming in the MCU’s future, and this is something Derrickson would like to see too:
I think I’d like to see that. I think that that part of him and his future development becomes very interesting in the comics, but that all falls under the guidelines of Kevin Feige, he’s the Sorcerer Supreme when it comes to the chess board of how these movies fit together.
Derrickson is also hoping to get the chance to continue building up the Doctor Strange villains in the future. Before he gets too serious about a sequel though, Derrickson says he’s waiting to see how the Sorcerer Supreme’s first movie performs:
I’d be very interested in making [Doctor Strange 2] but we gotta see how this movie does first, you know? Can’t put the cart before the horse. I hope it does well and I hope there’s going to be a ‘Doctor Strange 2’, I certainly want to see that.
Doctor Strange is clearly going to be a major player in the MCU moving forward – so, there will be plenty of chances to see him again, even if Doctor Strange 2 fails to materialize. If the latter happens though, Derrickson returning seems to be a real possibility. Both early reactions and critical responses to Doctor Strange been mostly positive – something that ought to help the film to reach or surpass current box office expectations and give Doctor Strange 2 a better shot at being made.