It is safe to say Marvel fans are eagerly anticipating the full-blown cinematic return of Bleecker Street’s mystical physician after the success of 2016’s Doctor Strange and his appearances in Thor: Ragnarok, Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. Benedict Cumberbatch has fast become a fan-favorite as the prickly Master of the Mystic Arts, and Marvel Studios mastermind Kevin Feige and his team will surely have more fantastical adventures in store for audiences around the globe.
While there aren’t too many concrete details surrounding the sequel thus far, there is plenty for hungry fans to speculate about. From possible villains to returning cast members, from potential comic story adaptations to rumored star additions, the hype surrounding Doctor Strange 2 is palpable. One thing is for certain: whatever Marvel decides to do with the good doctor, audiences everywhere can expect something… strange.
When is Doctor Strange 2’s release date?
Knowing Doctor Strange 2 has not started production yet does not mean that Marvel has no release date in mind for the project. The Walt Disney Company — entertainment overlords and owners of everything you loved as a child — previously announced nine reserved release dates for “untitled Marvel films” between May 2020 and July 2022. Judging by how successful the first film’s opening weekend was back in November 2016, it would make sense to assume Disney and Marvel would like to try and repeat that kind of box office with another November release.
This leaves November 2020 and November 2021 as likely options, and taking into account the information currently available about Marvel films in production, it would not be a surprise to see the studio announce a November 2020 release date for the mystical sequel some time in the near future. It is possible Disney and Marvel could change these dates around, but it’s hard to slow things down when that big money superhero machine gets turning.
Scott Derrickson is back in the director’s chair
Marvel Studios turned heads back in 2014 when they announced the hiring of Scott Derrickson to direct the then-upcoming Doctor Strange. With the benefit of hindsight, it is safe to say the studio made a solid decision, but the choice seemed to come out of left-field at the time. Before helming the big-budget superhero flick, Derrickson’s career consisted pretty strictly of horror fare. From The Exorcism of Emily Rose to Sinister to Deliver Us From Evil, the director cut his teeth on flashy films intended to frighten moviegoers. The only project foreshadowing Derrickson’s eventual hiring at Marvel was his direction of the 2008 remake of The Day The Earth Stood Still starring Keanu Reeves.
Despite his unassuming track record, Derrickson turned out to be an astute pick, with his eye for striking visuals proving to be an essential asset to the project. Doctor Strange has a look and feel that is unique in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, deftly blending martial arts choreography and surreal digital imagery that would make Inception’s Christopher Nolan blush. In December 2018, Marvel officially brought Derrickson back to helm the Doctor Strange sequel. The future of the series is clearly in solid hands.
What will Doctor Strange 2 be about?
There may not be an official plot synopsis for Doctor Strange 2, but plenty of potential story hints have been dropped by some behind-the-scenes people who are in-the-know. In an April 2016 interview with Double Toasted, Doctor Strange co-writer C. Robert Cargill stated that Marvel felt some of the initial ideas he and Derrickson had for the first film highlighted too much of the “weird stuff” associated with the character. To introduce the hero, they reasoned, the origin story would have to ease audiences into his bizarre world.
However, Marvel did tell the pair to hold on to their more outlandish ideas for potential future films in the franchise. While talking to Den of Geek in 2016, Derrickson referenced Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, saying, “What made The Dark Knight so great was that the origin story of Batman had been well-told, and then it was time to bring in a villain where you really got to go deep. And not just the Joker, also Two-Face. It was a more visceral experience, I’d love to be able to do that for Doctor Strange.”
Which comic stories might provide hints about Doctor Strange 2?
During an interview in 2016 with CBR, Doctor Strange co-writer Jon Spaihts mentioned two big-time Strange-related characters from Marvel Comics: major love interest Clea and supervillain Nightmare. “[Clea is] a really compelling character as a foil, a love interest, a colleague of Doctor Strange’s,” Spaihts explained, “and she always carries with her that width of mystery as to whether she is human, and how human, and what that means for his relationship to her.” While the first film already introduced Rachel McAdams’ Christine Palmer as a love interest for Benedict Cumberbatch’s Stephen Strange, it is not out of the realm of possibility for a comics-based character as popular as Clea to make an appearance in the sequel.
Expanding on the idea of adding Nightmare to the MCU, Derrickson mentioned the arch-villain in an interview with IGN. “I really like the character of Nightmare and the concept that the Nightmare Realm is a dimension…” he explained. “That’s early — that’s like the first Strange tale. I think that’s in the introductory episode of Doctor Strange, and I always loved that.” While Marvel Studios honcho Kevin Feige might be hesitant to showcase another villain focused around unstable realities so soon after Mysterio’s big-screen debut in Spider-Man: Far from Home, bringing a heavy hitter like Nightmare into the fold could be a surefire grand slam.
Benedict Cumberbatch returns as Doctor Strange
Fans of Sherlock and pretty good celebrity impressions will be happy to know Benedict Cumberbatch is slated to return as Dr. Stephen Strange when the sequel enters production. After spending years honing his craft in various stage productions throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s, Cumberbatch began starring in television and film. He would eventually start to gain widespread recognition for smaller roles in films like 2007’s Atonement and 2008’s The Other Boleyn Girl before hitting the big time with the titular role in 2010’s BBC/PBS hit series Sherlock. As the show’s four seasons unfolded over seven years, Cumberbatch would be nominated for numerous awards for the role, winning a Primetime Emmy in 2014.
Before booking the lead in Doctor Strange, Cumberbatch parleyed his newfound success into roles in numerous films such as Star Trek Into Darkness, 12 Years a Slave, and The Imitation Game. In addition to appearing as Stephen Strange three more times since his solo movie’s release, Cumberbatch has found the time to voice the Grinch in the 2018 film of the same name and shoot roles in Oscar-bait films like The Current War and upcoming WWI film 1917. While it is unclear how long Cumberbatch’s MCU contract is, audiences will likely continue appearing in droves as long as the steely-eyed Brit is playing the character.
When Deadline asked the thespian in 2018 about returning for another round of mysticism, his enthusiasm was clear. “Just try and stop me,” he laughed.