On the surface, Doctor Strange 2 was instantly cancelled the minute Benedict Cumberbatch vanished in a puff of dust during Infinity War's shocking closing sequence.
But, as we expected, Doctor Strange made his comeback in Avengers: Endgame to rejoin Wong in defending the universe yet again, and Doctor Strange 2 was confirmed as part of Phase 4 at Comic-Con with a seriously trippy title.
Say hello to Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
We've got our hands on the Scoop Stone to gather together all the latest news on the sequel.
Doctor Strange 2 release date: When will it come out?
The sequel will be the fourth movie of Phase 4 and will hit cinemas on May 7, 2021 in the US. It's not clear if it will have a traditional earlier release in the UK.
Just announced in Hall H at #SDCC, Marvel Studios’ DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS with Benedict Cumberbatch and Elizabeth Olsen. Scott Derrickson returns as director. In theaters May 7, 2021. pic.twitter.com/HtF68htiB1— Marvel Studios (@MarvelStudios) July 21, 2019
Cumberbatch's co-star Benedict Wong had previously said that he believes the movie will start filming in 2020, adding: "I know they've now got a writer on board who I met at the [Avengers] Endgame premiere."
While nothing was confirmed, that sounds about right with the release date coming in 2021.
Doctor Strange 2 cast: Who will be in it?
There's only been one Benedict confirmed for the sequel so far (Cumberbatch, obviously), but we'd be surprised if Benedict Wong weren't back as well.
In the most intriguing announcement at Comic-Con, Elizabeth Olsen will be appearing in the movie as Scarlet Witch, part of the sequel's direct tie-in to the Disney+ show WandaVision.
That's about as far as we know for confirmed cast, but we'd also expect Chiwetel Ejiofor to turn up, even if Mordo isn't the main antagonist of the movie and Rachel McAdams will likely be back as Strange's sort-of love-interest Christine Palmer.
However, rumour has it that she could also have a love rival in the shape of Clea, a female sorceress with a long-running history with Strange in the comic books.
What with the Time Stone's destruction in Endgame, if she were to make her MCU debut in the sequel, she could be the key to restoring the flow of time, or even provide a link between the Quantum Realm and the Dark Dimension.
The Mystic Master will definitely need the help if Dormammu ever shows up again.
Speaking of time, if you time travel back to Infinity War having seen Endgame, writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely have revealed a new layer to the movie, that’s in a scene involving the good Doctor.
They said: "The only way this works is if Tony dies. If you go back and watch Infinity War, when [Strange] says 'one', Benedict... is just choked on emotion. Now that you know the end, go back and watch that moment. He means, 'You're going to have to die, Tony'."
Will Doctor Strange: In The Multiverse Of Madness take a page out of Spider-Man: Far From Home’s comic-book and have Strange dealing with the trauma of losing Stark? On the one glowing hand they didn’t really get on, but on the other, Tony’s death was – sort of – caused by Strange’s actions. Is there any guilt to process there?
But with potential villain Nightmare (more of him in a moment) able to control a parallel dimension that people travel to while they’re dreaming – like some sort of horrible cross between Freddy Krueger and Pennywise – maybe Multiverse Of Madness will feel a bit too much like Mysterio if they work in the same post-trauma themes as Far From Home.
Fans assumed that returning director Scott Derrickson was teasing the arrival of Marvel Comics antihero Namor the Sub-Mariner in the sequel, only to delete the tweet and suggest that everyone got the wrong idea.
"As my header says, my tweets are never teases or hints," he wrote.
That said, since Endgame suggested the Aquaman of the MCU might show up at some point down the line, you never know.
Doctor Strange 2 villain: Will it be Nightmare or Mordo?
This is probably the most significant mystery of Doctor Strange 2. The original movie very much set up Mordo as the main antagonist of any future sequel – but not according to Derrickson.
"I really like the character of Nightmare and the concept that the Nightmare Realm is a dimension," Derrickson said. "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."
Introduced in 1963's Strange Tales #110, Nightmare is the embodiment of nightmares, a being who lives in a parallel dimension which people travel to in their dreams. Could that parallel dimension in the MCU be the Multiverse?
Derrickson also almost included Nightmare in the first Doctor Strange movie before eventually dropping the idea.
"We decided not to do that because that's a bit of a complex idea to try to introduce everything we do introduce, and introduce the idea of nightmares themselves as being a dimension," he continued.
"I hope somewhere down the line we do get to explore that because I think that's a super cool concept."
But there's always a chance the film could involve both. Last year, before the sequel was officially announced, screenwriter C Robert Cargill gave an insight into what we can expect from the villains in the film.
“Me and Scott have not laid the groundwork for it but what I can say is that I have a feeling that whatever Nightmare is involved with, Baron Mordo, being somebody who considers himself the defender of natural law will have something to do with it.”
“For those of you who have ever read the comics, you know that Baron Mordo has a very particular arc, and that’s something we discussed with Chiwetel while working on the first movie. And part of the reason Chiwetel wanted to play Mordo was because he has a definitive ending as a character and it’s such a fascinating ending.”
“And I do know that whether we’re attached or not, that Marvel plans on working towards that ending and fully realizing Mordo as more than just a cardboard-cutout villain, but actually taking him to kind of Loki levels of awesomeness. That’s the goal with him.”
Doctor Strange 2 plot: Where will Strange be?
Well, in the Multiverse of Madness apparently.
Derrickson teased that they're "making the first scary MCU film", with Cumberbatch adding: "This twist in horror will have people gripped… We’ll be going back to trying to destroy him a bit."
But it'll still be PG-13 and contain the humour of the first outing, according to Feige.
The events of WandaVision will lead Scarlet Witch directly to Doctor Strange for his help with something, presumably, but that's all speculation for now.
Doctor Strange 2 trailer: When will we see it?
With the sequel confirmed for 2021, we'll see our first trailer in 2020 – most likely at Comic-Con in July. We imagine it'll contain magic, capes and jokes.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is released on May 7, 2021.
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