In 2016, Marvel Studios delivered one of its most powerful one-two punches ever with the back-to-back releases of Captain America: Civil War and Doctor Strange. While the former marks the beginning of a fractured new era for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), the latter brings magic (and the penultimate Infinity Stone) to the table in an effort to help the franchise continually evolve. Scott Derrickson’s film has only recently hit theaters, but it is already on track to become the highest-grossing solo origin story in the MCU since Iron Man. Between Benedict Cumberbatch’s charismatic lead performance to the dazzling visuals, the film in many ways doesn’t even feel like it belongs in the same space as The Avengers.
Yet, though its focus and aesthetic diversifies the style and possibilities of the MCU, Doctor Strange hints at what may lie ahead for the films. Aside from a passing reference to Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and a mid-credits cameo from one of the team’s principal members, the film relies on more subtle methods to lay the groundwork for the future of Phase Three. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most notable Easter eggs you probably missed in the film.
1. Captain Marvel’s origin?
One of the most requested additions to the MCU has been Captain Marvel. Now that the film is on track for a 2019 release with Oscar winner Brie Larson (Room) onboard to star, fans are eagerly awaiting her arrival in the franchise. As it turns out, Doctor Strange may have already marked the first mention of Carol Danvers.
Just moments before his fateful car accident, Strange briefly considers treating a 20-something young woman who was struck by lightning. This scenario has led some fans to believe that Danvers is the patient in question, though Derrickson is playing coy about the potential reveal.
2. Avengers Tower
Check out the New York skyline in Doctor Strange, and you’ll see Avengers Tower standing proudly. However, the building’s presence in the final battle of the film (presumably years after Strange’s accident) might indicate that Strange’s debut feature actually concludes before Avengers: Age of Ultron, since by that point the team moved to a new headquarters as seen in subsequent films. Of course, it’s wholly possible that Avengers Tower is still standing and is simply in use as an ancillary base. Yet, the possibility that Strange may have had a few years to hone his skill between his own film and his subsequent appearance in Avengers: Infinity War is a fun one to ponder.
3. An Iron Man connection?
Just as Strange’s pre-accident phone call may hint at Captain Marvel, another case he learns about — in which a Marine colonel has been stricken with a spinal injury after using experimental armor — sounds a lot like it could be referring to James “Rhodey” Rhodes (Don Cheadle) aka War Machine, who suffers a similar injury late in Captain America: Civil War. Unfortunately, the timeline of Doctor Strange likely doesn’t match up with that film, leading some to speculate if it actually refers to Justin Hammer’s (Sam Rockwell) experiments with armored suits in Iron Man 2. At this point, we’ll have to wait and see if future releases clarify this.
4. Meet Master Hamir
During one of his first scenes with the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), Strange complains that he cannot possibly perform magic because of the damage to his hands. The Ancient One then calls upon the one-handed Master Hamir to prove just how short-sighted Strange’s excuse is. The seemingly throwaway character is actually a fixture in the comics, though he has both of his hands in the source material. Ultimately, Hamir has been revealed to be the father of Wong (Benedict Wong), though this fact may not ever come to light in the MCU. Time will tell though, and mirroring this reveal in the films would certainly further develop Wong as an integral supporting character going forward.
5. Setting up for Runaways
A TV series based on Marvel’s Runaways — the comic centered on a superhero team comprised of the runaway children of supervillains — has long been in development, but Doctor Strange offers what may be the strongest indicator yet that an adaptation may be heading to the MCU soon. A key character from the comics, Tina Minoru (Linda Louise Duan) briefly appears as a master being trained by the Ancient One. Fans of Runaways may have reason to be excited, if this cameo amounts to anything.
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