Why Marvel Had to Make ‘Avengers: Endgame’ Before ‘Doctor Strange 2’

No one knows exactly what Marvel’s long-term plan is for Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch). But fans are certainly curious to see what the Sorcerer Supreme will be up to upon his long-awaited second solo film. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness isn’t set for release until 2022, but it’s plain to see why it couldn’t have happened much sooner.

Benedict Cumberbatch and Sophie Hunter at the 'Avengers: Endgame' premiere
Benedict Cumberbatch and Sophie Hunter at the ‘Avengers: Endgame’ premiere | Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

Benedict Cumberbatch’s ‘Doctor Strange’ hit theaters in 2016

Long before Cumberbatch was officially cast, many fans theorized the Sherlock star would be the perfect choice for Doctor Strange. The film’s $678 million worldwide gross, according to Box Office Mojo, is on the lower end of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But Cumberbatch won over fans with his arrogant swagger, wry sense of humor, and yes, his epic facial hair.

Released on Nov. 4, 2016, Doctor Strange introduced mysticism into the MCU. After all, Marvel has slowly expanded the series, bringing scientific, technological, and cosmic elements to life. And with Phase 3 culminating in the two-part Avengers event, the addition of some sorcerers couldn’t have come at a better time. But Doctor Strange has a much larger part to play.

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‘Avengers: Endgame’ served as a necessary step forward for the hero

In his first movie, all Doctor Strange had to do was introduce MCU fans to the Marvel hero. From then on, much of Phase 3 focused on introducing new heroes who would play pivotal roles in the battle against Thanos (Josh Brolin). Spider-Man: Homecoming, Black Panther, and Captain Marvel all gave these fan favorites — and potential future leaders — their due.

However, Doctor Strange ultimately holds the key to how Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame play out. He isn’t the one to deliver that fateful snap against Thanos and his army. But Strange’s possession and manipulation of the Time Stone tip the scale in favor of the Avengers’ victory. Alternate realities and timelines are now in play. And Doctor Strange is primed for whatever comes next.

Marvel has made it clear — whether through the events of WandaVision or persistent rumors about Spider-Man: No Way Home — that Phase 4 is all about the multiverse. Doctor Strange introduces the term “multiverse” to the MCU. And the character’s understanding of the mystic arts is still the clearest path to explore the infinite possibilities that storyline holds.

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What exactly will happen in ‘Doctor Strange 2’?

Because Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness will be so pivotal, Marvel has been playing it coy regarding the movie’s actual premise. According to Digital Spy, the sequel will use Avengers: Endgame as a jumping-off point. But the exact direction the plot will head from there remains uncertain. Here’s what the site reported for the upcoming Doctor Strange sequel.

“After the events of Avengers: Endgame, Dr Stephen Strange continues his research on the Time Stone. But an old friend-turned-enemy puts an end to his plans and causes Strange to unleash unspeakable evil.”

That “friend-turned-enemy” bit hints that Chiwetel Ejiofor’s Mordo might be stirring up some trouble. But then there’s the “unspeakable evil.” Will the multiverse bleed into each other? Or will a certain Scarlet Witch be on a dangerous mission of her own? At this point, it’s anyone’s guess. Marvel’s Doctor Strange sequel is currently set for release on March 25, 2022.