By now, we understand how the Marvel film formula works. Heroes get standalone origin stories. If they work (and so far, all of them have), they get a sequel. Lucky ones end up with a trilogy -- though if you are the Hulk, you get relegated to supporting roles in OTHER people's movies. So, simple math predicts that the MCU will get to Doctor Strange 2 eventually, though this recent report that director Scott Derrickson would be hopping from the Hulu program Locke & Key to Doctor Strange 2.
Not so fast. We were lucky enough to sit down with Marvel President Kevin Feige on Thursday to talk Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and all things MCU, and Feige made it crystal clear that the current slate of Marvel Phase Four films only has two films on it, and Doctor Strange 2 isn't one of them. Feige told our own Eric Eisenberg,:
Truthfully, other than knowing that we're going to work with Sony on another Spider-Man film for that year and that James [Gunn] is committed to continuing with the Guardians at some point, it's all about Phase Three. I don't even know if it will be called Phase Four. Things will be very different after 2019. After May of 2019.
The Doctor Strange 2 news sprung from a Deadline story talking about Locke & Key, where they noted that Scott Derrickson would transition from the pilot episode of the Hulu program (and a few more episodes in that debut season) to the anticipated Strange sequel with Benedict Cumberbatch back in the lead role. Which, on paper, makes sense. Marvel Studios has been working hard to retain filmmakers for their successful franchises, keeping James Gunn on board for a third Guardians of the Galaxy film, and bringing Peyton Reed back from Ant-Man for Ant-Man and the Wasp. But Derrickson isn't a lock, as the Thor franchise proves that Marvel's not opposed to giving new filmmakers a crack at chapters in popular series. There's no hard and fast rule.
Kevin Feige's words are ominous. Clearly, the studio knows what's going to happen with Avengers 4, though they say that everything is going to be different after that, and the next stage of movies might not exist in a Phase at all. It's possible that Marvel will explore ways to have popular heroes show up in crossover and team-up projects, as Benedict Cumberbatch will next be seen AS Stephen Strange in Thor: Ragnarok, so cameos by Marvel actors in mashup movies could replace traditional sequels, meaning Doctor Strange 2 won't happen.
We hope to know the full slate of Marvel movies after Avengers 4, which drops on May 3, 2019. We know that Spider-Man (Tom Holland) will get a sequel in July 2019, but after that, plans are vague. So take the Deadline report with a grain of salt, ponder the quote that Kevin Feige gave us, and settle in for the next wave of Marvel Cinematic Universe reports.