Marvel’s Sorcerer Supreme, Doctor Strange, will cast his spell on moviegoers once again. In Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Benedict Cumberbatch will again don the Cloak of Levitation for a new adventure that will take the Master of the Mystic Arts to the weirdest corners of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) — and, quite possibly, beyond.
Although Cumberbatch will be back for the sequel, there will be a new face behind the camera after the unexpected departure of director Scott Derrickson. Speculation currently points to Spider-Man director Sam Raimi filling that role. With the film scheduled to hit theaters in March 2022, here’s everything that we know about Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness so far.
New release date
As the coronavirus pandemic delayed major film releases and put many productions on hold, Variety reported in March that Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness was “still on track to begin filming in June.”
However, as Disney was forced to move several films, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness was bumped from its May 7, 2021, release date. Now, it will come out March 25, 2022, following the release of Black Widow, The Eternals, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, the third Spider-Man solo movie, and Thor: Love and Thunder.
To the surprise of, well, just about everyone, filmmaker Scott Derrickson let it be known on January 9 that he would not be directing Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. The announcement was made via Twitter, with Derrickson citing “creative differences” with the studio.
Marvel and I have mutually agreed to part ways on Doctor Strange: In the Multiverse of Madness due to creative differences. I am thankful for our collaboration and will remain on as EP.
— N O S ⋊ Ɔ I ᴚ ᴚ Ǝ ᗡ ⊥ ⊥ O Ɔ S (@scottderrickson) January 10, 2020
Derrickson wrote and directed the first Doctor Strange, which made over $600 million at the global box office and was the biggest debut take for a Marvel character at the time (in 2018, Doctor Strange lost that title to Black Panther). Derrickson will stay on as an executive producer on the film.
Sam Raimi had been in talks to replace Derrickson, and on April 14, Raimi confirmed in an interview with ComingSoon.net that he is involved with the project. Raimi dropped the news while speaking about the trilogy of Spider-Man films he directed in the early 2000s, starring Tobey Maguire. In Spider-Man 2, as J. Jonah Jameson is rapidly brainstorming a new name for supervillain Dr. Otto Octavius, a staffer proposes “Doctor Strange,” to which Jameson replies, “That’s already taken.”
“I loved Doctor Strange as a kid, but he was always after Spider-Man and Batman for me, he was probably at number five for me of great comic book characters,” Raimi said. “He was so original, but when we had that moment in Spider-Man 2, I had no idea that we would ever be making a Doctor Strange movie, so it was really funny to me that coincidentally that line was in the movie. I gotta say, I wish we had the foresight to know that I was going to be involved in the project.”
Note that Raimi merely said “involved in the project,” not that he is necessarily directing. We will update accordingly when we know more.
Ties to the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe
This time around, Doctor Strange won’t be a solo act. Marvel hasn’t officially said whether or not Benedict Wong will return as Stephen Strange’s assistant or whether Rachel McAdams will reprise her role as Christine Palmer, Strange’s love interest, although both seem likely. However, we do know that Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness will have one big co-star: Elizabeth Olsen will appear in the movie as her Avengers character, the Scarlet Witch.
In fact, Wanda Maximoff is slated to play a big part in Doctor Strange’s next adventure, which will spin directly out of the events of the Scarlet Witch’s upcoming Disney+ series, WandaVision. What that means isn’t clear. Disney and Marvel haven’t said much about WandaVision other than that it will have both Olsen and Paul Bettany as the Vision as co-leads. Even that tidbit raises more questions than answers, though: The Vision died in Avengers: Infinity War. How he will return remains a mystery.
At the very least, however, this news confirms that the impending MCU series on Disney+ will have a direct impact on the feature films, instead of being shunted off to the side like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Netflix’s Defenders lineup.
The MCU’s first horror flick?
Although he’s no longer in the director’s chair, Derrickson indicated during Comic-Con 2019 that Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness will be “the first scary MCU movie,” and that it will embrace “the Gothic and the horror” that made Derrickson fall in love with Doctor Strange in the first place. Whether that changes in the wake of his departure from the project is unknown at this point, but horror fans are likely hoping Marvel finds another horror-friendly filmmaker to take over the movie.
Updated on April 27, 2020: Added the film’s new release date.