Audiences only have 4-5 months to wait before they get to see the next Marvel Studios’ film, Doctor Strange. The movie will introduce Dr. Stephen Vincent Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, among other noteworthy characters from the world of Marvel Comics. There will also be new MCU players introduced in the first of three MCU films scheduled to arrive in 2017, in the form of the sequel Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
Where Doctor Strange will be an origin story for Stephen Strange and follow him on his journey to becoming the new Sorcerer Supreme, the next Guardians of the Galaxy movie will reunite moviegoers with their favorite ragtag group of misfits from the MCU’s cosmic side – as they undertake a quest that involves finding Star-Lord’s (Chris Pratt) father. Marvel Studios has now released new plot summaries that confirm as much, but only hint at what else both of these films have to offer.
Marvel Studios’ synopsis for Doctor Strange goes as follows:
“Marvel’s Doctor Strange follows the story of the talented neurosurgeon Doctor Stephen Strange who, after a tragic car accident, must put ego aside and learn the secrets of a hidden world of mysticism and alternate dimensions. Based in New York City’s Greenwich Village, Doctor Strange must act as an intermediary between the real world and what lies beyond, utilizing a vast array of metaphysical abilities and artifacts to protect the Marvel cinematic universe.”
And here’s what Marvel Studios has for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2:
“Set to the backdrop of ‘Awesome Mixtape #2,’ Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 continues the team’s adventures as they traverse the outer reaches of the cosmos. The Guardians must fight to keep their newfound family together as they unravel the mysteries of Peter Quill’s true parentage. Old foes become new allies and fan-favorite characters from the classic comics will come to our heroes’ aid as the Marvel cinematic universe continues to expand.”
The plots presented are about what should be expected from these films, as far as a few descriptive sentences go, but they open up plenty of possibilities. Doctor Strange and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 will be the 14th and 15th installments in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but that doesn’t mean the MCU is about to run out of gas. Strange will be the film that introduces metaphysical concepts and alternate dimensions to go along with Norse mythology and legendary super soldiers. Guardians will be able to expand what we can see in a Marvel space opera, make some sort of reveal regarding Peter Quill’s father (especially given the casting), and deliver a hopefully-killer new soundtrack. Additionally, if you happen to be attending San Diego Comic-Con this year, be prepared to get a new look at both films.
Filmgoers who aren’t well-versed in Doctor Strange lore should be encouraged by Marvel Studios’ solid track record to check it out, as well as by curiosity about what director Scott Derrickson (Sinister, The Exorcism of Emily Rose) can bring to the superhero genre. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, on the other hand, needs to do little more than show some more dancing Groot to get most moviegoers onboard. Writer/director James Gunn recently finished filming the sequel, so those at Comic-Con this year should get to see a proper teaser for the film – and maybe find out who the new “fan-favorite characters” mentioned in its synopsis are.
Ideally these synopses are doing more than just promising more of the same when it comes to the MCU though. While the spectacle has certainly reached some epic heights for some, others are wary of formulaic storytelling trends in MCU films past. Doctor Strange, for example, is an origin story (one that’s already attracted some controversy) and it can be difficult for superhero origin stories to not feel derivative nowadays. Guardians 2, by comparison, is coming off of a strong start, so hopefully it can follow through by offering something that feels as fresh as its predecessor.
Doctor Strange opens in U.S. theaters on November 4, 2016, followed by Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man: Homecoming – July 7, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; Black Panther – February 16, 2018; Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 – May 4, 2018; Ant-Man and the Wasp– July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel– March 8, 2019; Avengers: Infinity War Part 2– May 3, 2019; and as-yet untitled Marvel movies on July 12, 2019, and on May 1, July 10, and November 6 in 2020.