The Marvel Cinematic Universe is over eight years old, so it's natural that the world gets expanded with each passing movie. So far, they've accomplished this by delving into the different layers of the fictional universe through movies like Ant-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy.
With Doctor Strange, Marvel is taking one more, very important step: He'll bring magic, supernatural elements and, as it turns out, alternate dimensions to the MCU. During a press conference, Kevin Feige said this about the expansion of Marvel movies into different territories and what Stephen Strange has to do with that:
"We’re 14 movies in and at the end of the day we have to push the boundaries. You need something different and certainly this movie and this character [Doctor Strange] fits all of that. Tapping into other dimensions, tapping into sort of that supernatural realm of the Marvel Comic Universe is gonna come in handy, you know, as we move forward in the cinematic universe, so the timing is perfect."
That might sound like everyday talk about how Doctor Strange will expand the MCU but we have to analyze what that actually means and the possibilities it can bring:
"Other Dimensions" Can Refer To Different Things
What comes to mind for most of us when we hear "other dimensions" is a world parallel to ours that shares a lot of similarities. For example, (crossing companies here) The Flash deals with alternate timelines and dimensions; he travels to other worlds that can be very similar to his own. That's the version we're used to.
But for Doctor Strange, another dimension could mean a world engulfed in fire ruled by a big flaming head or a spiritual realm full of ghosts. There are no limits for the types of doors the Sorcerer Supreme can open in his quests for knowledge or discovery.
So "other dimensions" could actually mean "parallel Earths." Marvel has been doing "What if?" storylines in comic books for decades. One of the most significant ones I can think of occurred during the Heroic Age, when The Avengers had to travel to the future to face their children.
This storyline is particularly interesting because it merged an alternate future with Marvel's main Earth-616 timeline. In that series, the concept of different realities was dealt as "every possible future". Doctor Strange could be used as the bridge between the main MCU and a parallel Earth, and with Community and Rick and Morty's Dan Harmon helping to punch up both the comedy and sci-fi elements, anything is possible. I'm guessing Kevin is most likely referring to mystical dimensions, and those dimensions are going to be less like The Flash's near-identical doppleganger Earth-2 and a lot more like the Quantum Realm from Ant-Man.
What Can That Do For The MCU?
The biggest threat the current team of Avengers in the MCU have faced is an alien invasion, which is why Stephen Strange's world starting to be developed is such a big deal for future films. After Thanos is defeated, the Marvel Universe will continue and, without that big overarching alien threat gone, they need to have a new powerful adversary for our heroes to face.
That threat will most likely come from a mystical dimension; the best thing is that one of Marvel's most powerful baddies, Dormammu, exists in a different dimension. We now have that door open for him. Yes, he is a Doctor Strange villain but his powers are on a large enough scale to take on an entire team of heroes. How would The Avengers fight him off? Dormammu's sole presence poses a lot of interesting questions worth taking the time in a storyline to answer.
Let's not forget that there are a significant number of mystical bad guys in the Marvel Universe, which could battle smaller-level heroes. What if, in a future movie one of those enemies comes to Earth and we see heroes like Daredevil or Jessica Jones fighting against it? I know it seems like a stretch but Netflix already used alien technology in Luke Cage from what happened in The Avengers. Adding to that, one of the biggest rumors from The Defenders was that the heroes would face off against Mephisto and it's still not out of the question. Could we see Jessica Jones flipping off a mystical entity in the near future? And let's not forget that this season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has blown the door wide open on the supernatural with the inclusion of Ghost Rider.
Going a little crazier, with constant rumors that the Fantastic Four will be returning to Marvel, what if this is the House of Ideas' way of planting seeds for Doctor Strange to accidentally give Galactus a shortcut to Earth?
- The Parallels Between Their Stories Hint Marvel Is Setting Up Baron Mordo To Replace Loki's Role In The MCU
- 'Doctor Strange' Currently Has An Insanely High Rotten Tomatoes Score
- Forget Kaecilius, Baron Mordo May Have Solved The MCU's Villain Problem In 'Doctor Strange'
We are entering a new stage and, literally, a new dimension for villainy that could take the superhero genre to greater heights, that could enhance the storylines in a significant way. Because of that, I can't wait to see that happen and how it shapes up.