Massive spoilers follow for Doctor Strange.
Many fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe weren't sure what to expect from Doctor Strange when it was announced, but that skepticism can be put to rest. The film itself was definitely a gamble by Marvel, considering that an entire Multiverse had to be developed. The film's success was dependent on a lot of factors, and its international success so far proves that it was a gamble worth taking.
That's not to say the Multiverse exists because of Stephen Strange — it is, however, Strange's involvement that place it at the front and center of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Doctor Strange Enters The Dark Dimension
Beyond the existence of the Multiverse in the MCU, there was also an exploration of alternate dimensions — and one in particular: the Dark Dimension.
Most of the information on the Dark Dimension had been kept quiet until the international premiere date of Doctor Strange, and for good reason. It turns out the Dark Dimension was quite integral to the plot, despite no indication of it early on.
In Doctor Strange, one of the biggest revelations of the film is that the Ancient One used the Dark Dimension for her own personal gain, casting spells from the Book Of Cagliostro — which drew power from the Dark Dimension — to keep her body from aging. Spells that derive their power from their Dark Dimension are known to corrupt all those who use them; the Ancient One never seemed phased by her use of the Dark Dimension power, but her old pupil Kaecilius, on the other hand, is an entirely different story.
The Film's Hidden Villain Resides Within The Dark Dimension
Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) was confirmed to be the villain of Doctor Strange quite early on, but not much else was said of his character. However, now that the film has premiered, we know that Kaecilius was a former student of the Ancient One who also sought out power from the Dark Dimension. Kaecilius attempted to draw forth the power he needed to resurrect his dead family, but he wound up making a deal with an entity from within the Dark Dimension instead: Dormammu.
Another big surprise in Doctor Strange was the first appearance of Dormammu. Early speculation indicated that Dormammu would have a role in Doctor Strange but it was unsubstantiated. Now that Dormammu has made an appearance, we can probably expect him to resurface in a future MCU film, despite Stephen Strange banishing Dormammu to the Dark Dimension forever.
There are plenty of ways for Dormammu to jump out of the Dark Dimension — and he figured out just how to do that, in Marvel Comics.
In the comics, once Dormammu was trapped in the Dark Dimension by Doctor Stephen Strange, he tried to think of any way he could to break the deal he made. In return for Strange's help in holding back the Mindless Ones from invading the Dark Dimension, Dormammu vowed never to return to Earth's dimension.
However, Dormammu found a loophole in the deal: if Stephen Strange were dead, he wouldn't have to keep it. So Dormammu conceived a plan to have Stephen Strange killed — by having none other than Baron Mordo execute the plan.
Will Baron Mordo and Dormammu Conceive A Similar Plan In The MCU?
In comparison to the comics, Doctor Strange depicted a similar deal taking place between Stephen Strange and Dormammu. The deal struck would require Dormammu to remain out of Earth's dimension forever, in exchange for Strange extinguishing the endless time loop he caught Dormammu in. Quite clever for a newly developed sorcerer!
With that in mind, it wouldn't be impossible for Dormammu to resurface — with the source material from the comics indicating as much. And if the comics do influence the next chapter in Strange's story, it'll likely depict Baron Mordo reaching an agreement with Dormammu to kill Stephen Strange. If Mordo is successful, he could become stronger than the Sorcerer Supreme. And it appears as though Mordo's motivations have turned to becoming the strongest sorcerer, considering that he just stole the magic from within John Pangborn (Benjamin Bratt).
Mordo was last seen removing the magic within John Pangborn in the post-credits sequence of Doctor Strange, so it's obvious Mordo no longer has a mind towards the wellbeing of others. Baron Mordo may be seeking out more magic to add to his repertoire and he could even resort to tapping into the Dark Dimension to strike a new deal with Dormammu, similar to the events in Marvel comics.
Baron Mordo will possibly even resurface during Avengers: Infinity War when Stephen Strange teams up with the Avengers for their cosmic battle with Thanos. However, there's also a matter of Mordo's Minions entering the fold.
Additional Mystic Beings Could Join Dormammu and Mordo In The MCU
As of now, Mordo doesn't seem too keen on other sorcerers existing in the MCU, but he might recruit some disciples of his own, similar to how he acquired Adria, Demonicus, Kaecilius and Anthony Baskerville for his group known as Mordo's Minions in Marvel Comics. Kaecilius is currently dead, but now that the Time Stone has asserted its ability to alter the fabric of reality, Kaecilius could be recruited into Mordo's Minions.
But Mordo's Minions aren't the only magically inclined characters who could join the MCU.
The newly introduced Dormammu also has a plethora of villainous disciples he can call on in his next appearance. The most likely candidates would probably be Dormammu's sister Umar or the Mindless Ones.
The Mindless Ones aren't actually Dormammu's disciples; they're quite an opposition for the denizens of the Dark Dimension, including Dormammu. Even beings like Dormammu fear the Mindless Ones since they stand as "mindless" juggernauts, destroying everything in their path.
As previously mentioned, Dormammu resorted to asking Doctor Strange for help when the Mindless Ones invaded the Dark Dimension; Dormammu couldn't restrain them on his own, and it was up to Stephen Strange to save Dormammu from an even more menacing force. Technically, Strange didn't intend to rescue Dormammu, but he did so to ensure the survival of the rest of the Dark Dimension's inhabitants. Had the Mindless Ones been unleashed in the Dark Dimension, it would have likely led to a massacre, and that event could reasonably have led to the Mindless Ones invading several other dimensions, including Earth's.
When and if the Mindless Ones make their debut in the MCU, they're going to be an even bigger threat than Dormammu and we've already witnessed a taste of Dormammu's power. Imagine what the Mindless Ones are like if they scare Dormammu!
They're quite horrifying creatures, who have strength similar to the Hulk — but they're interdimensional beings, made of properties stronger than the Hulk. In the comics, there's an entire barrier kept to prevent the Mindless Ones from entering the Dark Dimension. Considering that Dormammu has to maintain a barrier to keep them out of the Dark Dimension, who knows what kind of mayhem they would bring to the MCU?
Dormammu is currently sifting in his defeat, but he may find some purpose in unleashing the Mindless Ones by directing them to Earth's dimension. Here are the two most plausible branching off points for the Doctor Strange story...
'Doctor Strange 2'
A sequel could be the ideal place for Baron Mordo and Dormammu to strike a deal to unite against Stephen Strange. Dormammu is currently trapped in the Dark Dimension, but with help from Baron Mordo, he could be released during Doctor Strange 2. There's no slated date for Doctor Strange 2, but it's pretty safe to assume there'll be one announced at some point during Phase 4.
The sequel to Doctor Strange may even be utilized as a branching off point for Dormammu to take center stage as the antagonist of the Phase 4, since Phase 3 of Marvel's plan has emphasized the mad titan Thanos, a more physical threat, as the main antagonist.
'Avengers: Infinity War'
Stephen Strange has been confirmed for a role in Avengers: Infinity War and Wong will be joining him as well, which implies that the mystic side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe will be explored during Avengers: Infinity War. If so, that would mean Baron Mordo could be due for a return. Then there's also the possibility of Dormammu making an appearance in the film, even without a connection to Baron Mordo.
Considering that the Infinity Stones will be at the center of Avengers: Infinity War, reality and dimensions are likely to be warped, which could give Dormammu an opening to enter Earth's dimension. Dormammu's arrival on Earth would make for a fitting lead-in as the main antagonist of Marvel's Phase 4, since we can expect Thanos to be dealt with before Phase 3 concludes.
Doctor Strange premieres in the U.S. on November 4, 2016. What do you hope to see in the sequel?