With last year's #DoctorStrange bringing with it a touch of the mystical to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the entire landscape of the world we knew is beginning to change. And the newly arrived Doctor Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) could end up being one of the most important parts of the upcoming ensemble piece Avengers: Infinity War, following up on that exciting #ThorRagnarok cameo.
With #InfinityWar production having already begun, the potential cast list is already full to bursting. We learned a while back that Cumberbatch was set to join the team to take on the Big Bad when #Thanos (Josh Brolin) rocks up, but Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige has been teasing a pretty special team-up for him.
Due to Infinity War having such a massive cast, it's unlikely that every character is going to get the opportunity to share scenes with every other character. But there are some moments we can definitely expect to see, and some pretty interesting team-ups happening. Of the most exciting of these was highlighted by #KevinFeige as the one he in particular is most looking forward to. It's a very exciting match-up indeed, between #MCU newcomer Doctor Strange and veteran Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.).
The two characters haven't traditionally been all that closely associated in the comics, though their paths have of course intersected. They were both founding members of the Illuminati, they both fought in World War Hulk, and became enemies briefly following the events of Civil War. They teamed up recently to combat Madam Masque in Brian Michael Bendis's Invincible Iron Man Vol 2, spawning the now famous "Awesome Facial Hair Bros" meme.
One can only imagine that the clash of facial hair will reach epic proportions, as Cumberbatch and Downey Jr. finally meet on the big screen. After tangling with Thor (Chris Hemsworth) in the Doctor Strange post-credits, we can't wait to see how Strange reacts to meeting the rest of the now fractured Avengers, and vice-versa.
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But that's not all to look forward to in Infinity War, as Feige teased some pretty interesting team-ups for the ensemble movie sandbox.
Feige didn't let much else slip, but did say that we should expect the unexpected when it comes to "who meets whom" in Infinity War. As he said:
"Particularly in Infinity War and the movie after that, there are … unexpected team-ups."
Unexpected team-ups have proven to work pretty well for the MCU in the past. From the game-changing Guardians of the Galaxy, which introduced our favorite talking raccoon and living-tree duo, to Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) taking the side of Iron Man over that of her best-buddy Captain America (Chris Evans) in Captain America: Civil War.
The possibilities are almost limitless when it comes to Infinity War, but what happens after the MCU explodes? It's going to get intense for whoever is left standing, and Feige promises a deeper dive into character when the MCU returns to more "intimate" movies after the two Russo brothers-directed ensemble pieces:
"I think it's possible to have more intimate movies after that, or to have more interesting, unexpected combinations of characters after that, absolutely. To us, it's less about continuing to go bigger with spectacle — although in some cases, we will — and more about continuing to go deeper with those character interactions."
And all this chatter about team-ups is actually very important when it comes to the role Infinity War will play in the wider MCU. Civil War divided and fractured the team, and despite Steve Rogers's gesture of peace toward Tony Stark at the end of the movie the tensions there cannot be so easily gotten rid of.
Feige's comments, combined with the recent rumors that Captain America might not see it through Infinity War, make the bringing back together of the team even more important. The fact that Iron Man and Doctor Strange — two characters who come from completely different worlds yet share a common background — are set to team up means that the crossing paths of these two could become the thread that begins to weave back together the team that was broken by Civil War.
The fact that the two will meet following the events of Civil War is even more pertinent, as their comic book equivalents found each other on opposite sides of the war, with Iron Man hunting down Doctor Strange and the New Avengers before Secret Invasion forced the two sides back together again.
By bringing together these two major characters, Infinity War may lose their captain, but they could gain a brand new power couple to lead the MCU into the next stage of the shared universe. And at the very least we'll see some epic facial hair clashes.
Avengers: Infinity War arrives in the US May 4, 2018. Who do you want to see teaming up in Infinity War? Have your say in the comments, and check out our Marvel post-credits scene compilation below!