Right now, there are a lot of question marks surrounding the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe after the events of Avengers: Infinity War and its still-untitled 2019 sequel. We know we're getting Ant-Man and the Wasp, Captain Marvel and sequels to Spider-Man: Homecoming, Black Panther, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3., and we certainly know the universe won't grind to a halt, but many major characters don't have clear futures, in part because we just don't know if they'll survive.
One of those character is Doctor Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), who was introduced as the MCU's Sorcerer Supreme in Doctor Strange in 2016. Though he only has one movie to his name so far, Strange has a serious role to play in Infinity War as the guardian of one of the Infinity Stones (the green Time Stone, which powers the Eye of Agamotto pendant stored in the magical sanctum of Kamar-Taj), and the film's trailers suggest he's in for a world of pain as a result. We don't know where Strange's MCU road leads beyond that, if he'll appear in future Avengers films or in a Doctor Strange sequel or both.
On the latter front, even Cumberbatch isn't entirely sure if he'll be leading another solo movie as part of Marvel Studios' "master plan," but if it does happen, the first film's writers already have some big ideas in place.
Speaking at a recent Q&A following a screening of Doctor Strange in Austin, Texas, screenwriter C. Robert Cargill (who co-wrote the movie with director Scott Derrickson and screenwriter Jon Spaihts) elaborated a bit on his sequel plans. According to MovieWeb, he declared to the audience that "Nightmare will be the villain" of Doctor Strange 2, should that movie get made. Cargill also reasoned that, should a villain like Nightmare show up, Chiwetel Ejiofor's Baron Mordo wouldn't be far behind.
"Marvel movies work in threes. They also work outside of their threes. Some of the better Marvel films have more than one villain in them," Cargill said. "Me and Scott have not laid the groundwork for it but what I can say is that I have a feeling that whatever Nightmare is involved with, Baron Mordo, being somebody who considers himself the defender of natural law will have something to do with it."
Nightmare is the original Doctor Strange villain, first appearing all the way back in Strange Tales #110 in 1963. He's an extremely powerful demon who rules over the Dimension of Dreams, capable of pulling sleeping humans from our world into his via their astral forms, where he torments them. He's used this ability in the past to trap people in their nightmares, feeding on fear energy, in an effort to take over our dimension, only to be thwarted by Doctor Strange and The Ancient One. Though Strange is his primary foe, he's been around in the Marvel Universe long enough to have tangled with just about everyone, and because of his power set he's one of the creepier villains out there.
It definitely makes sense to introduce Nightmare into the MCU, as it both draws in longtime Doctor Strange fans and gives Stephen Strange an enemy to fight that his Avengers counterparts simply aren't equipped for at this point. It's a uniquely Doctor Strange story, one that Derrickson considered exploring in the first film but ultimately dropped when he realized it would be too complicated to explain both Stephen Strange's origin and Nightmare's realm and powers in a single movie.
But what about Mordo? The end of Doctor Strange sets him up as the next big magical bad in the MCU as he begins his quest to rid the world of "too many sorcerers." According to Cargill, introducing Nightmare wouldn't knock Mordo out of the spotlight, but it would allow more time to set up a long game for the character.
"For those of you who have ever read the comics, you know that Baron Mordo has a very particular arc, and that's something we discussed with Chiwetel while working on the first movie," Cargill said. "And part of the reason Chiwetel wanted to play Mordo was because he has a definitive ending as a character and it's such a fascinating ending. And I do know that whether we're attached or not, that Marvel plans on working towards that ending and fully realizing Mordo as more than just a cardboard cutout villain, but actually taking him to kind of Loki levels of awesomeness. That's the goal with him."
Cargill sounds very confident that Marvel plans to continue to develop Mordo as a character even if he and Derrickson don't return to tell the second part of Doctor Strange's story. We still have no idea when, or if, we'll hear something concrete about Doctor Strange 2, but we know there are ideas in place...if the good Doctor manages to survive Thanos, that is.
Avengers: Infinity War is in theaters April 27.