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With Tony Stark now dead and buried, the Marvel Cinematic Universe needs someone to pick up the slack and hold all the threads together. If you haven't guessed already, that someone is Doctor Stephen Strange. And that's not just fan talk — Kevin Feige said exactly that during a recent Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremony for Benedict Cumberbatch, where the Marvel Studios boss described the sorcerer as "the anchor" of the comic book mythos.
"To us and to millions around the globe, you deserve this honor for being the first, the best, the greatest, and the only Doctor Stephen Strange," Feige said. "Benedict has turned this character into an icon, appearing in a historic three of the top six [highest-grossing] films of all time. It's been quite a journey, I remember our very first meeting ... we wanted to pitch him this great character and before we could, he said, 'So tell me about Doctor Strange,' because somewhere you knew what this could be. You've always seen the tremendous potential in this character and because of that, you've become the anchor of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the only actor capable of guiding us through the madness of the multiverse."
That last comment, of course, is a reference to the hero's upcoming sequel, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, from Loki head writer Michael Waldron and acclaimed Spider-Man director Sam Raimi. The film is expected to be a major cornerstone of the MCU's Phase 4, taking the concept of infinite realities to levels of insanity (and fan service) that Loki and Spider-Man: No Way Home could only dream of. It could also be the tentpole that opens the door for the X-Men and Fantastic Four in the MCU.
Watch the full Walk of Fame ceremony below (Feige's speech begins around the 22-minute mark):
"It's not just the roles you play onscreen that make you so remarkable," Feige continued. "It's the roles offscreen as well. Husband, father, creative collaborator and partner, actor with the busiest schedule in the world — who gives our physical production team heartburn trying to make the dates work — and friend. Thank you, sir, for your extraordinary contributions to the MCU and to the industry — from Shakespeare to Rodenberry, from 221B Baker Street to 177A Bleecker Street — you have secured a well-deserved place in history with this star. I know I speak on behalf of the world and particularly on behalf of everyone at Marvel Studios when I say congratulations and we love you."
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness opens in theaters everywhere Friday, May 5.