Since making his MCU debut in 2016's Doctor Strange, Benedict Cumberbatch has only seen his role and importance in the franchise increase. And with half a dozen appearances already under his belt as the master magician, particularly with the Multiverse now fully in play, Cumberbatch is already set to take on more responsibility on-screen than ever before in Phase 5 and Phase 6.
The last couple of years have seen the British star shine as Strange in Spider-Man: No Way Home and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, introducing Strange to a number of exciting Variants of characters that shone across the Multiverse. He even met two different versions of himself in Doctor Strange 2, also seeing a statue of a third Variant, making him realize just how vast and wild the universe and the Multiverse really are.
As of right now, there are no set appearances lined up for Cumberbatch in Phase 5 or 6, although it's almost guaranteed that he'll be a part of the next big team-up movie duo in Avengers: The Kang Dynasty and Avengers: Secret Wars. Ahead of the next slate, though, Cumberbatch took a moment to tease where his journey is going in the MCU, especially with regard to the use of more than one Strange.
Benedict Cumberbatch Hypes Up Multiverse Saga Future
Speaking with Prestige, MCU star Benedict Cumberbatch looked at where Doctor Strange will go in Marvel Studios' Phase 5 and Phase 6, with a specific focus on more Variants of Strange.
Looking back at the final fight scene between Doctor Strange and Sinister Strange in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Cumberbatch shared his love for that "very bizarre and inventive battle" and noted that it was part of the movie since the earliest stages of development. He also teased that he wants to push that idea even further, hinting that there will be plenty of other Strange Variants on the way in future movies.
"We turned what was a very small combat between the two into a sort of very bizarre and inventive battle in that moment. I really loved it. It was how the original was pitched to me a long while back when Scott Derrickson was still working with us: Strange would meet versions of himself. It was something I wanted to lean into. We could have gone even further, and maybe it will go into the future. Who knows what other versions we might need in the multiverse chapter of the MCU? But it was very enjoyable to play all the variants of myself."
Cumberbatch also discussed the familiarity he has with the character, explaining that he sees himself as "the only person continuing the story and sort of safeguarding Strange" throughout his MCU journey, even with so much more to still learn about him. He also enjoyed the idea of making Strange "uncomfortable" any chance he could, which would lead to him being uncomfortable as an actor and having to take on a whole new experience every time:
"It’s strange, apart from some of the crew, I think I was the only person continuing the story and sort of safeguarding Strange, guiding his character into being and sometimes even educating people about another, which is a very weird responsibility because I still feel like I’ve got a lot more to discover. There’s so much lore in the comics to bring into the MCU and that’s just the beginning for his character. It’s very exciting for me to know there’s a lot further to go. But I feel a familiarity to him, definitely. There’d been a certain amount of continuity since the first … Ragnarok we did right on the table first, then the Avengers films and Spider-Man: No Way Home, of course. Which, you know, crudely for the character feels like a warm-up gig. It was a helpful refresher to say, I know this guy, I know what they’re doing. And I enjoy that. I also, you know, the minute I feel comfortable, I want to make him uncomfortable, make myself uncomfortable. I like that. As an actor, I want a new experience and take the audience with me as the character evolves. It was a bit like that in this film."
More Strange Variants Coming in Multiverse Saga?
After four different Variants of Stephen Strange took the spotlight in Doctor Strange 2, the man behind all of them only wants to expand on that plot point as Phase 5 and Phase 6 move closer to reality. And with the Multiverse having been fully unleashed and opened, all signs are pointing to the MCU's overarching story moving in this direction.
There's a good chance that Avengers: The Kang Dynasty will tackle the Council of Kangs from Marvel Comics, particularly after Loki Season 2 tackles more of this Multiversal villain through its own plot. And with multiple dimensions being unleashed upon one another ahead of Avengers: Secret Wars, there are sure to be multiple versions of the MCU's biggest characters fighting with and against each other.
Thanks to Strange's expertise with the Multiverse, he's sure to play a major role in leading the Avengers as he teaches his new and old team members about what lies ahead of them in Phase 5 and Phase 6. While there are no confirmed appearances in those two Phases of movies quite yet for Cumberbatch, that won't be the case for too long of a time.
Phase 5 of the MCU begins with Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, coming to theaters on February 17, 2023.