"Doctor Strange" Confirmed For Marvel Studios' Phase Three

With more than three months until the launch of Marvel's Phase Two with "Iron Man 3," the studio has confirmed the long-rumored Doctor Strange film will be part of its cinematic third wave, alongside Edgar Wright's "Ant-Man."

"'Doctor Strange,' which I've been talking about for years, is definitely one of them," Marvel Studios President of Production Kevin Feige told MTV. "He's a great, original character, and he checks the box off this criteria that I have: he's totally different from anything else we have, just like 'Guardians of the Galaxy.' He's totally different from anything we've done before, as is 'Ant-Man,' which keeps us excited."

Marvel hired "Conan the Barbarian" screenwriters Thomas Donnelly and Joshua Oppenheimer in June 2010 to pen "Doctor Strange," believed a the time to be part of a studio initiative to produce movies featuring second- and third-tier characters with a relatively low budget -- somewhere in the $20 million to $40 million range. By way of comparison, the budgets for 2011's "Captain America: The First Avenger" and "Thor" were estimated between $140 million and $150 million.

Feige suggested that "Ant-Man," which opens Nov. 6, 2015, may set the tone for Phase Three. saying, "It will of course be firmly planted in the MCU, but a different corner than we've seen before. [...] So much of the stories we're telling [right now] is about the core 'Avengers' characters we've now met, and they'll be evolving in big, surprising ways, in Cap's next movie and Thor's next movie and of course in 'Iron Man 3,' as we get them all into the next 'Avengers' film. Beyond that ... 'Ant-Man' is the only one officially announced, but you probably don't have to look too far to guess at the next list of characters we're toying with and beginning to develop."

Many fans and online commentators will undoubtedly take Feige up on his challenge: Black Panther is an obvious choice, considering the studio hired a writer two years ago. Iron Fist is also a prime candidate, as xXx screenwriter Rich Wilkes signed on to that project in August 2010. And don't forget "Runaways," which was on the fast track until Marvel suddenly pulled the brake in October 2010 (screenwriter Drew Pearce, who collaborated with director Shane Black on "Iron Man 3," contended production was put on hold so the studio could focus on "The Avengers").

Marvel's Phase Two begins May 4 with the premiere of "Iron Man 3," followed by "Thor: The Dark World" (Nov. 8), "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" (April 4, 2014), "Guardians of the Galaxy" (Aug. 1, 2014) and "The Avengers" sequel (May 1, 2015).

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