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'Doctor Strange' ushers in new chapter in Marvel movies

'Strange' stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Stephen Strange, who becomes a sorcerer. The film will incorporate elements of magic that may be less familiar to Marvel fans.

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    'Doctor Strange' stars Tilda Swinton (l.) and Chiwetel Ejiofor.
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The upcoming Marvel movie “Doctor Strange” will introduce new elements to the extremely popular superhero universe as the Marvel films continue to move into what is known as “Phase 3.” 

“Strange” stars Benedict Cumberbatch, as Stephen Strange, a successful surgeon who injures his hands in a car accident and soon learns how to wield various magical powers.

The movie co-stars Tilda Swinton, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, and Mads Mikkelsen.

In some ways, “Strange” is a departure for the incredibly successful Marvel movies. Before now, most Marvel stories have focused on superheroes who gain their powers through technology or scientific experiment, such as Iron Man and Captain America. One of Doctor Strange’s traditional titles in comic books is Sorcerer Supreme, showing that his story includes actual magic in a way that may be mostly unfamiliar to Marvel audiences.

The movie “Doctor Strange” is part of what is often called Marvel’s “Phase 3,” which began with this year’s movie “Captain America: Civil War.” That film has already had ramifications for the superhero universe; for example, Steve Rogers, also known as Captain America, and his allies may be on the run following Cap helping his friends escape from a government prison.

Now, with “Doctor Strange,” IGN writer Scott Collura writes that “the MCU is about to get a lot bigger with the release of Doctor Strange.” Following the release of the movie, Mr. Collura writes that Marvel plotlines could involve “parallel dimensions … and other supernatural players and events … Will these drips and drabs of the supernatural turn into a tidal wave of magic in the Marvel Cinematic Universe once Doctor Strange is released?”

With future Marvel movies possibly incorporating new elements, will audiences continue to come along for the Marvel ride? 

It may be unwise to count Marvel out. Doubts have been expressed about the success of Marvel properties before, including when 2014’s “Guardians of the Galaxy,” which centered on unusual and little-known characters and which became a big box office hit, was planned. So far, Marvel is still pretty much king of the superhero movie world. (Reviews for "Doctor Strange" itself are mostly positive so far and the film has little competition in its opening weekend at the box office.)

However, Screen Rant writer Marc N. Kleinhenz sees Phase 3 as possibly having the problems of “too many characters … too daunting to newcomers … [and] diminishing returns,” among others.

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