Every film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe has one or two credits scenes that give a hint at what’s coming next, and Doctor Strange is no exception. Aside from giving Stephen Strange a cinematic debut worthy of comics’ most psychedelic superhero, it also gives us hints at the villain of a Strange sequel, Thor: Ragnarok and maybe, just maybe, at Avengers: Infinity War.
This post will contain spoilers for Doctor Strange.
Instead of hinting directly at the next movie from Marvel Studios, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (due in May 2017), the first credit sequence in Doctor Strange greets us with Chris Hemsworth’s Thor, who appears to be visiting our good Doctor in his Greenwich village stronghold just as someone with a mystery to solve might visit another of Benedict Cumberbatch’s best known roles.
This scene is our first return to a plot point from 2013’s Thor: The Dark World, which, despite Thor’s appearance in Avengers: Age of Ultron, had yet to be referenced or addressed again until now. Dark World made the seemingly huge reveal that instead of dying, Loki snuck back to Asgard and somehow usurped Odin’s throne by secretly taking his place. How the god of mischief was able to do that, not to mention where the heck Odin was when it went down, have been left an open secret.
In the Doctor Strange credit scene, it appears that Thor has already uncovered his brother’s deceit and taken action: He and Loki are in Midgard (and New York specifically) to find their father. Thor just has to clear bringing an incredibly powerful known criminal, like Loki, to Midgard with an authority in charge of Earth’s safety from other dimensions, like Stephen Strange.
After the god of thunder gives his assurances that he will be leaving Earth’s realm as soon as he and Loki’s business with Odin is concluded, Strange assents to their presence on Midgard and in New York and offers to give them help. The whole scene would appear to jive with photos from the set of Thor: Ragnarok (due in November 2017) that show Chris Hemsworth holding a business card with the street address of Strange’s Sanctum Sanctorum, as well as similar photos of Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston (Loki) and Anthony Hopkins (Odin) on set together in Australia.
Magic isn’t just for anybody anymore
Doctor Strange’s final credits sequence requires relatively less explanation — and certainly no need to remember a reveal from six movies and three years ago. Chiwetel Ejiofor’s Karl Mordo visits Benjamin Bratt’s Jonathan Pangborn and strips him of his magical abilities, in the culmination of Mordo’s character arc throughout the film towards that of an antagonist. We’ll undoubtedly see him return as the villain in a future Doctor Strange film.
One more thing
Kevin Feige recently hinted that in a year and a half, when Avengers: Infinity War rolls around, that the team-up he’s most looking forward to is between Doctor Strange and perhaps the MCU’s least mystical superhero: Tony Stark/Iron Man.
Feige probably means something more substantial than a contest over who rocks the goatee better, and Doctor Strange offered a subtle Easter egg that could very easily be spun into a connection between the two characters. Just before the pivotal scene where Strange runs his car off the road and so badly injures his hands, he talks to his assistant about potential patients to take on.
Naturally, per his character development at this point in the film, he dismisses several out of hand as either being too easy or being hopeless — and among those is one case described as a United States armed forces colonel who sustained a spinal injury in a experimental power armor-related incident. It’s a clear reference to James "Rhodey" Rhodes, whose War Machine armor crashed after being accidentally shot out of the sky in the final moments of the airport battle in Captain America: Civil War, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down.
With that connection established, it’s not outside the realm of possibility that Tony Stark won’t encounter Stephen Strange because of his reputation magic, but for his reputation with medicine.
You can read Polygon’s review of Doctor Strange right here, and for more on upcoming films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, check our timeline of every upcoming comic book movie on the calendar so far.