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Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3 May Be Replaced By A Surprise MCU Film

After Disney fired James Gunn as the director of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 back in July, the threequel film meant to close out the funk-song-filled, dance-battle-sprinkled franchise got pushed onto rocky ground and placed on a temporary production halt as the studios "regroup" to select a filmmaker to replace Gunn. Now, reports have surfaced that suggest Guardians Vol. 3 might get completely booted out of its spot on Marvel's release schedule, with what's being described as a "surprise MCU film" replacing it. 

So, what might this so-called unforeseen Marvel Cinematic Universe installment be? According to the folks at ScreenGeek, it's Doctor Strange 2.  

ScreenGeek recently picked up on an exclusive report that The Daily Mirror published in mid-August, one that claimed Benedict Cumberbatch, the actor who plays the genius Sorcerer Supreme, is poised to earn £7.5 million (roughly $9.96 million USD) to top-line a sequel to his 2016 solo superhero movie Doctor StrangeThe Daily Mirror further alleged that Marvel will get Doctor Strange 2 behind cameras in spring 2019, estimating that filming "could take as long as six months." 

Taking this nugget of information, which neither Disney nor Marvel has confirmed as of this writing, ScreenGreek explored what it could mean for the MCU as a whole, coming up with the idea that Doctor Strange 2 could take precedence over Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 on Marvel's to-do list. 

The outlet pointed to Cumberbatch's reported £5 million ($6.6 million USD) salary increase as a primary piece of evidence supporting that idea, and looked to a mysterious message Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson posted to Instagram as additional corroboration. 

In July, shortly after Gunn's firing, Derrickson shared an image of Doctor Strange from the Marvel comic books with the caption, "'Not my will, but thine be done...' See you in September." Many fans, including but certainly not limited to ScreenGeek's James Hadden, took this to mean that Marvel had gotten to work on Doctor Strange 2, and that the studio would be making a major announcement regarding the sequel pic sometime in September. 

It would be easy to shut down the idea that Doctor Strange 2 is really in the works considering Disney and Marvel haven't made an official announcement about it or given it a release date.  However, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige did actually reveal that a Doctor Strange sequel is happening, although it will launch several years after the first movie. 

"Sometimes when people ask, 'What about this character, what about that character?' I go, 'Well, it's scheduling.' ... Sometimes it's where do those characters pop up? [Doctor] Strange, you know, whenever we do another Strange one, which we will do, it will be a number of years from the first Strange, and yet he's a very big part of [Avengers:] Infinity War," Feige told CinemaBlend earlier this year. "So it is just a good problem to have when you have too many beloved characters that people want to see more of." 

Popular speculation is that Marvel will release Doctor Strange 2 sometime in 2020 – the same year Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 was meant to debut, at least according to Gunn. If The Daily Mirror's report is to be believed wholeheartedly, a 2020 premiere for Doctor Strange 2 would certainly make sense. An early 2019 filming start date and a mid-2019 end date would give the filmmaking team at least a year to scrap any superfluous footage, piece together the movie, add in any CGI, and make appropriate edits before rolling it out in theaters. 

The real question here, though, is whether Doctor Strange 2 will actually replace Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 on Marvel's movie docket. Marvel never formally dated Guardians Vol. 3, but the studio does have three dates in 2020 reserved for MCU entries: May 1, 2020, July 31, 2020, and November 6, 2020. The third Guardians movie could have occupied any one of those spots, and if Marvel really does plan to launch Doctor Strange that year, the superhero sequel will likely arrive on one of those dates. 

Unfortunately, since we don't have inside knowledge of the going-ons at Marvel Studios, we can't say with complete confidence that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 was definitely set for release on, say, May 1, 2020 before Gunn was fired and before Disney and Marvel put the film on hold. Similarly, we can't say for certain that Doctor Strange will launch on May 1, 2020 to replace Guardians Vol. 3. It's all a big bundle of conjecture for now, but it's something everyone should keep their finger on the pulse of, as it will definitely create some swelling waves in Marvel's cinematic pool if it ends up being true. 

With Feige assuring that a second Doctor Strange movie is coming at some point, with The Daily Mirror claiming that Doctor Strange 2 will start filming next spring, and with Derrickson teasing what could be a huge announcement in September, it appears that things are really heating up for the Doctor Strange sequel and that fans may learn more about it in just a few weeks. 

For the time being, however, Marvel fans can look forward to catching Avengers 4 — which is rumored to be titled Avengers: Endgame thanks to a cryptic social media post from the film's co-directors — on May 4, 2019 and Spider-Man: Far From Home on July 5, 2019.