Before the arrival of Doctor Strange in the Marvel universe, two clues already announced his presence, one explicitly, the other much more discreetly.
Sometimes Marvel movies announce well in advance what will happen in their connected universe. Thus, two clues and winks slipped into two different films announced the presence and future arrival in the Marvel Cinematic Universe of Doctor Stephen Strange, since played by Benedict Cumberbatch.
Thor: The Dark World
Stellan Skarsgård plays Dr. Erik Selvig, an astrophysicist specializing in thermonuclear. During a scene during which he explains that the nine existing kingdoms cross each other symbolizing the kingdoms by shoes, we can see on his blackboard the mention of “Crossroads”, a dimension that exists in the comics under the name of “Crossroads”.
The Crossroads is a dimension whose center is a kind of star whose each “arm” leads to a different reality. In the comics, it is intimately linked to a narrative arc devoted to Doctor Strange. Indeed, after Bruce Banner commits mental suicide, Doctor Strange sends the Hulk, who has become unmanageable, to this dimension so that he does not hurt anyone.
In an MCU where the multiverse and alternate realities have already been featured, the Crossroads could soon appear in Marvel movies and series. Thor: The Dark World would then serve as a precursor film.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Interrogating a member of HYDRA who disguised himself as a member of SHIELD can often reveal a lot. So in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), and Falcon (Anthony Mackie) have the opportunity to manhandle a witness to learn more about the Insight Program.
By “shaking” the so-called Jasper Sitwell a little, they learn that the algorithm they are investigating is a program intended to choose the targets of “Project Insight”. Among the targets listed, Sitwell names Steve Rogers, Bruce Banner and…Stephen Strange. Without giving more details.
This was the second mention, this time direct, of the Master of the Mystical Arts before his own film.
Bonus – Thor, the error of the Orb of Agamotto
In the first Thor movie, many fans mistook the artifact below (seen in Odin’s Treasure) for the Orb of Agamotto. This object allows Strange to detect the use of powerful magic and acts as a “crystal ball” allowing observation of Earth and other dimensions. But this object is not present in the film, it is in fact the Diapason, or Turning Fork in English.
The Tuning Fork is a magic item that summons a terrible creature: the Unknown Horror, one of the Lords of Fear. In the comics, Odin uses it to test his son Thor and if he wins, he can marry the human Jane Foster. In the MCU, however, the object has never been used so far, it is simply a nod to an episode in the literary life of Thor.
Doctor Strange will eventually appear in his own solo film in 2016, and returns to theaters this year with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, directed by Sam Raimi. And you will see, the doctor has many problems to solve: