Spider-Man and Doctor Strange New Release Dates May Change the MCU Timeline

There were complaints from many when it was announced that Doctor Strange would replace Tony Stark as a mentor figure for Peter Parker in Sony and Marvel’s third ‘Spider-Man’ collaboration, and now it’s unclear whether the Doctor’s presence will be justified.

The original release dates for the “Multiverse of Madness” and “No Way Home” were May 7th, 2021 and November 5th, 2021 respectively, implying the events of WandaVision and Doctor Strange’s second outing would lead him to involvement with the wall-crawler. With delays related to the pandemic we now have a “Christmas” release date for Spider-Man and, in an unusual turn, a March 2022 date for Strange, flipping the release order.

I’ve never had doubts about Kevin Feige, but he’s not necessarily in charge of Sony, and it seems like they’re following their own plan regardless of what moves Marvel is trying to make. At any rate, it seems the sequence of theatrical films will now be Sony/Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, Black Widow, Shang Chi, and… Sony/Marvel’s Spider-Man 3… the fastest turn around since Iron Man 2…

With rumored/ confirmed castings of Alfred Molina, Jaime Foxx, and Willem Dafoe, villains from other universes imply the need for an established multiverse. Marvel could take the same approach they are with Black Widow, simply acknowledging we’re not seeing things in order, but if there are consequences that impact one story to the next, leading from the end of “WandaVision” through “No Way Home,” it will require a shift in production to adjust both stories for this layout.

From as far back as Iron Man 2 in 2010, when Mickey Rourke spoke out about his frustrations with the ever-changing final product, through 2019 when Tom Holland commented on Jake Gyllenhaal’s “panic” of learning his ever-changing lines, it’s clear Marvel projects have constantly been in flux (also google Captain America: Serpent Society) and they have, for the most part, been very well received.

But at what point does the story spiral in too many directions? And what can Marvel do to keep things moving forward?

It would be easy enough to edit scenes previously connecting the movies, since both are near finishing production or in post. But with Sony seeming to follow their own schedule for their properties in the ‘Spider-verse,’ (Don’t get me started on how Sony has been pushing the sinister six since 2014.) and with the narrative plan changing so much for the MCU due to pandemic-related delays, I can’t help but flash back to a haze of stigma related to the Star Wars sequel trilogy (something about a director being fired?).

Tom Holland’s interview with ‘Collider’ has been enlightening, and is worth exploring, because under the surface of a positive attitude towards teamwork among studios, there are hints of uncertainty regarding the plans for the future of the MCU.

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