We haven't seen new Marvel movies in 2020, but that doesn't mean Marvel stopped making them. Right now, two major films are currently shooting: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, due in theaters in 2022, and the third, untitled Spider-Man movie starring Tom Holland, due in theaters December 2021.
And there is one connection between the two movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Benedict Cumberbatch, in the role of his Sorcerer Supreme, Doctor Strange. However, there's reason to believe Cumberbatch won't be as involved with Spider-Man 3 as we'd previously assumed.
What Happened? — Donald McInnes, the stylist of Benedict Cumberbatch in the Marvel franchise dating back to 2016's Doctor Strange, shared on his personal, private Instagram a photo of two empty salon chairs from the set of an unidentified movie.
The tell McInnes gives away is that he geotagged his location "Atlanta, Georgia," currently the shooting location of Spider-Man 3. Meanwhile, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness has also begun shooting on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean in London.
The Cumberbatch Connection — As Cumberbatch's stylist across all his Marvel movies and other projects, it is very safe to suspect McInnes is in Atlanta for Spider-Man 3 to style Cumberbatch's hair and makeup for Spider-Man 3. Cumberbatch was reported to join the film by The Hollywood Reporter early last month in October.
While we don't know the full title of the movie, we know quite a bit about what's in store. In the steps of the 2018 Oscar-winner Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, the movie will explore the multiverse based on the inclusion of Jamie Foxx, who will reprise his role of Electro from the 2014 film The Amazing Spider-Man 2, a movie previously contained to its own continuity.
The movie will also include Strange in a "mentor" role for Peter Parker (similar to Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark in the 2017 film Spider-Man: Homecoming and Nicky Fury in Far From Home). The role will bleed into Doctor Strange's own ordeal with the multiverse we'll see in 2022's Multiverse of Madness. While it's tiresome how often the MCU keeps tethering Spider-Man to older, goateed men like he needs a babysitter, there does seem to be a greater narrative purpose in play in the MCU.
How Much Strange? — What's more revealing (and more difficult to figure out from the outside) is how much the next Spider-Man movie will involve Doctor Strange. Because Multiverse of Madness is filming at the same time as Spider-Man, it's curious to know just how much screen time Benedict Cumberbatch will have in Spider-Man before needing to fly to London and film the Doctor Strange sequel.
In an October interview with Watch Time India, Cumberbatch confirmed he is scheduled to shoot "the second Doctor Strange film" later that month or early November. While Cumberbatch could be purposefully fogging his role in Spider-Man, it also hints his Spider-Man shoot is a blip compared to his more meaty involvement with Doctor Strange.
The Inverse Analysis — While there was no reason to doubt THR's reporting, it's safe to expect that Benedict Cumberbatch will in fact star in Spider-Man 3; whether his role will be in a minor, supporting capacity or a principal character is yet to be known. For now, we can simply anticipate that the world of New York's friendly neighborhood Spider-Man is going to get stranger.
Spider-Man 3 will be released in theaters on December 17, 2021.