Phase 4… or is it Phase 5?  Which was the one with all the ants?  Anyway, the latest phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is rushing headlong towards us.  Naturally there is a lot of speculation as to how they can possibly follow Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame.

Kevin Feige loves a tease and a hint.  He can’t stop dropping them.  True to form, he was at it again as the guest speaker at the New York Film Academy.  President of Marvel Studios and Chief Creative Officer of Marvel, he laid a tease about some classic Marvel characters appearing in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

“Sometimes you’re choosing [a] title hero, choosing which main character or main team you want to bring to the screen and oftentimes, it’s as you’re making and developing the movie [asking,] ‘Who will come into it?’ and ‘Who will fit into it?’

The next Doctor Strange film, for instance, features some new MCU characters which will be making their debut in that movie. You won’t expect or won’t guess who it is but we found a cool way to make it work because we want to make a particular type of movie there. And there was a character who we always wanted to do something with who will fit really well there.”

Feige had already dropped some hints that Doctor Strange 2 would be akin to Marvel’s first horror.  This lead to frenzied speculation that maybe this is how Blade gets introduced to the MCU.  He has been cast and announced as Mahershala Ali.

This would lead some classic paranormal Marvel characters to be able to appear such as Brother Voodoo, Clea, Dracula (from Tomb of Dracula), Werewolf by Night, Man-Thing, Ghost Rider, or Nightmare.

Not so fast!  Feige has now backtracked somewhat on his earlier comments about the horror elements and tempered expectations.  More “1980s Amblin” than “1970s unsettling”, so some horror-like sequences but not out-and-out horror:

Multiverse of Madness is the greatest title we’ve ever come up with, by the way, which is one thing that’s exciting about it. I wouldn’t necessarily say that’s a horror film, but … it’ll be a big MCU film with scary sequences in it.

I mean, there are horrifying sequences in Raiders that I as a little kid would [cover my eyes] when their faces melted. Or Temple of Doom, of course, or Gremlins, or Poltergeist. These are the movies that invented the PG-13 rating, by the way. They were PG and then they were like, ‘We need another [rating].’

But that’s fun. It’s fun to be scared in that way, and not a horrific, torturous way, but a way that is legitimately scary – because Scott Derrickson is quite good at that – but scary in the service of an exhilarating emotion.”

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness opens in cinemas on May 7th, 2021.