All the clues were there. Official or unofficial, they were hardly subtle: Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange will be appearing in Thor: Ragnarok, alongside Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo/millions of pixels).
Fans had pretty much guessed this would be the case after the mid-credits extra scene in Doctor Strange showed Thor meeting with Strange, to chat about his and Loki’s search for their dad. Then there was also that leaked set photo showing Thor holding Doctor Strange’s business card.
Now, in a preview of what Disney has coming up in 2017, D23 (the company’s official fan club website) reveals:
“Thor: Ragnarok in November brings together Thor, the Hulk, and Doctor Strange to face off against intergalactic baddies both familiar and new.”
Now interestingly, that means three characters from the classic comic Defenders line-up – Dr Strange, Valkyrie (played by Tessa Thompson) and the Hulk – are now going to be fighting alongside each other in the same film. Thor: Ragnarok has never been touted as a “Defenders assemble” affair, but in some ways it will feel more like a proper live-action Defenders than Netflix’s small screen version. Jessica Jones has never been a Defender in the comics, and while Daredevil, Iron Fist and Luke Cage have all been Defenders, they’ve never felt like core members, and all four certainly never fought alongside as a team. (Although the Marvel/Netflix shows do feature Trish Walker – played by Rachael Taylor – who becomes Hellcat in the comics, who was part of the classic Defenders line-up.)
For us, the Defenders was always Marvel’s supernatural superteam, whereas the Netflix version feels more the street superteam. That’s not to say it won’t be brilliant (it probably will be), it just doesn’t feel very Defender-y. Whereas the cosmic Thor: Ragnarok does.
Thor: Ragnarok is set for a UK release on 27 October, despite what the US-centric D23 website says.