Another day, another new hero added to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Phase Three of the studio's release schedule has already introduced fans to two new heroes, Black Panther and Spider-Man, in this year's Captain America: Civil War, and now yet another is set to debut in his very own movie. Doctor Strange hits theaters in November, bringing the Sorcerer Supreme into the MCU at long last. But will this new hero unite with Marvel's existing heroes? In other words, is Doctor Strange an Avenger?
First of all, after the events of Captain America: Civil War , there essentially are no Avengers currently in the MCU. Iron Man heads the officially sanctioned group, but who does he have left on his team? Black Widow is on the run, Spider-Man is too young, War Machine is paralyzed, Black Panther has returned to rule Wakanda, and Vision has exited the team to have an existential crisis. That leaves... Iron Man. Cap and his crew (Scarlet Witch, Hawkeye, Falcon, and Ant-Man) are no better, since they're all essentially fugitives, so I wouldn't call them the Avengers either. As for Thor and Hulk, they didn't even bother to show up for Civil War, so they're clearly not too concerned with the state of the team. So where does that leave Doctor Strange?
In addition to there not being any Avengers to join at the moment, Strange is also concerned with different types of threats than the team of superheroes is. While Iron Man and company fight physical opponents looking to cause trouble on Earth, Strange does battle against metaphysical beings looking to alter reality itself. These are threats the Avengers can't even comprehend, let alone fight, so Doctor Strange doesn't have any use for the other heroes of the MCU. At least not yet, but there's something coming that will unite him with the rest of the MCU.
It's already been revealed that Strange plays a role in the upcoming Infinity War , where Thanos takes over the universe using the Infinity Stones. After uniting the stones, the Mad Titan will have the power of a god, and will pose a threat to both the physical and metaphysical realms, drawing the attention of both the Avengers and Doctor Strange. Fans also theorize that there's a more immediate reason for Strange to join the battle: the Eye of Agamotto. Many believe this relic, worn around Strange's neck, is in actuality one of the six Infinity Stones, meaning Thanos will need to take possession of it in Infinity War.
As far as what kind of role Strange will play in Infinity War, star Benedict Cumberbatch believes the good doctor will unite the warring factions of Marvel heroes. He recently told Tom Butler of Yahoo! Movies, "[Doctor Strange's] job title is defender of the fabric of reality. I mean, he fights other dimensional threats that are beyond the perceptions of that very kind of potent squabble [between Cap and Iron Man], and I’d like to think he’s going to help them both, rather than take sides." In the same interview, director Scott Derrickson revealed that he doesn't think Strange will actually be joining a team anytime soon. "Part of what makes Doctor Strange Doctor Strange is that he stands in a lonely position," he said. "He is the gatekeeper between our world and other dimensions, so he doesn’t really stand on anyone’s side other than the side of protecting our world from the malevolent threats that only he [can] protect the world from."
There is, however, precedent for Strange joining up with other heroes in the comics. He became affiliated with the New Avengers branch of the team only recently, in the last decade, and before that was affiliated with a completely different superhero group: The Defenders. This group of heroes was far different than the street level crew currently assembling on Netflix, and was originally made up of the very powerful heroes Doctor Strange, Silver Surfer, Namor the Submariner, and Hulk.
To sum up, Doctor Strange is not a member of the Avengers in the MCU. But he will cross paths with them — and maybe even join them — in 2018's Infinity War.
Images: Walt Disney Pictures; Giphy