Benedict Cumberbatch confirmed as Doctor Strange
Update (12/4/15): Following weeks of negotiations, Marvel has confirmed that Benedict Cumberbatch is officially Doctor Strange.
Original Article (10/27/14):After months of rumors, it appears that Marvel has finally found the man it wants to take on the challenging, starring role of Doctor Strange. According to a report from Deadline, Marvel has chosen Benedict Cumberbatch to be its Sorcerer Supreme.
At the moment, the casting is still in the negotiation stage so the deal is a long way from final. There’s also reason to be cautious when it comes to this film. Joaquin Phoenix was also approached to star, but the actor turned down the role.
If Cumberbatch accepts, it will end one of the longest and widest casting circuses in years. Along with Cumberbatch and Phoenix, several well-known actors were mentioned in contention. Some were little more than rumor, while others came from the actors themselves lobbying for the role. Some of the names tossed around included: Patrick Dempsey, Ethan Hawke, Johnny Depp, Boardwalk Empire’s John Huston, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Justin Theroux, Jon Hamm, Ewan McGregor, Keanu Reeves, and a whole lot more.
The film would be a bit different from the other Marvel films currently on the slate, as it would steer away from the pseudo-science that Marvel’s cinematic universe has gone to great lengths to seem real, in favor of a mystic hero that uses magic. To bring that to life, Marvel will need a talented actor that can stand next to the likes of Robert Downey Jr. while spouting odd sounding incantations like “By the Eye of Agamotto!” and not sound completely ridiculous doing it. It’s a tough role.
The character of Dr. Stephen Strange began as a famed, world class neurosurgeon that was arrogant and proud. After a car accident that damages his hands makes surgery impossible, Strange slowly burns through his entire fortune attempting to regain his prowess, but to no avail. Penniless and homeless, Strange turns to other forces to heal himself and follows rumors of a hermit in the Himalayas calling himself the “Ancient One.” The Ancient One refuses to help Strange due to his arrogance, but changes his mind when the doctor saves his soon-to-be-teacher’s life. After completing his training in the mystic arts, Strange returns to New York and takes the mantle of Earth’s Sorcerer Supreme.
When discussing the film, Marvel studios president Kevin Feige described the Doctor Strange movie as “a Classic Marvel origin story,” but also claimed it would be “an acid trip through different worlds.” To bring that to screen, the studio turned to director Scott Derrickson (Sinister, The Day the Earth Stood Still). Thomas Dead Donnelly and Joshua Oppenheimer (Conan the Barbarian, Dylan Dog: Dead of Night) are attached to write.
While it seems like the pieces are finally in place, it’s important to note that Cumberbatch has yet to officially sign. Like Phoenix, Cumberbatch has recently focused on smaller, more intimate films that are garnering Oscar attention, like the upcoming biopic, The Imitation Game. Unlike Phoenix though, Cumberbatch has shown no problem also stepping into big budget, sci-fi films like Star Trek Into Darkness, and The Hobbit trilogy. The actor’s busy schedule may also be something of an issue. Cumberbatch recently completed work five films that are on the way, is attached to three more, and is also committed to a fourth season of Sherlock. Marvel will likely want to lock the actor down for multiple films and appearances, which could prove problematic.
Still, while the deal is far from finalized, Marvel appears to have found its man. No official release date has been given for the Doctor Strange film (there’s a chance we’ll hear something on that tomorrow during Marvel’s mysterious announcement), but the smart money is on a 2016 release.