Sometimes it's funny the way these things work out. When the casting rumors began for “Doctor Strange,” one of the very first names attached to the role was Benedict Cumberbatch. During this year's San Diego Comic-Con, I was convinced that the real reason Cumberbatch was in San Diego had nothing to do with the “Penguins of Madagascar” film, and that Marvel was going to bring him out and introduce him as the Sorcerer Supreme.
At that time, though, Marvel was evidently deep in conversations with Joaquin Phoenix. I still have trouble seeing him in the role, and knowing how reluctant he is to repeat himself from film to film, the idea of locking him into a six-film contract to play one character seemed like lunacy to me.
Today, reports are breaking that Cumberbatch officially has the role as they're finishing up conversations. Cumberbatch is, without question, an incredibly strong actor, and adding his icy imperiousness to the mix should make for an interesting new dynamic among the Marvel characters. In some ways, this is the best Marvel could have hoped for. Cumberbatch has a rabid fan base, he's a serious awards-season contender as well as a guy who has demonstrated a willingness to play in the big blockbuster space as well, and he's well-known without being a giant movie star.
There has been speculation in the last few weeks about other names they have been considering, including Ryan Gosling, Ethan Hawke, Keanu Reeves, and Justin Theroux, and there are reasons each of them would have been an interesting fit. Director Scott Derrickson has history with some of them, Marvel has history with others, and some of them were just fascinating possibilities. The idea that Marvel has now made their decision and they're aggressively moving to close Cumberbatch's deal would seem to indicate that they're picking up steam on the movie, and now I'm wondering if we're going to see Cumberbatch live and in person tomorrow morning when Marvel throws a major press event in Hollywood for reasons that are, as of right now, still a secret.
We'll have more about “Doctor Strange” as casting continues, and it will be exciting to see it come together.
“Doctor Strange” is in theaters July 18, 2016.