If Marvel hadn’t delayed production we could have had a very different Doctor Strange

Marvel's Doctor Strange is set to hit theaters on November 4th but we could have already seen it if not for everyone involved really, really wanting Benedict Cumberbatch to play the Sorcerer Supreme.

We've been talking a lot about Doctor Strange the last year or so here at HitFix and while we've seen a few trailers we're about to see the marketing machine ramp up very soon.

Empire Magazine started off with their new cover reveals and has started rolling out a few bits of information about their larger feature on the film which stars Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Tilda Swinton, Benedict Wong, and Rachel McAdams.

But as it turns out, there's an alternate history (if you think existentially like that, and I think Doctor Strange would) in which the cast was led by another actor. Several in fact.

Director/co-writer Scott Derrickson told Empire they met with Joaquin Phoenix, Ryan Gosling, and yes, Jared Leto for the role of Doctor Strange. After Leto's antics on Warner Bros' Suicide Squad I can't help but feel a bit relieved he decided “It”s got to be Benedict,” but who knows what each of those actors might have brought to the role.

We'll never know because even then, Derrickson said the Sherlock star was “the only actor we seriously considered” for the role and that in fact, they waited for him to start the film.

The actor had already agreed to play Hamlet in London”s Barbican in autumn of 2015, and Strange was aiming for a summer 2016 release date. It seemed like it wasn”t meant to be. “It just wasn”t possible,” says Derrickson. “To his credit he said, ‘I can”t bail out of Hamlet. I”ve given my word.””

Cumberbatch genuinely thought he”d lost the part. “I really did think I had to kiss it goodbye,” Cumberbatch tells Empire. But Marvel were keen to keep their man, and so – unusually for a production of this size – the summer 2016 release became an autumn 2016 release.

Cumberbatch admits the gesture “motivated me to try to fulfill their faith in me.” Here's one of Empire's new covers featuring the main cast doing their best catwalk: