Ever since Joaquin Phoenix turned down the role of Doctor Strange for Marvel Studios, director Scott Derrickson has been on the hunt for a replacement. With production set to begin early next year, Marvel’s leaving no stone unturned in their search. On practically a daily basis, it seems we’re seeing new reports on who’s in the running – whether it be Ewan McGregor, Ryan Gosling, or an extensive wish list of other A-listers.
Kevin Feige has previously stated that the film does not call for a “movie star” to carry it, but one look at the names of the candidates indicates that Marvel would like to have some kind of star power to sell casual audiences with. Today, that list grows even longer – with three more famous thespians reportedly up for the part.
The Wrap is reporting that Marvel’s “frontrunners” at this point include Benedict Cumberbatch, Colin Farrell, and our very own suggestion, Mr. Keanu Reeves. Their sources also state that Jared Leto and Oscar Isaac are among those pursuing the Sorcerer Supreme (as was previously announced), but it seems like they’re on the outside looking in for now.
Cumberbatch, of course, has long been rumored for Doctor Strange and was one of the first names to pop up when Marvel began their casting process a few months ago. He’s been one of comic book fans’ favorite choices (and was one of the five actors we thought could play Doctor Strange) thanks to his roles in geek-friendly properties like The Hobbit, Star Trek Into Darkness, and BBC’s Sherlock. With the actor earning awards buzz for The Imitation Game, his star will only continue to rise, and Marvel would like to scoop him up while they can.
While there’s few denying Cumberbatch would make for an interesting Strange, his schedule may render him unable to do the film. Season 4 of Sherlock (along with a Christmas special) is expected to be in production during the early part of 2015, allegedly the same time Derrickson will shoot Doctor Strange. With four 90-minute episodes to film, Cumberbatch may want to take some time off when he concludes portraying the iconic sleuth again.
Listeners of the Screen Rant Underground podcast know very well that we’ve been in the “Keanu as Strange” camp from the beginning, and now it sounds like Marvel is taking notice. The Matrix star is headlining this month’s John Wick, an action film that is earning rave reviews from critics and moviegoers alike, meaning that his career could be on the comeback trail.
We’ve said before that Reeves possesses the kindheartedness necessary to play Stephen Strange, as well as making a name for himself as something of an outsider – another quality that fits the part.
When our own Ben Moore raised the possibility of playing Strange to Reeves, the actor appeared interested, saying that he “likes that kind of stuff,” referring to the magic and mythicism that will help create a new corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. A veteran of such genre films as The Matrix and Constantine, Reeves would be right at home with the material – and his planner seems clear for the time being (though that could change should John Wick be a hit).
Farrell also seems poised for a return to glory, as he’s locked in for one of the leads in season 2 of HBO’s True Detective. The actor should wrap up production on the crime drama prior to Derrickson rolling his cameras, meaning that scheduling issues shouldn’t be a major concern if Marvel truly is considering him.
Like many of the names that have come up for Doctor Strange, Farrell’s forays into big Hollywood pictures are few and far between, but he has displayed some solid acting chops in smaller films throughout his career, and should be able to handle both character drama and the trademark Marvel humor should he be selected.
If these three names are really at the top of Marvel’s list, we’d have to say it’s a two-man race between Reeves and Farrell. Cumberbatch, while first in many hearts, just doesn’t appear to have the time, while the others will be looking to capitalize on their (potential) newfound popularity following buzzed about projects.
As was the case with Phoenix, it will all come down to who’s game for sequels and/or multiple appearances (something several of the candidates have rarely done). But no matter who plays Strange, Marvel is showing that they want another strong actor to join the MCU. Casting has always been a strength of theirs. There’s no reason to start doubting them now.
Which of these frontrunners do you want to see play Doctor Strange? Let us know in the comments section below.
Doctor Strange is expected in theaters July 8, 2016.
Follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisAgar90.