“Phase 3″ installment Doctor Strange will introduce (as Marvel Studios President of Production Kevin Feige described it) the “inter dimensional side” of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe; therefore, similar to James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy, Scott Derrickson’s Strange movie, has the appeal of being a film that shall take moviegoers to places in the MCU that’ve never been seen before, in addition to serving as the big screen introduction to a new superhero – with the current shortlist of front-runners to play Dr. Stephen Vincent Strange including Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hardy, and Jared Leto.

Doctor Strange remains on-course to make a Spring 2015 production start date, almost certainly with the intention of hitting a Summer 2016 release date target. As of right now, both Hardy and Cumberbatch have their names attached to a handful of developing projects, but nothing that would, per se, take precedent over a Marvel Studios film role – assuming they’re interested, of course.

Meanwhile, it recently seemed as though the Oscar winner Leto might be taking himself of the running, as reports have been circulating about him replacing Will Smith as the lead in the Marcus Sakey novel adaptation, Brilliance – which is something of a superhero movie in its own right. The project by director Julius Onah (The Girl Is in Trouble) could kickoff a new franchise, if successful, and is still expected to begin production by 2015; according to Nikki Finke, though, it will do so without Jared Leto, as the Dallas Buyers Club actor “has now turned down the project,” shortly after having met with Onah a week ago. Of course, that begs the question: is it because Leto’s close to striking a deal to appear in, say, a different superhero film (hint, hint) that will begin shooting in 2015?

The debate amongst fans over who is best fit to play Dr. Strange carries on, though as we’ve mentioned before Leto would be an interesting choice; while, traditionally, Strange from the comic books undergoes a transformation of character similar to Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) from the MCU, Leto does indeed have a very different presence that RDJ, so as to help ensure that Strange doesn’t come off as “Stark with supernatural powers,” so to speak. Leto has yet to dip a toe into the pool of Hollywood franchises, unlike his “competition” for the Doctor Strange role, as he comes from a more strictly indie film upbringing – but, then again, Feige also said that “a [big] movie star is not required” to headline the project.

Indeed, as intriguing as the Doctor Strange actor shortlist and fan-nominated favorite choices are (see: Game of Thrones‘ Pedro Pascal), the actual movie is the most enticing selling point. Derrickson, after all, is a filmmaker with credible supernatural horror material under his belt, such as Hellraiser: Inferno, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, and Sinister; likewise, screenwriter Jon Spaihts, who is currently reworking the Doctor Strange script, crafted Prometheus as a true sci-fi/horror blend, with his initial screenplay draft for that project.

Point being, much as Captain America: The Winter Solider had more than just shades of a political thriller and the hope is that Guardians of the Galaxy plays out as a quirky Star Wars-ian space adventure, Doctor Strange could be the Marvel equivalent of a character drama seen through a fantasy/horror lens. Fingers crossed it will, anyway.

Doctor Strange is likely to be Marvel Studios’ release planned for July 8th, 2016.

Source: Nikki Finke