Casting the villain Nightmare for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness would surely be tough, but here's who we'd like to see play the character in the MCU. Marvel Studios finally confirmed at San Diego Comic-Con 2019 that the Benedict Cumberbatch-led sequel was in the works. The panel allowed them to officially announce expected news, like Scott Derrickson returning to direct, but also reveal new pieces of information, like that Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) will appear after WandaVision.
One piece of news that has not been confirmed, but is heavily rumored, is who the villain of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness will be. It is expected that the wicked Marvel demon Nightmare will be the main antagonist in the sequel. Nightmare is the ruler of Nightmare World, which is a sub-realm of the Dream Dimension. As a result, he has the ability to invade the dreams of anyone. As long as there are dreams, then Nightmare can retain his powers, which on some occasions has seen him take over the body of the person whose dreams he invades. Nightmare is one of Doctor Strange's biggest foes in the comics and someone Derrickson has repeatedly teased he wants to bring him to the screen.
If Nightmare is going to appear in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, then Marvel Studios will need to cast someone to play the role in the next year or so. In the comics, Nightmare's traditional form is as a skinny, pale-skinned, black-haired man. But there is no guarantee that Marvel will stick to those guidelines when casting the character. They will need to find the best person for the job who can believably bring the sinister villain to life. With that in mind, here are some of our favorite choices for actors Marvel should consider casting as Nightmare.
Our first choice for Nightmare is Paul Dano. He has so far mostly steered clear of blockbuster movies and has instead focused on prestige dramas or smaller independent films. As a result, he has built up an impressive resume over the last decade or so. He's best known for his roles in There Will Be Blood and Prisoners, while he received an Oscar nomination for Love & Mercy. Additional roles of his came in Rian Johnson's sci-fi thriller Looper, Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave, the off-beat comedy Swiss Army Man, and Bong Joon-ho's Okja. Through it all, Dano has shown a great range, but also a knack for being somewhat creepy. His vibe would work great with Nightmare and give Cumberbatch an incredibly talented actor to go toe-to-toe with. Plus, it could raise his profile so that more people check out past and future projects, which wouldn't hurt.
After bashing the comic book movie genre last year, Ethan Hawke may not be the most obvious choice to take on the villain role in Doctor Strange 2. But he has since backed off that stance a bit and could be swayed to join this movie in particular since he already has a connection to it. Hawke starred in Scott Derrickson's horror movie Sinister a few years ago, so the pre-established relationship and horror approach Doctor Strange 2 will take could entice Hawke to this villain role specifically. Since he is unlikely to take on a recurring blockbuster role, Hawke could bring the necessary gravitas to Nightmare. And as a veteran of the industry with multiple Oscar nominations, he fits the bill for who Marvel usually tries to cast as their villains.
David Tennant has already perfectly played one Marvel villain, but he could do the same with Nightmare in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Still best known for his time as The Doctor on Doctor Who, Tennant impressed many with his turn as Kilgrave in Jessica Jones. He clearly mastered the menacing Marvel foe who can manipulate people's thoughts, so he'd just have to swap the purple suit for Nightmare's green outfit to convincingly portray the dream-altering demon. Even though he's appeared in an MCU-adjacent project for Netflix and Marvel TV, Marvel Studios has shown a willingness to reuse some actors (see: Mahershala Ali being cast as Blade). Tennant could be the latest Marvel/Netflix actor to make the jump to the MCU and the intensity he brings to each of his roles would make him a great choice for Nightmare.
Casting Kathryn Hahn as Nightmare is a clear wildcard choice at the moment, but is still one that we'd love to see. Hahn has come a long way from her days a scene-stealing comedic performer. She recently starred in the Netflix drama Private Life and saw critics rave about her performance. Hahn also recently was nominated for an Emmy for her work on Transparent and has brief experience playing a Marvel villain as Doc Ock in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. She'd be able to go big with her performance as Nightmare and lean into the weirder parts of the character. As a matter of fact, there's a chance Hahn could already be cast in the role. She's set to appear in WandaVision as a "nosy neighbor" and we suspect that role could secretly be Nightmare, especially since Kevin Feige teased the series will directly lead into Doctor Strange 2.
If Marvel Studios wants to go in another unexpected direction, Lakeith Stanfield could be an excellent choice for Nightmare. He's one of the rising stars of Hollywood after roles in Atlanta (which Marvel Studios has already pulled from several times) and Sorry to Bother You. This would be a breakout, blockbuster role for Stanfield, who has yet to do something on this scale so far. His filmography shows that he'd be able to deliver while tapping into a villain role and the horror tones of the sequel could allow him to show a different side of himself. He could work perfectly with the stranger and crazier sides of Nightmare.
Our last suggestion for Nightmare is Andrew Scott, who has delivered two memorable turns on the small screen this year alone that showcase his ability. He carried an intense episode of Black Mirror and also became a favorite addition to Fleabag season 2 as The Priest - or "The Hot Priest" as many fans have referred to him as. Scott may not yet have the name recognition of some other choices for the role, but he'd be able to deliver on all aspects of the character. But the reason why this could just be a fun selection by Marvel is his history antagonizing Benedict Cumberbatch on Sherlock. He played Holmes' archenemy Moriarty throughout the series, so this could be a chance to have them share the camera again and continue their onscreen games.
- Black Widow (2020) release date: May 01, 2020
- Eternals (2020) release date: Nov 06, 2020
- Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021) release date: Feb 12, 2021
- Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2021) release date: May 07, 2021
- Thor: Love and Thunder (2021) release date: Nov 05, 2021
- Black Panther 2 (2022) release date: May 06, 2022