One of the oldest projects in development at Marvel Studios has been Doctor Strange, but after a longer than anticipated wait, fans are only a few months away from finally being able to see the film. While figuring out how to integrate magic into the Marvel Cinematic Universe was certainly one of the major hurdles to get the movie moving forward, casting was also of the utmost importance. From early on in the pre-production process, Benedict Cumberbatch was at the top of every fan cast or wish list for the part, and he was lucky enough to be chosen.
There was a point in time however when it did not appear like that would be the case. Marvel was reportedly very close to signing Joaquin Phoenix to play the Sorcerer Supreme, but the long term commitment was the final nail in the coffin for Phoenix to pass. Marvel moved on to expand their search to multiple actors, but according to director Scott Derrickson, Cumberbatch was always their man.
In a new interview with Empire, both the director and Cumberbatch himself were asked about the casting process. Derrickson said Cumberbatch was “the only actor we seriously considered” for the role. As for who else was possibly in contention? Well, Derrickson named Jared Leto, the newest Joker from Suicide Squad, as well as Ryan Gosling, and Phoenix as people he met with before going to Kevin Feige and said, “It’s got to be Benedict.”
Cumberbatch is an incredibly busy actor so finding the necessary time for this role was not easy. Luckily for him and fans who wanted him in the role, both sides were able to figure out how to make this a reality. Even though Derrickson says Cumberbatch was always their guy, the list of actors up for the role was certainly interesting. Each name would have brought something completely different to the role.
In Leto's case in particular, after the stories of his method acting techniques for Suicide Squad, many can likely imagine what kinds of things he would have tried while in character as Doctor Strange. Not only would medical training be a possibility, but also seclusion in an Asian city to practice the art of magic. Leto has found a role that may suit him better, and everyone can be happy that Cumberbatch was the man chosen for this role. Fans will definitely be seeing more of Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange in the future, the question then becomes just how big of a role he will be in the universe.
Doctor Strange opens November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man: Homecoming– July 7, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; Black Panther – February 16, 2018; Avengers: Infinity War – May 4, 2018; Ant-Man and the Wasp – July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel– March 8, 2019; Untitled Avengers – May 3, 2019; and as-yet untitled Marvel movies on July 12, 2019, and on May 1, July 10, and November 6 in 2020.