Marvel Studios has already kicked off Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Captain America: Civil War at the beginning of the summer season. The Hollywood release cycle has now turned it's attention towards Oscar caliber movies, but Marvel is gearing up to release Doctor Strange. Similarly to how Guardians of the Galaxy opened up the cosmic side of the MCU, Doctor Strange will open up the mystical side.
Doctor Strange star Benedict Cumberbatch is one of the busiest people in the industry. In addition to his film career, Cumberbatch also is the star of the hit TV series Sherlock, alongside fellow MCU member Martin Freeman, and is also frequently tied up with stage roles. Due to this busy schedule, there was a time when it seemed like Cumberbatch would have to pass on the chance to join Marvel's universe.
Cumberbatch was always Marvel's first choice for the role, with director Scott Derrickson recently saying he was the only one 'seriously considered' for the role, though Joaquin Phoenix also seemed to be very close to playing the role at one time. However, Cumberbatch was so sought-after that the studio actually reshuffled its release plans to accommodate him; if Marvel had kept to their initial plans, Doctor Strange would have already hit theaters in the heat of the summer season. Instead, they pushed back the date to November and allowed more time for Cumberbatch's schedule to clear up. But just because Derrickson and Marvel were dead-set on seeing Cumberbatch in the role, the actor was still uncertain whether fans would feel the same way.
Speaking to Screen Rant during our visit to the set of Doctor Strange, Cumberbatch explained that the Internet is a scary and judgemental place:
Well really, when it was first talked about, I met with Kevin, I met with Scott and, timeline-wise, I can’t remember. I’ve been watching Making a Murderer and realizing how familiar that sounds, it’s really scary [laughs]—No, but seriously, I can’t remember exactly when. But I remember—I think it goes two ways. I think you can just throw yourself at the internet’s mercy and be part of social media and get into a room with people who wanna f--- you, kill you, maybe some both at the same time or you just take a little step back and do your own thing in your own world. And then stuff leaks through and you’re like, “Oh, that’s interesting, that’s horrific, that’s libelous, but what can I do?” [laughs]
You let things run in order to have some sanity and be able to do your work and not feel pre-judged. That’s not even a word, but you know what I mean. I think of people have an opinion about it so I guess I’m saying is that I was probably too scared to look into the fan-driving on it.
But I’m flattered that people thought I was a good fit and maybe that resonated with the guys upstairs. It was hard at a point, because of the scheduling over this side of the Atlantic, so I’m just really—it’s a massive compliment to me and then to empower me to work for that idea of the character that they postponed the making of this to accommodate both my production of Hamlet and going into Sherlock season 4, so it’s another reason to deliver every day, to fulfill that promise. But it’s a really rich character. It’s an easy thing to have a good old meal every day...
I was very nervous about doing the Entertainment Weekly cover, because I thought, “Okay, this is the first taste, this is the first visual moment.” By then I obviously knew a lot of the more iconic moments in his comic history, but still it’s me. It’s not a drawing, it’s not an artist; it’s me and I’m kinda frightened. But it seemed to go down really well and Kevin and everyone was happy and I just kinda stepped back and I went, “Great” and settled into the job. That way you can try to own part of it as well as serving what’s already.
From surprising fans waiting in line for the Marvel Hall H panel at SDCC this year with autographs and photos, or even stopping at a local comic shop in full costume on the final days of filming, Cumberbatch has shown an enthusiasm with the role that not all big name actors would have had. Doctor Strange will only be the start of what is sure to be a long tenure within the Marvel Cinematic Universe for the actor, so hopefully the passion will be maintained throughout. Stay tuned to Screen Rant for more coverage from our Doctor Strange set visit.
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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.