[Updated: Is Patrick Dempsey interested in playing Dr. Strange? Read On!]
This morning we reported on the rumor that Marvel Studios is looking at the idea of introducing some of their lesser known characters through short films that would be attached to the theatrical releases of their blockbuster tentpole features. The plan would allow for unknown-to-the-mainstream secondary characters to debut to a large built-in audience, and Marvel could gauge response to see whether or not they want to make full-length movies for those respective characters.
Characters that come to minds of fans are the obvious choices who have popped up in interviews and speculation over the years. These include Black Panther, Dr. Strange, Iron Fist and Luke Cage, and strangely enough, one of these characters may already be on their way to getting a solo movie. Deadline is reporting that Marvel Studios has finally hired writers to pen the script for Dr. Strange!
Marvel has selected Thomas Donnelly and Joshua Oppenheimer to write the screenplay for the Dr. Strange adaptation and they come with plenty of recent experience. Donnelly and Oppenheimer penned the script for Marcus Nispel's Conan which just finished production as well as the adaptation of the Uncharted video game movie. They also wrote a draft for Jon Favreau's Cowboys and Aliens. Their experience in writing in the genres of comics, video games and epics - all involving action and some involving supernatural elements - lends itself well to a Dr. Strange story.
Dr. Strange has been a character made clear by the folks at Marvel as a property of interest and in the talk surrounding the production of Thor, it was hoped that the movie about the Asgardian God of Thunder could help open the door (and the minds of mainstream audiences) to the themes of mysticism and magic, so a character like Dr. Strange could get his feature film treatment.
Dr. Strange may be a tough sell on his own so I wouldn't doubt that there would be cross-overs and cameos with Marvel's line-up of films. Then again, it's a likely possibility that the Disney-owned Marvel Studios may put into production small-budget films based on their more obscure characters such as Strange, so it may not be that much of a risk depending on the profile of the cast members and the budget.
Update: Speaking of the cast, Bleeding Cool is reporting that Patrick Dempsey (Grey's Anatomy) is interested in playing Dr. Strange, and artist Arne Starr seconds that motion, whipping up a faux promo poster of Dempsey as Doc Strange, which reportedly put the actor on Marvel's radar for the part.
We'll check into this a little bit further and then get back to you - in the meantime, start asking yourself "Would McDreamy make a good Doctor Strange?"
There's also the idea of a Defenders movie which would have Dr. Strange lead and fight alongside other key members of the Marvel Universe, many of which are Avengers members, to combat mystic and supernatural threats. The Defenders were never an official team and its members continuously changed based on the enemy and situation. Such a movie could include the likes of Hulk or Thor and act as a spin-off to The Avengers.
It's clear that Marvel is looking ahead long-term as word on the street points to a S.H.I.E.L.D. movie being made after The Avengers and other reports indicate that Marvel is in talks with a “notable Hollywood star” about the Luke Cage character. We also know that Peter Sollett (Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist) has been hired to direct the Runaways movie based off a script by Drew Pearce and we can't forget about Edgar Wright's long-gestating Ant-Man movie.
It's an exciting time to be a Marvel fan and there's plenty to look forward to.
What do you think about the prospect of a Dr. Strange movie?
Iron Man 2 is currently in theaters everywhere; Thor opens May 5, 2011; The First Avenger: Captain America hits July 22, 2011 and The Avengers is scheduled to debut May 4, 2012. We’ll find out what comes next at San Diego Comic-Con next month!
Updated Sources: Bleeding Cool & Arne Starr Artwork
Header image edited from Dr. Strange art by YamaO.
Marvel Adventures Hulk #8 cover by Juan Roman cano Santacruz.