It would have been a great casting, but sadly it wasn’t in the cards. Deadline reports that talks have broken down between Joaquin Phoenix and Marvel over Phoenix playing Doctor Strange. For months, Phoenix was rumored to be in negotiations to play the titular character, but according to the article, “he never had a deal.”
With the Phoenix negotiations “kaput,” get ready for a wait because Marvel is back to looking for actors. Yesterday there was a rumor circulating that Ethan Hawke was up for the role, but Deadline states that this is “speculation run wild.” Among other actors that have been rumored at one time or another include Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hardy, Jared Leto and Jack Huston. I’m sure I’m forgetting a few names, but seriously, this is arguably the most rumored casting during the past year. Star Wars Episode VII and Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice may get more rumors overall, but when it comes to one fictional character, Doctor Strange is a frequent passenger on the rumor train. Doctor Strange is set for release on July 8, 2016, so there’s still plenty of time to find someone to wear that elaborate cloak and goatee…he’ll have the goatee, right? I may have made peace with James Gordon not having a mustache in Gotham, but if Stephen Strange isn’t rocking a goatee on the big screen come 2016, Marvel will feel my rage!
Unless you were part of those negotiations, we’ll never know what specifically led Phoenix to not taking the role. However, Deadline points out that Phoenix never seemed like a “Comic-Con kind of guy.” Specifically, Phoenix’s niche has always been independent, drama-driven films, not blockbusters. Marvel Studios has recruited many talented actors over the years who you might not have seen joining a superhero movie, such as Anthony Hopkins, Robert Redford and James Spader. While superhero films have earned a better reputation over the years, it’s possible that Phoenix just didn’t see himself being a part of this particular pop culture craze. Plus, if he had decided to play Strange, he’d have signed a multi-picture deal, I’m guessing at least six. For someone like Phoenix, he wants as much freedom choosing the projects he cares about, so he wouldn’t want to be tied down to a franchise. Yeah, it sucks, but you gotta respect the guy for caring that much about his craft.