Benedict Cumberbatch Nearly Turned Down “Dated And Sexist” Doctor Strange

doctor strange
Image via Marvel Studios

Plenty of names may have been considered during the development process, but Benedict Cumberbatch was always Marvel’s number one choice to play the title role in Scott Derrickson’s Doctor Strange.

In the summer of 2014, the Sherlock star revealed that he wouldn’t be able to play the part due to scheduling conflicts, which saw countless other actors taken into account including Joaquin Phoenix, Ryan Gosling, Jared Leto, Ethan Hawke, Oscar Isaac, Jake Gyllenhaal, Colin Farrell and Keanu Reeves.

Ultimately, Marvel decided to push back the start of production so that Cumberbatch was free and clear to throw on the Cloak of Levitation and become the cinematic universe’s Sorcerer Supreme, but he admitted in an interview with Esquire UK that he almost it down after finding the character to be a little outdated and sexist.

“I kind of had my doubts about it, from just going into the comics. I thought ‘This is a very dated, sexist character.’ And it’s very tied up in that crossover, that kind of East meets West occultism movement of the Sixties and Seventies. And then they sort of sold me on the bigger picture, on ‘Oh no, don’t worry, this will be very much a character of his time. And, yes, he has attitude problems… but this is what we envisage.'”

Obviously, some of the more questionable elements of the source material were updated for modern audiences, but that didn’t stop Tilda Swinton from coming under fire for inhabiting the Ancient One. Doctor Strange isn’t really regarded as top-tier MCU by fans, but it was a suitably solid and often psychedelic origin story for the Master of the Mystic Arts, with next year’s sequel Multiverse of Madness set to significantly raise both the stakes and the bar.