UPDATE: The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed TheWrap’s scoop and added that Phoenix is now in active negotiations for the lead role, not simply considering an offer by Marvel. Chances seem good that he’ll take the role.
ORIGINAL: When Marvel goes to Comic-Con for its panel tomorrow, there will undoubtedly be some absolutely jaw-dropping reveals – and we’re expecting that the actor who’ll be playing Stephen Strange in Marvel’s Doctor Strange may be announced there. However, we may have uncovered the lucky actor one day early.
According to TheWrap, The Master star Joaquin Phoenix, who recently appeared in James Gray’s acclaimed The Immigrant, is being eyed for the lead role in Doctor Strange, which Sinister helmer Scott Derrickson is directing for the studio from a script by Jon Spaihts, as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s upcoming Phase Three.
“Multiple sources” close to the project claim that Phoenix’s name is the one with the most force behind it right now as discussions continue as to who should bag the coveted lead role of Stephen Strange, a former neurosurgeon who protects Earth from threats both magical and mythical.
Phoenix’s name had previously been mentioned in association with the role of Lex Luthor in Warner Bros.’ upcoming Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, and that talks for that role progressed so far suggests Phoenix, despite having eschewed mainstream parts throughout his career, does have an interest in taking on a part in a superhero film.
Other contenders for the role are apparently Justin Theroux, currently starring on HBO’s The Leftovers, and Jared Leto, who is aiming to direct rather than star in upcoming projects. However, out of those three, I’d definitely be most excited to see Phoenix take on the role. If he does sign on, his involvement would call back to Robert Downey Jr.’s casting in the key role of Tony Stark/Iron Man for Marvel’s Iron Man – both are talented actors who have grappled with the spotlight over the years, but whose versatility on screen cannot be denied.
Doctor Strange is expected to follow Ant-Man and Captain America 3 as the third film in Phase Three of the MCU. That would place it as coming out on July 8th, 2016.