Marvel Studios waited patiently for Benedict Cumberbatch to become available so they could hire him to play Doctor Strange, even pushing the shooting schedule back by months so that the actor could commit to the role without having to worry about scheduling conflicts.
However, it turns out that TV’s former Sherlock Holmes could have boarded the cinematic universe much sooner, and as one of the worst villains in the franchise’s history, no less. As revealed in new book The Story of Marvel Studios: The Making of the Marvel Cinematic Universe via The Direct, he was under consideration for utterly forgettable Thor: The Dark World antagonist Malekith, with Cumberbatch admitting he’d always been drawn to the MCU from the outside looking in.
“I had friends that I supported in the like Tom [Hiddleston], and I was as intoxicated as everybody else was with the mixture of themes, humor, and the scale of cinema, of spectacle. But I didn’t grow up obsessed with any comics. I knew more about the cinematic universe than the comic universe.”
Christopher Eccleston ended up landing the role instead, something he’s admitted he regretted in the aftermath, which is fair enough because Malekith sucks. The epitome of the MCU’s early villain problem that took years to shake off, the Dark Elf offers no sense of threat or menace; he’s simply cannon fodder there to be vanquished in the third act.
It’s been five years since Cumberbatch’s solo debut hit theaters, but we’ll be getting a double dose of the Sorcerer Supreme in the near future thanks to Spider-Man: No Way Home and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.