Marvel may have pushed back the production in order to accommodate the leading man’s schedule, but Benedict Cumberbatch wasn’t the studio’s first choice to play the title hero in Doctor Strange. Joaquin Phoenix was the one they initially wanted for the Sorcerer Supreme, but despite the actor entering final negotiations to join the MCU at one stage, talks ultimately fell apart.
The major reason is thought to have been Phoenix’s reluctance to sign a multi-picture contract with the studio, which goes steadfastly against his reputation as a talent that’s very meticulous when it comes to choosing roles. There was also speculation that he had no interest starring in a comic book blockbuster, but when he donned the face paint for Todd Phillips’ Joker, that was shown not to be the case.
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Of course, Joker was made for a relatively thrifty $55 million and was an R-rated psychological drama that just happened to be set in the DC Comics universe, but it was still a commercial studio project. And after the movie raked in over a billion dollars and saw the leading man scoop an Academy Award for Best Actor, reports have been swirling that Phoenix could end up committing to sequels.
However, insider Daniel Richtman is now claiming that Marvel want to bring him into the fold as well for a brief cameo in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, where he would play an alternate version of the neurosurgeon turned Master of the Mystic Arts who hails from a different Earth. While it would be a cool Easter Egg and a more than welcome addition to the ensemble, there’s every chance that Phoenix has absolutely no interest in showing up in a franchise sequel for nothing more than a fan-baiting cameo. As such, it remains to be seen if they’ll be able to get him on board or not.