An Obsessive Look at ‘Doctor Strange’ Casting Options

Steve Ditko, Artist; Ernie Chua, Inker; David Hunt, Colorist

Steve Ditko, Artist; Ernie Chua, Inker; David Hunt, Colorist

Now that a director is in place with a writer on the way, Marvel can no longer hem and haw about DOCTOR STRANGE being part of Phase 3 of their movie slate.

Dr. Stephen Strange (his actual name) was a egocentric neurosurgeon driven to be the best in his field, that is until a car accident results in extensive damage to his hands and ends his career. Distraught and seeking a way to regain control of his now shaky hands, he finds himself destitute and heads to the Himalayan mountains for his last hope – an old man known as The Ancient One. His time here leads him down the path to become the Sorcerer Supreme, Earth’s mystic protector.

Director Scott Derrickson’s resume is mostly horror (THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE, SINISTER among others) as well as the Keanu Reeves lead remake of THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL. As someone who’s managed various types of special effects as well as creepy imagery, plus a script potentially from PROMETHEUS’ original writer Jon Spaihts, I expect there to be some kind of freaky magic going on. That means we need an actor who can effectively pull off both the mundane world and reacting to, not to mention performing, the extraordinary (in addition to making the emotional journey from self-centered jerk to humbled protector).

So let’s take a good, hard, unnecessarily deep look at our options, shall we?

Rumored Contenders
Since the news broke, I’ve seen a few credible sources float a couple of names around. The most popular seem to be Benedict Cumberbatch (SHERLOCK, STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS) and Tom Hardy (THE DARK KNIGHT RISES, INCEPTION) with Jared Leto (DALLAS BUYERS CLUB, MY SO-CALLED LIFE) as a third option, but being mentioned almost as an afterthought (I guess we know who most of the sites are pulling for, huh?).

I would imagine Cumberbatch would be Marvel’s number one choice. He’s a very hot commodity now, both in terms of acting ability and popularity (the gifs…my gosh, the neverending gifs), and I’m sure they’d prefer to keep him out of Warner Bros./DC’s clutches. Hardy is a great actor as well but…I’m less convinced that he’s right for the part. Not for any real reason I can place, I just have a hard time seeing it. But that never stopped anyone from being cast and being great (Michael Keaton and Heath Ledger, right?). I’d prefer to see Leto as Starfox (I think he could do some really, really interesting stuff with the part) but I can actually picture him working as Strange. More than Hardy but not as much as Cumberbiz.

Another name that’s been bandied about, especially early on when the film was in the rumor stage, is Johnny Depp which, I mean, c’mon. He’d be pretty stellar. I ‘m not sure it’s likely since his name hasn’t been coming up lately but he’s already proven he can deliver everything needed for the part.

The most interesting name I’ve heard, though fleetingly, is David Tennant. Yes, the 10th Doctor himself. I haven’t seen anyone else report on this so we’ll see what develops if Hardy and Cumberkins end up passing.

Who Should Be The Frontrunners
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk about who really should be playing the good Doctor.

There’s nothing about Stephen Strange’s backstory that necessitates he have any particular background. In fact, being a doctor means it’s just as likely he be not white. To me what’s important about him is his presence, an excellent head of hair, and the ability to rock a goatee.
oded fehr & sendhil ramamurthyCheck, check, and check.

It will be extremely, extremely, extremely difficult for me to immediately accept anyone other than Oded Fehr or Sendhil Ramamurthy as Strange. I mean, look at them. Can’t you just imagine them rocking the Eye of Agamotto? And have you heard either of them speak? They’d be able to sling spells with the best of them.

Oh…wait. You know who else I’d immediately love in the role? Cliff Curtis. BECAUSE CLIFF CURTIS.

You may say these three gentlemen aren’t “big enough” names to head this movie but, at this point, Marvel could cast a banana as a major character and people would still fill the theaters. Like any superhero character, it’s more important to cast well than for the actor to be well known. See: Christopher Reeve, Lynda Carter, and Chris Hemsworth, among others.

Other Options
Ok, so nothing written above is floating your boat. Here are 12 more actors who could make that giant cape look good, in alphabetical order:
Wes Bentley – We already know from his work as Seneca Crane in THE HUNGER GAMES that he can rock any type of facial hair and look good. He’s also a fine actor who hasn’t quite had his big breakout role yet. This could be it.
Matt Bomer – If I can’t see the star of WHITE COLLAR as Nightwing, by gum I’ll see him as something.
Patrick Dempsey – The GREY’S ANATOMY star has been lobbying for the part for yeeeeears and I definitely think he has the chops to pull it off. And the hair.
Michael Ealy – I’m still mourning the untimely demise of ALMOST HUMAN (*tortured scream into the night*) but anyone who’s seen it can attest to Ealy’s skills.
Jon Hamm – It’s only a matter of time before Hamm gets offered a role in a big blockbuster like this. Whether he takes it or not is another matter all together.
Desmond Harrington – He’s probably the longest of long shots on the list. Harrington has a solid history of strong roles, though his most notable recent role was as Detective Quinn on DEXTER. I’ve had a soft spot for him since I saw him in the Syfy mini-series TAKEN – excellent work there.
Joe Manganiello – Now that TRUE BLOOD is over, Manganiello will have a lot more time on his hands. He’d also be able to pull off the outfit and is no stranger to crazy plotlines. And he’s easy on the eyes.
Tom Mison – The SLEEPY HOLLOW star has been a name called out by SleepyHeads and Marvel fans alike. Could he pull it off? Sure. But I’m not sure he’d be able to make time for it. Contractual obligations and all that.
Dermot Mulroney – Dermot may be the second most random name on this list but he’s definitely got the chops for it. And he doesn’t have any Big Genre Baggage to combat.
Colin O’Donoghue – We already know he can pull off the costume. I mean, he plays Captain Hook on ONCE UPON A TIME. Have you seen his coats?
Clive Owen – Owen isn’t afraid of genre films and, with the right script, I’m sure he could be lured the good Doctor’s way. And he can rock a fine goatee.
Goran Visnjic – I’ve always enjoyed Visnjic. I don’t know if CBS’ upcoming EXTANT will tie him up long-term but he’d be a fine lead for the film.

Honorary Mention
There is zero chance that either of this actors will be even remotely in the running but they bear mentioning: Boris Kodjoe and Jason Momoa. Because yes.

So, what do you think? Which options do you love? Which options do you think are way off?  Do you have a better suggestion? Do you feel just like posting photos because of all the pretty? Have at the comments section, my friends!

About Tamara Brooks

A few things I wondered about as a kid: Why didn't Wonder Woman punch more bad guys in the face on the tv show?; How does Superman flying around the Earth turn back time?; Could someone really catch bullets with their teeth?; Why didn't the liquid bits of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man cause 3rd degree burns on whoever it landed on? Because melted marshmallow is up there with molten hot lava.