Saturday, October 18, 2014

Marvel's Search for Its Sorcerer Supreme Continues

It seems that just about every male leading man has had his name thrown into the mix for Marvel's upcoming Doctor Strange. With the film set to go before cameras about 5 months from now, time is running short for the Studio to find its man.

Nearly everyday this week different outlets reported several new names now in the conversation for the lead role in 2016's Doctor Strange. While original reports centered on names like Johnny Depp, Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hardy, Joaquin Phoenix had been THE guy being considered for the role for some time now. With Marvel missing out on all those names, they've expanded the search quite a bit over the past month. Over the course of the past week, Ewan McGregor, Jared Leto, Matthew McConaughey, Jake Gyllenhall, Oscar Issac and Ethan Hawke were all mentioned by Variety to be on Marvel's radar. Some of those actors (Leto, Isaac and Hawke) are said to be pursuing the role, while other's, like McConaughey, are on Marvel's (and everyone else's) wishlist. Even Ryan Gosling, loooooooooonng thought to want to stay away from comic book films, is rumored to have met with Marvel.

Clearly that list of names is full of fine actors. If rumors are true, Leto, who recently won an Academy Award for his work in Dallas Buyers Club, has been relatively aggressive in pursuing the role and that speaks volumes for how Marvel has grown as a studio. On the same note, Marvel's rumored dalliance with McConaughey, who also won an Oscar for Dallas Buyers Club, stems from their belief that they've proven to be so successful that they can at the very least have a meeting with ANYONE. Had you asked me a few days ago, I'd have said that I'd happily take Gyllenhall as Stephen Strange. While I understand the quality of the other actors on the list, there's something about Gyllenhall in the role that makes a lot of sense. But that was a few days ago...

Last night, The Wrap's Jeff Sneider updated the search for Doctor Strange and changed my mind. While Sneider reported that Phoenix had returned to the table for talks in light of Marvel recently throwing a bunch of money at Robert Downey Jr., Phoenix's representatives vehemently deny it and say that their client will not star in the film. Sneider also mentioned that the long-rumored Cumberbatch was back in play. Sneider added that Leto and Isaac were still pursuing the role and that Justin Theroux, who wrote Iron Man 2 for Marvel Studios, has also made known his desire for the role. Theroux certainly looks the part and, again, all those are fine actors; however, the final two names from Sneider's report really caught my eye: Keanu Reeves and Colin Farrell. Reeves is experiencing a bit of a career revival as his new film, John Wick, is garnering top marks from reviewers. Reeves is a 90's icon and would be well-received in the role by people in my demographic. Farrell, however, provides a layer that none of the other actors on this list do.

Farrell brings an authentic intensity and darkness to the role that the others don't have. While we know Strange is a hero, comic readers will also know that he's sacrificed much of what made him a good man in recent years. Given that the latest rumors about the story say it won't be a true origin story, Farrell might be the perfect candidate to pick up as a slightly older Strange. I think Gyllenhall could offer much of the same (he did fine in Donnie Darko), but Farrell does it better.

I'd expect them to select a Sorcerer Supreme soon as they'll need to do some screen tests with the rest of the cast. While we don't know much about the rewritten script, it's probably not a reach to assume it'll involve Baron Mordo. If Marvel follows their previous practice, they may already have found the man I would love to see in the role: Oscar Isaac. Remember that Tom Hiddleston found his role as Loki while testing for Thor and Lee Pace auditioned for Star-Lord before signing on as Ronan, so I wouldn't be shocked to see another name off this list in Doctor Strange, and damn would Isaac make an intriguing Mordo.

Marvel has grown to the point where people are going to go see most of their films because they have been so enormously successful; however, if you have a movie with Farrell and Isaac headlining it, that certainly won't hurt box office draws. Given Sneider's claims that Farrell is one of the front-runners for the role, I'm very hopeful that it won't be long before Farrell, who will star in Season 2 of HBO's True Detective, which will certainly help with publicity, joins the cast and gets the ball rolling!

What are your thoughts about this long-developing casting story?!