POLL: Is Dr. Strange in line to replace Tony Stark as the MCU's new big cheese? Who Should Play Him?
Rumours circulating around an upcoming 'big announcement' at Comic-Con International imply that Tony Stark is ready to pass the baton to Dr Stephen Strange in Marvel/Disney's bid to maintain their lead in the superhero box office race! Let's VOTE and discuss....
Producer and head honcho of Marvel Studios Kevin Feige, whose productions have collectively grossed over $8.3 billion, has made no secret of his love for Dr Strange.
In January, speaking to MTV, Feige said,
"Doctor Strange, which I’ve been talking about for years, is definitely one of them. He’s a great, original character, and he checks the box off this criteria that I have: he’s totally different from anything else we have, just like Guardians of the Galaxy. He’s totally different from anything we’ve done before, as is Ant-Man, which keeps us excited."
Now, websites such as ScienceFiction.com are reporting that Feige is not just eager to make the slightly obscure Steve Ditko creation into a film for Marvel's post-Avengers 2 'Phase-3' slate, but he is considering using the Master of the Mystic Arts as the centre-piece around which the future of the Marvel Universe will pivot, similar to what they accomplished with Iron Man/Tony Stark!
What Feige needs to be, and is surely, considering is that a massive part of Iron Man's surprising box office success is due to the charisma of actor Robert Downey Jr, and the stroke of genius that went into John Favreau's casting of Downey in that part.
Whoever ends up taking the role of Stephen Strange, and thus the responsibility of leading Marvel's films into a new era of projected success, will have to not just reproduce the magic which Downey produced as Stark, but also commit himself to a long-term project at Marvel. We know Marvel take their projects seriously, as evidenced by the nine-picture deal Sam Jackson signed to play Nick Fury. This, or an even longer deal, is probably what the potential new superstar is looking at!
The initial rumours around Dr. Strange casting were pointing at two actors chiefly: Patrick Dempsey and Johnny Depp.
Dempsey has reportedly been speaking openly about his eagerness to play the role. He has the appearance for Dr. Strange, and his solid work on Grey's Anatomy and the fan base that comes with such a program would suggest he could make a good choice. He's definitely overcome whatever stigma may have been attached to him after his initial career as a teen idol in the films of John Hughes. But my reservation about Dempsey is his age. At 47, he is only one year younger than Downey is now, and I would consider that to be a liability when considering him for a possible nine or ten-picture deal, akin to Jackson's. I think Marvel need an actor that can grow into the role and really become synonymous with the character, and not think of Marvel as a stepping stone to other, more serious work.
Depp makes a better candidate for the role of Strange, in my view. His acting ability is beyond question. Depp's performance as a skeptical book collector in a supernatural world in Polanski's The Ninth Gate serves as a perfect demo reel for the role, much like Christian Bale's turn as Patrick Bateman in American Psycho showed his potential as a cracked Bruce Wayne. Depp also already has strong ties with Disney, after working on hugely successful productions of Pirates of the Caribbean, Alice in Wonderland, and the forthcoming Lone Ranger. But at 50 years old, and even bigger question mark must be considered over his appropriateness for the commitment factor.
All this said, other actors must be considered for this potentially pivotal role. Jake Gillenhall has been circling comic movies for years, and was indeed verging on taking over as Peter Parker when Toby McGuire's relationship with SONY was on the rocks. It's hard to say what Gillenhall's relationship is with Disney after the poorly received Prince of Persia adaptation, and Marvel may not see him as the most effective box office draw.
Another veteran of the comic book movie genre is James Franco. Franco's performances as Harry Osbourne are universally praised, and his career has progressed since those days. Franco is already headlining a Disney Wizard franchise, with Sam Raimi's successful Oz the Great and Powerful approaching the $500 million mark theatrically. Franco is 35 years old right now, and would be approaching the big four-oh if he was to slot himself into Marvel's plans for Phase 3. Who knows if Franco has factored into Marvel's thoughts, but he seems to fit the talent and youth requirements for the part, with just enough gravitas in his acting to carry the burden.
But what we mustn't neglect to consider is how unlikely Robert Downey seemed for the part when he was initially cast. It was Feige and Favreau's ability to see Downey's x-factor despite his lack of prior franchise success, and the risk of great failure that created such a surprise when the movie became the hit it was to become.
Someone who falls into the right age range, and has the appearance for the role and acting chops to spare is Joseph Fiennes. But Fiennes may be too recognizable, and also seems to prefer splitting his time between films, TV, and stage.
I think Marvel is going to be thinking outside the box once again with this project, and possibly surprise us like they did by casting Chris Pratt as the heroic Starlord in their now-filming Guardians of the Galaxy project.
For me the man to play Dr Stephen Strange on screen is Bradley Cooper.
Cooper is 38 years old, which means he'll be around 41 when the film comes out. The same age Downey was when he began his work as Iron Man. Cooper has a background in comedic, improvisational films, just like Downey, but has also added Oscar-nominated to his resume thanks to his fine work in last year's Silver Linings Playbook. He also has some small claim to fame in the action/sci-fi genre with his successful Limitless turning over a $27 million budget into a hugely impressive final worldwide gross of $161 million!
Now's the time to cast your votes for who would be the perfect Doctor Stephen Strange, and also be sure to "thumbs up" and tweet this article, and share your opinions in the discussion thread below!
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