Slightly over a month ago, it seemed that Marvel Studios had finally landed it's lead for it's Doctor Strange film, with everyone from The Hollywood Reporter to Deadline making it sound like Benedict Cumberbatch had signed up to play the Master of the Mystic Arts.
However, it's been over a month now and still no confirmation. Could those all-over-but-the signing headlines look like the genre equivalent of the 1948 "Dewey Defeats Truman" blunder?
USA Today interviewed Cumberbatch earlier this week and said the response from the actor regarding playing Dr. Stephen Strange on the big screen hardly makes it sound like a done deal. “Tell the fanboys it’s still a rumor,” he told them. Which is, of course, both good and bad, it can be taken as a positive sign that negotiations are still going on.
On the other hand, it could be a negative sign THAT NEGOTIATIONS ARE STILL GOING ON and Marvel Studios still does not have it's Doctor Strange!
Marvel Studios really needs to cast the role quickly. We've gone from thinking Joaquin Phoenix might be walking out at San Diego Comic-Con and seeing that crash and burn, to now over a month of thinking another prominent actor has all-but-signed. If talks with Cumberbatch eventually break down, Marvel studios needs to sign Keanu Reeves or Viggo Mortensen or SOMEONE who wants to do the project.
Kevin Feige and co. have a lot riding on Doctor Strange. Feige has said he wants the character to be as important as Robert Downey, Jr.'s Iron Man. The studio has long hinted they want to be less RDJ-centric.
That means Doctor Strange has to be an Event with a capital E, which is hard to do when you don't have a lead in place. Marvel Studios is counting on Doctor Strange opening a whole new corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe - giving fans something different with a supernatural character, the same way Guardians of the Galaxy opened up the cosmic part of their universe.
We are now less than two years away from when Doctor Strange is scheduled to hit the big screen on November 4, 2016. That's the same date as Skull Island and the same month as Sinister Six, Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them and Moana. It is going to need a HUGE marketing effort - and, of course, a great film - to overcome it's obstacles and it's competition. Would be nice to have a lead first.