Normally you need Level 10 S.H.I.E.L.D. clearance to get your hands on a juicy Marvel scoop, but the folks over at Collider must have whispered “Hail Hydra” to the right person at Marvel Studios because they’re reporting that Joaquin Phoenix is in final talks to star in Doctor Strange as Stephen Strange, Marvel’s Sorcerer Supreme. This comes hot on the heels of rumors that Boardwalk Empire’s Jack Huston would be playing Marvel’s mystic, but evidently it was just that: a rumor. Phoenix’s name has been floated around in the Marvel rumor mill as a potential addition to the Scott Derrickson-directed Phase III film since back in mid-July, but it appears now that “the contract is essentially at the 1 yard line, about to pass into the endzone.” For you non sports-fans out there, this means that they’re essentially one arc reactor short of an Iron Man suit, but don’t worry because Tony Stark is slaving away as we speak.
The length of time it’s taken Phoenix to finalize the contract lead many to believe that it would fall through at the last minute, but it seems more likely that the sticking point is related to the number of films for which Phoenix would be contractually obligated. Given Phoenix’s somewhat notorious temperament, it comes as no surprise that he would want to make sure he has the freedom to pursue other projects outside Marvel’s ever-swelling superhero franchises. This isn’t out of the ordinary for Marvel either; to put things in perspective, Samuel L. Jackson signed an nine-picture deal beginning with 2008’s Iron Man, and Chris Evans only signed on with Marvel for six films. You know, one for each Infinity Gem or Stone or whatever the hell you want to call them.
Given Phoenix’s incredible range and acting ability, this seems like a real coup for the Marvel Cinematic Universe as they continue their tradition of dynamic, sometimes unconventional casting choices. After seeing Phoenix’s work in everything from The Master to Gladiator to Walk the Line, I have no doubt in my mind that he’ll be a brilliant choice to play the arrogant surgeon turned master of mysticism. Now, that it’s looking likelier and likelier that Phoenix will be playing Doctor Strange, we can turn our attention to the biggest question in the MCU: who will be playing Wong?
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