UPDATE: The Imitation Game star Benedict Cumberbatch has finalized his deal to play Doctor Strange, giving Marvel’s Kevin Feige the distinction of having another world class actor to play in his superhero sandbox. Deadline revealed back in late October that Marvel had set its sights on the British actor who has become an awards season front runner for his The Imitation Game performance as Alan Turing, the genius who cracked the Nazi’s unbreakable Enigma Code, shortening WWII by two years. He was tragically prosecuted for being homosexual and chemically castrated, in one of the great injustices of the 20th Century.
EARLIER EXCLUSIVE, Oct. 27, 11:26 am: Marvel has finally found its Doctor Strange. I’m hearing Benedict Cumberbatch is the studio’s choice for the superhero pic, and negotiations are about to begin. The news comes after talks with Joaquin Phoenix around the time of Comic-Con went south, and Marvel went back to the drawing board. With names like Jared Leto and Tom Hardy also in the mix, this is obviously a coveted role. I expect this deal to make.
Cumberbatch is in the Oscar hunt this year for The Imitation Game, the Alan Turing biopic that the Weinstein Co is priming for a November 21 release. His hot streak has included winning the Emmy for playing Sherlock Holmes on the BBC/PBS hit Sherlock.
Phoenix never had a deal, and Marvel quickly got into it with other actors to play Doctor Strange in a free-standing film.
Scott Derrickson is directing Doctor Strange and Jon Spaihts is writing the script for the pic (the first draft was penned by Thomas Dean Donnelly and Joshua Oppenheimer). Doctor Strange was hatched by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko during that Marvel Comics heyday of the early 1960s. He’s a neurosurgeon who becomes Sorcerer Supreme, protecting Earth against magical and mystical threats with powers of sorcery, mysticism, and martial arts. Marvel’s Kevin Feige is producing.