It finally feels like Phase 2 is starting to rev its engines for a mystical takeoff, especially with the news that Justin Theroux is somehow involved in Marvel Studios’ Dr. Strange feature in Phase 3.
It’s obvious I have a very deep and abiding love for Dr. Strange for anyone who reads my articles with any regularity. I’ve given the prospect of a Dr. Strange feature film a lot of thought. A lot of thought.
With that in mind, even if Justin Theroux ends up only working on the script (after all, he wrote Iron Man 2), there are plenty of other actors out there who would make a great Dr. Strange. Here’s who I’d put in the running for a potential Dr. Stephen Strange.
Viggo’s name comes up every time I write about Dr. Strange. There’s no question about his ability to ihabit the persona of the primary protector of Earth. If you take the world-weary gravitas of Aragorn, the kick-ass-ness of Aragorn, the mystical understanding of… uh, Aragorn, and just a tiny splash of Sigmund Freud, you could shake it together, dress it in a sharp suit, and voila! Stephen Strange. Granted, he’d be on the older end of the acceptable spectrum, but his intelligent look, easy confidence, and award-winning acting chops would keep the character grounded. He comes with a pretty heavy price tag, though. Although Marvel conceivably has money to burn, they probably wont put it all on the Sorcerer Supreme unless they’re sure he’s a hit.
Yeah, yeah. I know. Dr. McDreamy. But, hey, he’s a guy’s guy; he even races cars in his spare time. Stephen Strange was a man who arguably had it all before his enlightenment into all things occult: Brains, fame, cash, ladies, and an ego the size of a planet. Dempsey exuded all of these things at one point his career. That said, I think his potential to go from narcissistic materialist to altruistic disciple of the Ancient one is what makes him a viable candidate for Master of the Mystic Arts. He’s a recognizable face with skills to boot. He’s not an A-lister, per se, so he’s probably within Marvel’s price range. Plus, he actually wants to play the part.
Some people still can’t look at this guy without mentally slapping a Superman costume on him. People, his Superman Returns days are long gone. And that’s if they recognize him at all. Still, he’s done some really great stuff since then. His ability to be cool and diabolical as one of the Evil Exes in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. or doing supernatural action in Dylan Dog: Dead of Night prove that he’s still a fun, relatable guy. What really makes me want to see him as our favorite dimensional protector, however, is his potential to go totally balls-the-wall with the role. If he learned to play bass just for Scott Pilgrim, imagine what he might do to play Dr. Strange. Routh is a real fanboy and no stranger to making the rounds at cons, so we could rest assured that he would keep it authentic. So what if he’s relatively young? Let’s be realistic: Marvel will very likely skew the character a bit younger and he is an ideal mix of youth and experience. Routh would be a bargain if he were to be put in the role.
Orlando, Orlando, Orlando. When is he going to get that movie? You know, the one that really puts him out there? No, I’m not talking about Kingdom of Heaven or Elizabethtown. I’m talking about a movie that he can hold on his own; one that’s totally Jack Sparrow-free. We know he can act, but he needs something that’s his vehicle. Lord of the Rings,Pirates of the Caribbean and The Three Musketeers prove that he can do action, but he needs to lose the ensemble cast. He’d be a relatively big name with a matching fanbase that would come at a not-unreasonable price. The only caveat I foresee is that a big-name director would have to be attached for him to consider coming on board a comic-based project.
Speaking of Jack Sparrow, how can I not include him in my list? Yes, he’s been mentioned by you fans out there. After all, he gets linked to virtually every major character role under the sun. I know you’ve been fantasizing about a Depp cameo in The Avengers 3 as Strange with Iron Man. It’s a given that Depp would pull it off in his sleep. The real question here is, do we really want him to do it? I don’t think we do; people mention him because he’s a reliable choice. He looks the part when he rolls out of bed in the morning. He’s got the skill and really commits to his roles. By throwing his hat into the ring we are basically assuring ourselves that we wouldn’t get a bad Dr. Strange. But, would we get the best one? Maybe not. We’d likely be getting “Johnny Depp as Dr. Strange”. Price-wise, if Marvel agreed to the foregone conclusion of a Depp-level paycheck, it would be more insurance levied in his name rather than the draw of the character. That would be doing real Dr. Strange fans a disservice.
Some of you out there might think that he’s a wild card. “He was Batman already!” you shriek. Yeah, but he was this Batman; I say he deserves a superhero exorcism of sorts. Tabula rasa. I don’t think it’s such a far-fetched idea to have Clooney as the mystical master. If Robert Downey Jr. can be Tony Stark, why can’t we have George as Strange? He looks like a canon-obliging Stephen Strange on an average day, anyhow. Plus, he’s no shrinking violet when it comes to getting tossed around. In fact, I could see him injecting some of that puckish humor into what we don’t want to become a pastiche. He’d be keeping it real, so to speak. Clooney’s a busy man, however, and between acting and directing he doesn’t come cheap. If Marvel ponied up that kind of dough, much like in Depp’s case, they’d likely be banking on his name and not the actual character. Not a solid strategy, in my book.
You’ve asked for it comment after comment, and… I totally agree. Joe Manganiello would make an awesome Stephen Strange. We all know what he’s best known for. And then there’s the not so small matter of often bringing down the house on True Blood. That’s supernatural right there. He’s also no stranger to the odd superhero movie rumor, either. He was a contender for Man of Steel, and is often linked in rumors to the impending Batman Reboot. He has the look down pat, and if Mark Ruffalo can be a nuclear physicist-turned-Hulk, then why can’t Joe be a damaged neurosurgeon-turned-occultist? Manganiello’s star has been on the rise for some time, but he’s been typecast as the sexy beefcake. Given the opportunity he could find his breakout role right here. His asking price wouldn’t be a budget-breaker, either. In fact, he’sthis fangirl’s dream Dr. Strange.
Ventimiglia does not get enough credit. I should only have to pull out his Heroes card here. Superpower-mimic Peter Petrelli is perhaps some of the best prep for the Dr. Strange role that any actor could get. Take it one step further and check out his look in the upcoming slick-and-savvy vampire flick Kiss of the Damned. Sure, he would be a younger Strange, but then again, Stephen was a world-renowned neurosurgeon by the time he was 30. What I see in Ventimiglia is the potential for some inner innocence. We all know what a self-centered egotist Strange is before the Ancient One helped the scales fall from his eyes, but there is the opportunity for something softer and more innocent to break through. It could humanize him a great deal and smooth off those jagged edges of his tormented soul, once he chooses to protect the world from the esoteric dangers it faces. If Ventimiglia had the chance to take on Strange, it would round out an already impressive range for an actor who arguably has the best yet to come.
Honorable Mention: Hugh Laurie
Oh, come on, don’t tell me you didn’t think of it for half a second. It’s almost too easy. The man oozes intelligence, wit, moral ambiguity and general brilliant doctorness. It’s true that he would just be playing Dr. Gregory House but with magic, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But how many brilliant and psycholoically bruised doctors can the man possibly portray in a career? I have another, even bigger qualm about this possible casting: I can’t see Hugh Laurie doing action.