Given the cloud of secrecy that surrounds each and every Marvel Studios property while in development, there are bound to be unconfirmed rumors about almost every major aspect of their upcoming films—particularly in the casting department. The studio is currently filling out its Phase Three slate, and while Ant-Man is the first film out of the gate in July 2015 followed by Captain America 3 in May 2016, we then have the Doctor Strange movie on July 8, 2016. Marvel recently signed Scott Derrickson to direct the mystical comics adaptation, and in keeping with the rumor tradition, speculation has run rampant as to who will fill the title role.
After rounds of shortlists and cryptic comments with regards to who will inhabit the character, the trades reported in mid-July that Joaquin Phoenix was finally in negotiations to star in the film. It’s been over a month since that time and there still hasn’t been confirmation from Marvel’s end, so the speculation machine kicked up again recently with word going around that Jack Huston is now “under consideration” for the part. However, we’re hearing there’s absolutely no truth to that rumor, as Phoenix’s deal is currently being finalized. More after the jump.
Despite rumors to the contrary, we’re hearing that Phoenix is absolutely still in line to play Doctor Strange in the Marvel adaptation, with our source telling us that his contract is essentially at the 1 yard line, about to pass into the endzone. Though some believed the length of time it’s taken for Phoenix to finalized his deal was a sign that things might have gone south, it makes sense that an actor of Phoenix’s caliber and temperament would want to ensure that his Marvel contract doesn’t restrict his creative freedom to take on other projects outside the MCU.
While Samuel L. Jackson signed a nine-picture deal with Marvel in the days of the first Iron Man, subsequent actor contracts have varied in length; Chris Evans, for instance, only signed for six films. It’s unclear what amount of options Phoenix’s contract will entail, but he’s someone who is unpredictable in his career choices so he no doubt wants to make sure he’ll still be able to take significant chunks of time out of his schedule to work with filmmakers like Paul Thomas Anderson and Spike Jonze in addition to his Marvel duties.
But make no mistake: this is a huge get for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Phoenix is a phenomenal actor with three Oscar nominations under his belt, so he brings a serious degree of clout to the MCU. Though some thought him a strange fit for a comic book adaptation, the actor previously mulled over the possibility of joining the burgeoning DC Universe as Lex Luthor in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice fresh off his tremendous performance in Her. However, Phoenix will be making his superhero debut with Marvel instead in their Doctor Strange movie. Expect official confirmation from Marvel’s end soon.