Earlier today, news broke that Benedict Cumberbatch is in final negotiations to play Doctor Strange in the character’s 2016 Marvel Studios solo film. While this is partly a relief because this puts an end to all the casting rumors, Marvel recruiting Cumberbatch is a huge win. Within the past couple years, thanks to projects like Sherlock and Star Trek Into Darkness, he’s been propelled to full-blown movie stardom. His was one of the names that kept popping up during the slew of casting articles, while some may have hoped that an actor like Joaquin Phoenix or Keanu Reeves took the role, Cumberbatch has more than enough supporters backing him as the first live-action feature version of the Sorcerer Supreme.
Although Doctor Strange is not as familiar to mainstream audiences as characters like Iron Man or Captain America, Marvel has proven that they can take obscure characters and popularize them to unimaginable levels. With Cumberbatch playing the role, not only will he be an important superhero, but he’ll be an important player in the MCU in years to come. This is why.
Marvel Needs His CharismaNo matter what role he’s playing, Cumberbatch brings a unique charm to his performances. Whether it’s the calculating demeanor of Sherlock Holmes or the intensity of Khan, he is often the high point of any project he’s in. Off-camera he’s just as likable, giving great answers in interviews and expressing enthusiasm for each project he’s involved with. You never feel like he’s just cashing it in for a quick payday; he really cares about the roles he takes.
Marvel Studios has a variety of talented actors at its disposal, but few match the charisma of Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Pratt, the former responsible for kicking off the MCU and the latter scene stealing at every opportunity in Guardians of the Galaxy. Cumberbatch is one of those few actors who can go toe-to-toe with them both on-screen and behind-the-scenes. Just picture him engaging in witty repartee with Tony Stark and Peter Quill in the inevitable climactic team-up move, or giving snarky answers and witty retorts alongside both his co-stars and fellow Marvel heroes at the press junkets. Also, considering that Downey doesn’t have many movies left on his contract (unless he renegotiates), Cumberbatch’s Strange can take over as the MCU’s leading figure with a unique personality.
He’ll Bring His Fanbase To The MCUWhether it’s from Sherlock, Star Trek Into Darkness, The Hobbit movies or even Tinker Tailor Solider Spy, Cumberbatch has fans from all backgrounds, commonly referred to as "Cumberbitches." Not all of these fans are necessarily passionate about the MCU, but it’s a guarantee that nearly all of them will watch his first big screen outing as Doctor Strange. His die-hard fans will surely swarm the theaters the midnight of release and wait with barely-contained excitement alongside the Marvel fans who have been looking forward to Doctor Strange making his MCU debut. When the two fanbases are combined, they could become an intense force to be reckoned with. Depending on how things go, Cumberbatch fans may be trading in their Sherlock coats for Doctor Strange cloaks... though, those perhaps won’t be quite as fashionable.
He’s Capable Of Playing Intellectual And Action RolesDoctor Strange is a character who is not just intelligent, but knee-deep in danger on a regular basis. Fortunately, Cumberbatch has plenty of experience with both intellectual and action roles backing him on any endeavor he may experience in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Included among his cerebral characters are the socially inept Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock, Wikileaks hacker Julian Assange in The Fifth Estate and mathematician Alan Turing in the upcoming The Imitation Game. On the blockbuster side of things, he took on Captain James Kirk as Khan in Star Trek Into Darkness and delved into performance capture playing Smaug and the Necromancer in the second and third The Hobbit movies. Marvel covered all their bases hiring him. He’ll be able to embody the thoughtfulness of Strange while looking cool manipulating magic against otherworldly forces. Surely I’m not the only one imagining him levitating cross-legged casting fiery spells right now, right?
He’ll Make An Effective Leader Into The Supernatural WorldWe’ve seen many weird things occur in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, from men who turn into green giants to a guy who can shoot lightning from his hammer. However, Doctor Strange will be our introduction to the world of magic and the supernatural in this universe - which coukd eventually pave the way for introducing weirder characters like Ghost Rider and Blade. Much like Tony Stark is the main figure for the real/natural world and Peter Quill is the main figure for the cosmic world, Cumberbatch’s Strange will be the lead man in the mystical side of the Marvel world. Whether directly or indirectly, every supernatural event that happens will connect back to him. Cumberbatch is an excellent choice to take on the leader role. His commanding presence will inspire any followers he takes on, and like his role in the Illuminati in the comics, he’ll eventually become the primary individual who people will turn to on all things magic. If Marvel really wanted to take full advantage of Cumberbatch’s talents, they might make him something analogous to the Nick Fury of the magical world. He would have his own movie here and there while cameoing in other projects.
He Wouldn’t Have Signed On For Just A Minor RoleWhen an actor joins the MCU as a superhero, they’re not just signing on for one movie. There are multiple pictures written into every contract, and there is no reason to expect that this deal is any different. What’s more, Benedict Cumberbatch may not have been a household name five years ago, but now he’s a fairly well-known star. Given this, it’s hard to imagine Marvel would offer him anything less than an incredibly important part in Phase Three and beyond. Benedict knows that signing on is a huge commitment, especially with Sherlock still a priority for him, but whatever Marvel has planned impressed him enough that he wanted in on the action. As Strange, Cumberbatch will surely have an important presence in the Marvel universe, and surely that’s a big enough reason to join... well, that and a gigantic paycheck.