Benedict Cumberbatch triumphantly made his first visit to San Diego Comic-Con on Thursday morning, though he wasn’t supporting Sherlock, The Hobbit, Star Trek or any other of the geek-friendly projects to which he has contributed. Instead, Cumberbatch introduced screaming fans to his new animated character, Classified, from November’s Penguins of Madagascar. But before he could elaborate on that, he had to address a prevalent Marvel rumor… which he did in hilarious fashion.
Cumberbatch and John Malkovich took part in an Hall H panel on behalf of DreamWorks Animation’s Penguins of Madagascar. And while fans participating in the Q-and-A session were instructed NOT to ask any Sherlock questions, one girl found a way around the obstacle to ask a Marvel question. Knowing that Benedict Cumberbatch’s name has been attached to the role of Doctor Strange in a standalone Marvel movie, the lady asked Malkovich and Cumberbatch which "classic comic book hero" role they would love to play in a future film.
The pregnant pause Cumberbatch held spoke volumes. In the silence, the screams from the floor of Hall H rang out as hopeful fans yelled, "Doctor Strange!" Apparently that rumor really has made the rounds, with many speculating that Cumberbatch’s presence in San Diego suggests that he’ll be on stage on Saturday in Hall H when Marvel maps out its Phase 3 plans.
After John Malkovich joked that he’d like to play Lois Lane on screen, Benedict Cumberbatch continued to hold his tongue (knowing that he had the crowd in the palm of his hand), before answering:
Nurse Normal? Wait for it. Wait for it. Let the penny drop. … OK, that’s a joke about Doctor Strange. Batman, I suppose?"
Obviously, Benedict Cumberbatch isn’t able to let the cat out of the bag regarding whether or not he will be playing Doctor Strange in a Marvel movie. That news will be reserved for Marvel’s panel on Saturday. But it was extremely entertaining to see how he played with the moment, smiling at the recognition of the screams from the crowd wanting him to play Doctor Strange on screen.
The odds, I believe, are about 50-50 in his favor. The fact of the matter is that Benedict Cumberbatch is an extremely busy guy, who has Sherlock contracts and a budding film career. Does he want that career to be tied up in Marvel movies? Maybe. We’ll know more by the end of the weekend. But by the reaction on the panel this morning, Cumberbatch knows that we know he’s in the conversation – and man, did he have a LOT of fun with that reality.