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There was once a time when Marvel's Doctor Strange project was the more stable of the two new Phase 3 films in production, as Ant-Man had a cast but no director at the eleventh hour. While that is a rather problematic scenario to be in, it is perhaps even more of a problem when a director has been selected and there's no cast to put your film into action. This is what Scott Derrickson has to contend with at this point, with the role of Doctor Strange still vacant, but down to three big choices: Colin Farrell, Benedict Cumberbatch and Keanu Reeves.
The Wrap has the official betting odds down to three high profile names, though it was four until long time frontrunner Joaquin Phoenix was removed from the running by his representatives. The three names still in play are previously hinted contenders Keanu Reeves and Benedict Cumberbatch, as well as the newly added prospect of Colin Farrell. All three are really good choices, but there can only be one, and we think we know who it will be.
Starting with process of elimination, we wouldn't be surprised to see Colin Farrell's name drop from the running first. With Season 2 of True Detective starting up any day now, as well as no outward interest in superhero tentpoles (at least, outside of his performance as Bullseye in Daredevil), his schedule is not going to be very flexible in the coming year or so. Next on the list is the fence-sitter that we know as Benedict Cumberbatch, as he's also been party to rumors about taking a role in either Batman v. Superman: Dawn Of Justice or Justice League. Add in his theatrical engagement and the impending filming of Sherlock Season 4, and he might not last long on this list either.
Which leaves Neo himself, Keanu Reeves, who seems like the most likely party to take the gig as Marvel's Doctor Strange. Unless John Wick manages to become such a hit that a sequel is automatically greenlit, it could stand to be true that Reeves would have the best availability, and possibly the most interest in taking a long term gig as a Marvel superhero. This is the type of role that helps make comebacks happen, not to mention awarding a healthy, extended pay day.
While this process of elimination is far from scientific, and does not take into account the most assuredly rapid fire talks between each star and their agent, it takes into account everything we know about the actors so far. For all we know, Benedict Cumberbatch could turn his back on DC and take up the cloak for himself, or in equal measure Keanu Reeves might not find himself interested in getting tied down into a comic franchise. The only thing we can say with confidence in accuracy is that Doctor Strange is a severely difficult role to cast, and the world's eyes are going to be watching this matter rather closely, at least until the casting is announced and everyone takes sides. Since he was only mentioned for contention in recent rounds, yet his agent got him on the short list quick as a flash, it's a good bet to assume that Marvel wants Keanu and Keanu wants him back. Way to go, Utah!
Doctor Strange is rumored for a July 8, 2016 release date.