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With almost a year until its release, Doctor Strange has already built an all star cast featuring Benedict Cumberbatch as the eponymous hero, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Baron Mordo, Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One, and Rachel McAdams reportedly playing an iteration of Night Nurse. As the movie inches closer to production, another actor is close to joining the project. Steve Jobs'' Michael Stuhlbarg is being looked at for a key role in Marvel’s magical 2016 entry.
Stuhlbarg is currently in negotiations to join the Sorcerer Supreme’s solo movie, which begins shooting next month in London. THR was the first to break the news, but shortly afterwards, Variety reported that Stuhlbarg is going play Nicodemus West, a "rival scientist of Strange." Assuming that this character report is later verified by Marvel, this is a possible indicator that his adversarial relationship with Strange in later years will be used as inspiration for the movie.
In the comics, West was the doctor who operated on Stephen Strange’s hands after he was involved in a car accident. The procedure left Strange with severe nerve damage, meaning that he was no longer able to practice surgery. Feeling enormous guilt and desperate to make amends, West tracked Strange to the Ancient One’s Sanctorum in Tibet, and after the elderly magic user saw West was dealing with his own pain, he offered to teach him the mystic arts. However, West left before he completed his studies, and his first attempt to heal someone with magic resulted in them dying. This led West to abandon magic and take up a position as CEO at a pharmaceutical company, though he would call upon his magic to fight the Sorcerer Supreme in the miniseries Doctor Strange: The Oath.
It’s possible that this rivalry between the two characters in Doctor Strange is simply a friendly one, and West will still be the person who works on Strange’s hands. However, going off what happened to West in the comics, I wonder if the MCU might change things so that he’s the one who’s responsible for Strange’s accident, leading to the future Sorcerer Supreme going on his journey and delving into the world of spells and mysticism. Not that such an action would make West as dangerous as Baron Mordo or the demons from other realms, but it would still paint him as a clear bad guy.
Michael Stuhlbarg was most recently seen playing Andy Hertzfeld in Steve Jobs, and you can catch him later this week as Edward G. Robinson in Trumbo. His other notable credits include playing Arnold Rothstein in the HBO series Boardwalk Empire, Larry Gopnik in A Serious Man, and Griffin in Men in Black 3.
Doctor Strange will work its magic when it hits theaters on November 4, 2016.