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Now that Benedict Cumberbatch has been officially cast as Doctor Strange, Marvel is focusing their attention on finding the rest of the 2016 blockbuster’s cast. Daniel Bruhl, whose character is debuting in Captain America: Civil War, is rumored to be the main villain in Doctor Strange, and now a new report states that Marvel has its sights on Morgan Freeman, Bill Nighy and Ken Watanabe to possibly play the man who taught the titular character all he knows about sorcery.
According to Latino Review's report, Morgan Freeman, Bill Nighy and Ken Watanabe are being looked at to play The Ancient One in Doctor Strange. As with many early casting rumors, these names might be subject to change, and since the film isn’t due for release until November 4, 2016, it may be many months until we learn who is playing Strange’s mentor. While Nighy has yet to star in a comic book film, Freeman and Watanabe have previous experience with the genre. Freeman starred as Lucius Fox in the Christopher Nolan Dark Knight trilogy, and Watanabe appeared as Ra’s al Ghul’s decoy in Batman Begins. What’s interesting is that despite The Ancient One being an Asian character from Tibet in the comics, Marvel is looking at actors of different ethnicities for the role. Race changing happens in comic book adaptations from time to time, so Marvel might be trying to think outside the box for this character.
In the comics, Dr. Stephen Strange traveled to the East to seek a cure for his hands, which had been damaged in a car accident. The Ancient One initially turned Strange away because of his amoral nature. Strange later learned of an attack planned on The Ancient One by Baron Mordo, but was unable to reveal the plot due to Mordo’s magic. Determined, Strange committed himself to The Ancient One’s magical teachings, which not only resulted in Mordo’s plan being foiled, but Strange inheriting the title Sorcerer Supreme from his master. The Ancient One continued to advise Strange over the years, both in the land of the living and in spirit form after he was killed.
Earlier this year, it was suggested that Doctor Strange would not delve into Strange’s origin story, so it’s unclear how big of role The Ancient One would play in the film. One possibility is that like in the comics, Strange’s master will give him counsel from the afterlife. On the other hand, the story might change to include flashbacks of Strange’s tutorage, so we get brief glimpses of The Ancient One teaching the former surgeon the mystical arts. Considering the important role he plays in both Strange’s life and his nemesis Mordo's, The Ancient One is sure to be a big player in Doctor Strange, regardless of who’s playing him.