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Throughout the history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Kevin Feige and his creative team have have been willing to cast actors and actresses you wouldn't normally peg as being up for starring in a comic book vehicle. Robert Downey Jr. and Edward Norton seemed like the furthest choices from playing in the Marvel sandbox, and even with the upcoming Guardians Of The Galaxy we see Glenn Close and Benicio Del Toro building far flung sandcastles for their resumes. Which means that the following rumor shouldn't be that shocking: we might be getting a Doctor Strange franchise with Joaquin Phoenix at the head.
The Wrap has the exclusive scoop that "multiple individuals close to the casting process" are all touting the Academy Award nominated actor as the closest contender to the role. While it's still quite surprising that Mr. Phoenix would be this hotly tipped to be the forerunner in the Doctor Strange race, let's not forget that he was being sought after for the role of Lex Luthor in Batman v. Superman: Dawn Of Justice. As The Wrap is keen to mention in its story, "those talks would not have gotten as far as they did if Phoenix had no interest in doing a comic book movie."
I can practically hear the fans asking questions about Tom Hardy and Benedict Cumberbatch from the other side of the monitor, so let me tell you why those possibilities seem less than likely. Cumberbatch, for starters, flat out told MTV News that he's going to be doing a production of Hamlet in the near future, which pretty much takes him out of contention when matched with any work he may have left on the production and press tour for The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies, as well as any movement that's to be had on Sherlock in the near future.
Tom Hardy, on the other hand, is ramping up to take the lead in a completely different franchise as he's toplining the still developing Splinter Cell adaptation for UbiSoft's film branch. Not to mention, if that isn't his first priority in the near future, you can bet his Elton John biopic, Rocketman surely is. To be fair, choosing between an almost surefire Academy Award nomination or a long term, high visibility gig is a pretty hard choice.
If Joaquin Phoenix's casting in Doctor Strange were a crime, we'd already have motive and opportunity in our investigative corner. However, this is still in the realm of rumor and has not been confirmed by anyone representing Marvel or Mr. Phoenix. Much like that mocked up graphic that's popped up on Facebook "detailing" Marvel's schedule through 2019, this is far from truth until Marvel says otherwise. Tomorrow's Marvel panel at Comic Con will give us more clues, if not a flat out answer. So for now, let's just sit tight and hope we get our minds blown in the near future.