Joaquin Phoenix never "officially" was in the running to play Doctor Stephen Strange in Marvel’s planned standalone adventure – but now, he’s officially out.

Deadline goes with the news that talks between Marvel and Joaquin Phoenix are "kaput," forcing the studio to go back to "square one" in the casting process on the feature. The star of The Master and the upcoming Inherent Vice has had his name attached to the role of the Sorcerer Supreme since Comic-Con, at least. That was when we first started reporting that Phoenix was the man in Marvel’s crosshairs – to the point where it was speculated that the actor could take the stage in Hall H during the vaunted Marvel panel and surprise everyone with the casting announcement.

Alas, it wasn’t meant to be, but the story always remained that Joaquin Phoenix was the guy Marvel wanted to step into the cape of Doctor Strange on a movie that we think is going to be in theaters in July 2016. There are no reasons given in the Deadline piece as to why conversations between the actor and the comic book studio fell apart, other than the fact that Phoenix doesn’t feel like a "comic-book" type of actor. That’s kind of bogus, though, as Marvel has cast serious thespians in numerous roles over the years, from Robert Redford and Michael Douglas to Anthony Hopkins. Yes, they played supporting roles. But they still took comic-book roles (for moderate paychecks, no doubt).


And so, we might be back to the starting point when it comes to who is going to play Doctor Strange in Marvel’s standalone movie. Deadline says not to put too much stock into that rumor about Ethan Hawke wanting the role, despite the fact that he has worked with Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson in the past (on the horror movie Sinister). Instead, Deadline runs through the names that were on top of a Marvel wish list in the past – or, underneath Joaquin Phoenix, after all. That list included (and may still include) Tom Hardy, Benedict Cumberbatch and Jared Leto.

Phoenix, for his part, will next be seen on screen in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice, playing a vagabond California detective in what looks like a neon-noir classic. And while it screens at the New York Film Festival, the search fro a proper Doctor Strange continues.

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