After a long, rumor-filled casting process—easily a top-three roughest go round— Marvel has finally announced their Dr. Strange and it is, for real, Benedict Cumberbatch. He’s been rumored for years—I first mentioned it in 2012—but the timing never worked out, and Marvel would go look at other options, coming closest with Joaquin Phoenix a few months ago. After that deal fell apart, though, they circled back to Cumberbatch. But again, timing was a problem. As of their big press day in October, the deal wasn’t done and the studio was still seriously considering other options.
But they did bump Dr. Strange’s release date a few months. Originally scheduled for July 2016, they pushed it back to November to accommodate him, which says a lot about how badly they wanted to make this happen. Pushing the release date back allows them to put off filming Dr. Strange until the late fall 2015, after he concludes his run as Hamlet in London’s West End. It does make for a tight production schedule, though. Marvel operates at a breakneck pace, but this is the absolute limit of how fast they can work—they’ll have eleven months to deliver Dr. Strange. They can do it—they turned around Guardians of the Galaxy in eleven months, and are doing the same for Ant-Man—but it isn’t easy.
Which is why I don’t tolerate complaining from Marvel actors. Studio employees have been known to work eighteen hour days, seven days a week, for MONTHS to meet these production deadlines. And yet, they don’t really complain. They’ll say it’s “tough” to keep up sometimes, but they’re so proud of the final result that it’s worth it. (Unlike, say, the folks at Sony where a hacked document containing anonymous employee complaints reveals that making Adam Sandler movies is slowly destroying people’s souls.) Let’s hope The Batch is of the RDJ/Mark Ruffalo team-player mindset and doesn’t take for granted how hard so many people work in order to make him look cool on screen.
As for the other guy they were seriously considering, I really don’t mean to be a gossip tease, but when I asked what happened, I was reminded that Dr. Strange is not the only part Marvel is casting. It’s not at all unusual for them to circle an actor for a while before finding the right role. They really liked this guy. He’s still on their wish list.