One of the biggest ongoing questions surrounding the Avengers franchise is the potential involvement of Dr. Strange, a dude who messes around with space-magic sh*t, and he sometimes helps the Avengers out. A lot of folks, myself included, have thought Benedict Cumberbatch might be down to play Strange, but a rumor has emerged in the last few days that Marvel is in fact in talks with Viggo Mortensen to play the doctor, who will appear in Thor: The Dark World (filming just got under way this week in England), in a one-off appearance kind of like Hawkeye’s in Thor.
I’m mixed on this possibility. On the one hand, Mortensen is a really good actor whom I can easily picture as Strange, on the other hand, at fifty-three Mortensen would be by far the oldest of the “fighting” characters (Samuel L. Jackson doesn’t count—all he’s done to date is point guns at things and Stand Around, Looking Cool). It’s an ageist argument, I know, but women are regularly subjected to the same thing in terms of shelf life for playing romantic parts, et cetera, so I have no problem saying there comes a point when even the fittest man is simply too old to be believable in action roles (I’m looking at you, Tom Cruise). And age is something that Marvel is conscious of, as RDJ closes in on fifty and two other Avengers, Jeremy Renner and Mark Ruffalo, are already into their forties.
But the real intrigue comes in over money. Marvel is famous for their low-balling upfront talent deals, and Mortensen will and has exited projects if he isn’t getting “his due”. With Strange being one of the limbo characters—definitely going to have a place in future Avengers’ movies but is not guaranteed one of his own—I can’t imagine Marvel would be willing to fork over the good money just now. Will the lure of potential Avengers 2 bonuses be enough for Mortensen? Or will Marvel have to play hard ball with an actor?
I’m not going to lie—I can live without Viggo Mortensen in the Marvel universe. The fanboys are salivating already but I have to force myself to like him in movies. I’ve got too much real-world experience there that left a bad taste in my mouth (like copper and battery acid) to be able to just enjoy him on screen. Sometimes, you’re really, truly, better off not meeting them.