The MCU is full of iconic heroes. From Iron Man to Black Panther, the list of superheroes is ever growing, and Marvel execs continue to bring as many live-actions as possible. While some decisions about who gets to play the hero are easy, like Robert Downey Jr. playing Tony Stark, other casting choices aren’t so simple. For example, there were over 10 actors considered for a Spider-Man movie before Tom Holland was finally cast. This is the case with many heroes within the MCU, including Dr. Strange.
Updated February 27, 2023: This article has been updated with more details on the different actors that have been considered for Doctor Strange, including more names and future updates related to the MCU.
Doctor Strange is set to be a major part of the MCU’s Multiverse Saga, with his latest movie Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness It ends in a cliffhanger that seems to be set up Avengers: Secret Wars. Fans are eagerly awaiting news of the next appearance of Doctor Strange, including the possibility of a third movie. While it’s hard to imagine anyone else as Doctor Strange now, with how long Cumberbatch has played the role, it’s important to remember that the Doctor Strange we all know and love could be portrayed by a different actor. This would have led to not only a different portrayal of Stephen Strange but the absence of Benedict Cumberbatch in the MCU. Here are nine actors who were almost cast as Doctor Strange.
9 Joaquin Phoenix
Known for his performance in movies like joker And wrestlerAnd Joaquin Phoenix He is a very revered actor. Phoenix was actually the first actor Marvel sought out to play Doctor Strange. Reportedly, the deal is getting joker The actor’s star as Strange almost passed out until Phoenix changed his mind upon realizing how much energy the role would take.
Plus, Phoenix also wasn’t too keen on the idea that he’d have to commit to starring in several versions of the MCU over the years. Ultimately, the actor turned down the role, preferring to focus on standalone efforts rather than Marvel films, even though the actor does enjoy Marvel films.
8 Jared Leto
From one joker actor to another, Jared Leto He was considered for the role of Doctor Strange after winning an Oscar for his performance in the film Dallas Buyers Club. Leto ended up not playing Strange and instead took on the titanic task of playing the Joker suicide squadwhich was in production at the same time as Dr. Strange. Leto has long been a favorite for superhero projects as the actor was also considered for Green Lantern in 2011.
After the disappointing reaction to his role as the Joker, he subsequently became his star Morbiusanother Marvel character in the Sony Spider-Man Universe. Morbius It was a critical and box office bomb, so considering his comic book performances weren’t well received (and all the allegations are against Leto), it’s possible he never played Doctor Strange.
7 Edgar Ramirez
Edgar Ramirez worked with Dr. Strange Director Scott Derrickson for the movie Deliver us from evilwhich opened in 2014. This was the same year that Derrickson signed on to management Dr. Strange And when Marvel Studios began the casting process for the movie. Ramirez reportedly spoke with Derrickson about the part, but nothing came of those discussions. Ramirez has yet to join the MCU, and with Phases 5 and 6 yet to introduce more characters, there are plenty of parts to play.
6 Ryan Gosling
Ryan Gosling He became a household name in Hollywood. Of his outstanding performance in the classic romance Diaries To the latest version of the police copy in Blade Runner 2049Gosling has proven his worth as an actor who can take on any role.
After Phoenix turned down the role, Gosling was another high-profile star Marvel considered for the role. There was early concept art that showed what Gosling looked almost like Doctor Strange. While none of these paid off, had he been given these roles, we might not have gotten his phenomenal performance in La La Land or nice guys. The actor has now expressed interest in joining the MCU as Ghost Rider.
5 Ethan Hawke
phoenix style, Ethan Hawke He claimed he was so close to landing the role of Stephen Strange, that he was one of the first approached after Phoenix turned down the role. Hook worked with Dr. Strange Director Scott Derrickson evilso it only makes sense that the director and actor would want to work together again.
Hawke has stated that he suspects that one of the main reasons he did not get the role was his lack of a fanbase, unlike Benedict Cumberbatch who amassed a fanbase thanks to his performance in the TV series Sherlock. Hawk also stated that his name isn’t a huge draw at the box office and it wouldn’t draw as large an audience as the studio wanted. Hawkeye later joined the MCU as the villain Arthur Harrow in the Disney+ original series Moon Knightand he reunited with Derrickson in the horror film 2022 black phone.
4 Oscar Isaac
In 2014 when Marvel Studios picked up Doctor Strange, Oscar Isaac He has made a name for himself in movies like Inside Llewyn Davis And wildest year And it was to be part of Disney star Wars The sequel trilogy in the role of Poe Dameron. Isaac didn’t get the role of Doctor Strange, but the actor has now played three separate Marvel characters in three different franchises.
First, he played a villain in Apocalypse X-Men: Apocalypse. Then it was a cameo voice Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse As Miguel O’Hara aka Spider-Man 2099, he will reprise his role in Spider-Man: Through the Spider-Verse. He finally joined the MCU in 2022 as the superhero Moon Knight, with many fans excited at the prospect of seeing him cross paths with other superheroes including Doctor Strange.
3 Ewan McGregor
There was a common interest in Ewan McGregor Taking the turn, for obvious reasons. The actor has been a well-respected performer in critically acclaimed films such as trainspotting And Moulin Rouge Also known worldwide as Obi-Wan Kenobi in star Wars prequels. McGregor admitted he was excited about the idea of taking on a superhero persona, a role he hadn’t played before.
When push came to shove, McGregor stated that his lack of comic book knowledge was likely what put him out of the running as he knew so little about the character and the role he plays within the Marvel Universe. McGregor would later take on the role of DC’s Black Mask wild birds.
2 Jake Gyllenhaal
Jake Gyllenhaal He is another person considered for the role of Doctor Strange. With a long history of working on dark films such as Donnie Darko And the enemyTaking on the superhero role would be a bit of a departure for Gyllenhaal, though the actor has previously starred in a potential movie, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.
Gyllenhaal was shortlisted for the role, but he wasn’t too far behind in the casting process. While this was another disappointment for Gyllenhaal, after he almost replaced Tobey Maguire in the 2008 finale Spider-Man 2The actor later joined the MCU in Spider-Man: Far From Homeportraying the character Quentin Beck / Mysterio.
1 Patrick Dempsey
He is best known for his role as Dr. Derek Shepherd AKA McDreamy in the long-running TV series instinct anatomyAnd Patrick Dempsey He carved a name for himself in Hollywood that everyone recognizes. Before his run on the show came to an abrupt and emotional end, Dempsey was looking at returning to films, as he had done in the past, with a particular interest in Dr. Strange.
During the promotional tour for Transformers: Dark of the Moon In 2011, Dempsey expressed interest in playing Doctor Strange. This was even before the release The Avengers, when the Doctor Strange movie had yet to be officially announced. While Dempsey hasn’t been cast as Doctor Strange, and the actor hasn’t even appeared on the studio’s shortlist, he has been in films like Bridget Jones’ baby in 2016 and recently appeared in a sequel fascinated titled frustrated which premieres on Disney+ in 2022.