Anghus Houvouras thinks Benedict Cumberbatch should play Marvel’s Sorcerer Supreme…
The fun of writing film columns is when an article generates a discussion about a movie and you come out the other side with a completely different perspective from when you started.
Like all comic book adaptations, the recent speculation about who will play Doctor Strange got the internet discussions a stirring. I had some thoughts on the subject and thought I’d take a moment to analyze some of the more unique actor/director pairings that have stemmed from a series of discussions on a number of popular online websites before revealing my one and final choice for the role of Dr. Stephen Strange.
Russell Crowe as Doctor Strange
Directed by Ridley Scott
Never in an thousand years would this pairing have crossed my mind. It’s inspired, and certainly out of left field (something I always appreciate). Ridley Scott has the chops to pull something like this off, even if the supernatural and otherworldly elements seem way outside his wheelhouse. Russell Crowe seems a little too… something for the role. Too dour? Too grumpy? I keep trying to picture it in my head, where it all plays out like Jor-El: Sorcerer Supreme. Not quite sure how excited that gets me.
Daniel Day-Lewis as Doctor Strange
Directed by Darren Aronofsky
Here we go. This is the kind of strangeness I can totally get behind. Daniel Day Lewis certainly has the chops and could be horribly overqualified for the job. But wouldn’t you still love to see it? The odds of this Academy Award winning super-talent taking on the role seem less likely than a big budget adaptation of Peter Porker: The Spectacular Spider-Pig. Mad props for the idea of putting Aronofsky behind the lens. The weird genius behind films stuff like Requiem for a Dream and The Fountain certainly has the skills to do something dark and beautiful. He’s already flirted with some comic book characters before having been attached to Batman: Year One and The Wolverine. Great choices, and something I would certainly line up to see.
Richard Armitage as Doctor Strange
Directed by M. Night Shyamalan
Say what? We’ve gone from ‘inspired’ to ‘lunacy’. Armitage as Doctor Strange is something I could totally get behind. But Shyamalan? That would take an epic leap of faith after sitting through crazy junk like The Happening and The Last Airbender. I didn’t hate After Earth as much as everybody else, but the guy has been struggling to achieve average for quite some time.
After reading all these comments and speculating myself on the subject, I had an epiphany. The kind of ‘holy hell’ moment where you almost feel idiotic that you didn’t think of it sooner.
Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange
Directed by Anyone other than M. Night Shyamalan
I know, right? Seriously. Once I latched onto this idea, casting anyone else seems ridiculous. Cumberbatch is that perfect blend of serious and slightly silly. A performer who can do dark and brooding but still never takes himself too seriously. He feels almost genetically predisposed to play the part. A character that starts out as an insufferable egotistical neurosurgeon know it all before permanently injuring his hands rendering him unable to continue his career. How easy would that be for someone like Cumberbatch who has a gift for playing those difficult, arrogant types?
The character of Doctor Strange feels like it has the same challenges of someone like Loki, who has to travel between territories of villainous, vulnerable, and likability. Strange has a similar tap-dance to perform, treading the line between arrogant and heroic. A character who has to rule the roost, and then loathe the idea of losing it all. His ascension into the role of hero is a dark and difficult journey that requires an actor of unique range. I think Benedict Cumberbatch fits the bill. That blend of cold calculation and intensity that fits the character so well.
Benedict Cumberbatch should play Doctor Strange. There is no better choice.
What are your thoughts?
Anghus Houvouras is a North Carolina based writer and filmmaker. His latest work, the novel My Career Suicide Note, is available from Amazon.