Seems like even Marvel believed in Benedict Cumberbatch’s potential before casting him as Doctor Strange despite multiple problems!

Doctor Strange in the MCU

The iconic character of Doctor Strange in the MCU has become one of the most loved ones over the years, and a major credit for this goes to none other than the fan-favorite Benedict Cumberbatch. In fact, the 47-year-old actor was so widely loved in the role that even those fans who rallied for Joaquin Phoenix for the role can’t imagine someone else playing the character.


Doctor Strange in the comics.Doctor Strange in the comics.
That being said, Phoenix got really, really close to nabbing that role from Cumberbatch. However, fortunately enough, things went in the favor of The Imitation Game actor. What’s more, even though his involvement in the movie cost Marvel millions of dollars due to scheduling conflicts, the franchise still agreed, as per what the director of the 2016 movie Scott Derrickson recently confessed.

Scott Derrickson on Benedict Cumberbatch Becoming Doctor Strange

Although it may come as a surprise to many, the first one who was approached for the role of Stephen Strange was none other than Benedict Cumberbatch. This was because he was the top choice of Derrickson, who even claims to have flown to London just to get him to agree to the role.
Benedict Cumberbatch. | Credit: Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons.Benedict Cumberbatch. | Credit: Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons.
However, as much as Cumberbatch “understood the significance of what the role was and how it could impact his life,” he had already committed to do Hamlet in London theatre. This is why they began to approach other actors for the role, one of whom was Joaquin Phoenix.
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As per what the filmmaker of the 2016 masterpiece recently shared in his interview with /Film, the Joker actor was the one that I spent the most time with.” However, Derrickson soon realized that Phoenix and the MCU weren’t really “a good fit,” and thus, the actor was dropped.
Joaquin Phoenix. | Credit: Wikimedia Commons.Joaquin Phoenix. | Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
Just like that, they came back to the casting process, with director Derrickson eventually telling Kevin Feige: “We have to move the date because it’s got to be Benedict.” What’s worth noticing is that this would have cost them a lot of money as the film was initially slated for a summer release.


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But, much to everyone’s surprise, Bob Iger and Alan Horn moved the [release] date and it became a fall movie,” just so they could bring Cumberbatch on board. And, needless to say, it was all because of Derrickson that the actor could score a winning role like the one he did in the MCU.

Scott Derrickson was the Reason why Benedict Cumberbatch Could Score the Role

Scott Derrickson. | Credit: Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons.Scott Derrickson. | Credit: Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons.
As it turns out, in the end, Marvel and Disney eventually agreed to spend millions of dollars along with a further extended release date to cast Cumberbatch in the role of Dr. Stephen Strange; all because of the legendary filmmaker Scott Derrickson.
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How? Well, the Sinister director had envisioned the perfect plot for the character, and none could fit the role more immaculately than the Sherlock star. Thus, even though “it was a lot of exploring on everybody’s part,” after everyone gave it earnest consideration, the director’s choice prevailed.


Cumberbatch as Strange in the Doctor Strange lore.Cumberbatch as Stephen Strange.
As the filmmaker himself shared how he told the Studios that “it has to be [Cumberbatch]”:

“In the end, it came down to the heads of Disney knowing they would make less money on the movie, but letting me as the director have the right actor for the movie.”

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Thus, with sheer trust in the helmer’s choice, Cumberbatch was brought into the massive ship that is the MCU, and much to Derrickson’s delight, he only further proved what the director had envisioned for him: “There’s no one else who’s going to do what he can do in this role.”

You can watch Doctor Strange on Disney+.