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Joaquin Phoenix - ‘Strange,’ indeed

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Joaquin Phoenix has the reputation for being one of Hollywood’s more eccentric stars, and things may be about to get stranger. Deadline Hollywood and The Wrap both report that the three-time Oscar nominee is in negotiations with Marvel Studios to play supernatural superhero Dr. Strange.

That rumor takes a lot of wind out of the sails of the recently prevailing rumor that Benedict Cumberbatch (“Sherlock,” “Star Trek: Into Darkness”) had the inside track on the role.

Marvel does not comment on casting rumors, and a spokesman for the studio had no comment on this one.

The casting would be big news indeed, as Phoenix has generally eschewed commercial, franchise-type vehicles. What might have changed his mind is a matter of speculation. It is worth noting that Phoenix has worked with a number of well-respected actors, like Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Scarlett Johansson and Mark Ruffalo, who may have mentioned to him that doing Marvel adaptations hasn’t actually hurt their careers.

Scott Derrickson (“Sinister”) had already been announced to direct the movie. Jon Spaihts (“Prometheus”) is rewriting the script, the first draft of which was written by Thomas Dean Donnelly and Joshua Oppenheimer.

The character, created by Stan Lee and artist Steve Ditko in 1963, is a brain surgeon who finds out he’s also the Sorcerer Supreme, charged with protecting the world from various supernatural menaces. Ditko’s artwork took on a particularly psychedelic look with “Dr. Strange,” which probably only increased the book’s popularity in the sixties. Sharp-eared Marvel fans had already suspected “Dr. Strange” was in the pipeline following a line of dialogue in “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” in which Stephen Strange is identified as one of a group of endangered special individuals.

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