Casting for the upcoming Marvel film based around Doctor Strange has been ongoing for what seems like years, and now it looks like there's another Hollywood heavyweight in the ring.
Variety reports that Joaquin Phoenix, star of Her and Walk the Line, is in early talks to take on the mantel of Marvel's latest superhero to undergo the movie treatment. The role was previously linked to British actors Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hardy.
Could Joaquin be the new superhero on the block?
For those unfamiliar with the comics, Doctor Strange is the monicker of Stephen Strange, an egotistical former neurosurgeon turned protector of Earth thanks to his magical abilities. The character was mentioned very briefly in Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier, sending fans into an internet frenzy and confirming that the character was very much alive in the Marvel cinematic universe.
The film is due for release in July 2016, and will be directed by Scott Derrickson, who is known for creating horror movies such as Sinister and The Exorcism of Emily Rose, which suggests Doctor Strange will perhaps take on a darker tone than previous Marvel films. Marvel boss Kevin Fiege also stated in an interview with Empire magazine that "There's a whole other side to the Marvel universe, which is the supernatural side. We've always been very interested in this aspect and this is going back to the early days of Strange Tales with Steve Ditko and Stan Lee. I love that stuff. We haven't done anything that mind-trippy yet and for me, Doctor Strange is our doorway into that."
Phoenix certainly bears a physical resemblence to the hero, and as one of the most versatile actors working today, there's no doubt that he would be able to pull off the role. However, Joaquin is known for taking more highbrow and independent roles than mainstream blockbusters like Marvel's films, and may not be attracted to a role that comes with so much publicity and committment (many Marvel stars are locked into hefty multi-picture contracts). Yet Phoenix was previously courted by Warner Brothers for the role of Lex Luthor in the upcoming Batman vs Superman movie, so perhaps it's not so "strange" to think that we might be seeing him saving the world alongside Robert Downey Jr and Chris Evans before long.
For the time being, he will next be seen onscreen in Paul Thomas Anderson's Inherant Vice, and is filming a new Woody Allen film alongside Spiderman alumni Emma Stone.