Who is stranger? Ethan Hawke or Joaquin Phoenix? This may be the choice now before Marvel Studios and comic book fans as a new name has appeared in the race to play the next, great Marvel superhero: Doctor Strange. It was barely a month ago that is seemed like Phoenix had the whole thing sewn up, but today we have rumors that the Boyhood star has cut in and become such a sensation with the studio that he’s all but assured to take on the part of the Sorcerer Supreme and Master of the Mystic Arts. So is Phoenix really now off the casting sheet? Is Hawke now the one to beat, and how much does past experience with facial hair play into the casting decision?
A website called This is Infamous, reported the news that Hawke was now the frontrunner to play Doctor Stephen Strange:
Ethan Hawke is their new guy, having offered him the role on Friday. I hear Hawke accepted the job over the weekend, and things have quickly progressed into contract talks, with a six-picture deal being what Marvel is hoping to lock him into.
Well, there you go. Of course, This is Infamous in hardly an unassailable source, and they may be talking out of an orifice that’s not their mouths on this subject, but consider a couple of things. First, Hawke has a working relationship with Strange director Scott Derrickson, who made the 2012 horror hit Sinister with Hawke in the lead role. Second, Phoenix is known to be, ahem, somewhat volatile, which may make Marvel Studios somewhat hesitant to sign him to a six picture contract for a key role in the overarching plan.
From a personal standpoint, I think I’d rather see Hawke in the part than Phoenix. Phoenix is certainly a better actor, but I think Hawke’s probably got the right flexability of style and attitude to fit in well with the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Hawke can do big budget and small budget, he can rise to the occasion for indie filmmakers like Richard Linklater, and he can fit in well in horror movies like The Purge and Daybreakers. He can also do action as evidenced in Training Day and the Assault on Precinct 13 remake, and he can also poke fun at himself having once appeared on Robot Chicken. He’s also one handsome som’bitch, and unlike Phoenix, he looks good in a beard.
All he’s missing is a big studio franchise, which maybe he now actually has… We’ll have more news as it develops.
As always , assume all casting announcements are soft until we get a formal press release from Marvel.
Doctor Strange is in theaters everywhere July 2018.