Now that the important yet drawn out and tedious task of casting the titular character in Doctor Strange has been resolved – Another round of applause for Benedict Cumberbatch everyone!!! – we get to the real meat of the casting conundrum: who will play The Ancient One. Okay, so that may not be the most talked about bit of casting in the process seeing as how the man that teaches Strange all about his magical, mystical powers doesn’t exactly play a huge part in the story, but in the Marvel U there are no small parts, only small actors. To prove that old theater axiom, it’s been leaked that there are three very strong frontrunners to play The Ancient One.
According to Latino Review, Morgan Freeman, Bill Nighy and Ken Watanabe are the Top 3 to play The Ancient One in Doctor Strange. In the comic book, The Ancient One is a 500-year-old-plus Tibetan man who traveled the world collecting various magics and artifacts until his albeit slow aging caught up with, forcing him to select and apprentice to become the new Sorcerer Supreme. It’s the mentor role, and if you’re looking at somebody to play a mentor, then Freeman, Nighy and Watanabe are going to rank pretty high on your list of potentials.
But how likely are one of those three candidates to get the part? Well, if you want to surprise the crowd then Nighy might be the obvious choice as he hasn’t done the mentor thing so many times. Watanabe more or less did the same schtick as the Fake Ra’s al Ghul in Batman Begins, and Freeman’s played God before, and what is God if not the ultimate mentor figure. Watanabe aside, it seems that Marvel is looking at a post-racial Ancient One and not going with the obvious little old Asian man route. That’s cool, they tried the same thing with The Mandarin though and it turned out people missed the racial stereotyping. (In part.)
There was a rumor that they might be looking at Al Pacino for the part of The Ancient One, Pacino having recently revealed that he had talks with Marvel Studios. A Pacino Ancient One would be awesome, but I wonder if Marvel would waste such a star on such a small role. Other casting speculation says that Daniel Bruhl may be playing the part of Baron Mondo, Strange’s first big bad. Except casting for Strange to start shaping up more firmly in the new year as the filming will likely begin sometime in mid-2015.
Doctor Strange opens in theaters everywhere on November 4, 2016.