Marvel might have found its Stephen Strange.
Oscar-nominated actor Joaquin Phoenix is in negotiations to star in the upcoming Marvel project, part of the studio’s phase three roster of comic book blockbusters, which will be written and directed by Scott Derrickson (“Deliver Us From Evil,” “Sinister”).
Phoenix, whose lengthy resume includes lauded turns in “Gladiator,” “Walk the Line” and “The Master,” was most recently seen on-screen in James Gray’s drama “The Immigrant,” and Spike Jonze’s futuristic love story, “Her.”
“Doctor Strange” will bring to the screen Stephen Strange, the former neurosurgeon turned Sorcerer Supreme who is the Marvel Universe’s greatest protector against magical peril – and one of his fellow superheroes’ most sought after advisors.
First appearing in a Stan Lee-written and Steve Ditko-drawn story in “Strange Tales” No. 110 in 1963, the brilliant magician has fought such foes as the dread Dormammu of the Dark Dimension and the dream-powered Nightmare, all while sporting a red cape with a spectacularly high collar. He has also been seen as a member of groups including the Defenders, New Avengers and Illuminati.
It’s possible the character might appear in a third “Avengers” film, alongside other heroes including Ant-Man, a character also poised for his own upcoming stand-alone movie.
That project has been the rare Marvel property to endure its share of public turmoil, with fan-favorite writer-director Edgar Wright leaving the project over creative differences with the comic book movie powerhouse. Peyton Reed (“Bring It On”) is now set to direct the planned 2015 standalone release — which will star Michael Douglas as the original Avengers member Hank Pym and Paul Rudd as reformed thief Scott Lang.
Marvel on Friday declined to comment on recent reports that several actors, including Patrick Wilson, have now exited “Ant-Man” as well.
The company’s latest film, the cosmic adventure “Guardians of the Galaxy,” arrives in theaters Aug. 1.
– Gina McIntyre | @LATHeroComplex
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