Five years after the debut of Marvel Studios' Doctor Strange, it's hard to envision anyone other than Benedict Cumberbatch playing the Sorcerer Supreme. The casting of Cumberbatch is spot-on, and he continues to be a favorite amongst most fans. All that to say, Cumberbatch initially thought about passing on the part, only knowing about some of the more dated versions of the character from the comics.
During an interview with Esquire, Cumberbatch was asked about accepting the role of Doctor Strange back in 2014. Marvel Studios approached him to play the part, and the knowledge he had of the character gave him pause, as he didn't want to take on a role that would perpetuate some of the more negative cultural aspects from years past.
"I kind of had my doubts about it, from just going into the comics. I thought 'This is a very dated, sexist character.' And it's very tied up in that crossover, that kind of East meets West occultism movement of the Sixties and Seventies," Cumberbatch explained. "And then they sort of sold me on the bigger picture, on 'Oh no, don't worry, this will be very much a character of his time. And, yes, he has attitude problems... but this is what we envisage.'"
The version of Strange Cumberbatch was asked to play — and the one featured in most modern comics — doesn't carry that same baggage. Yes, he can be a bit cold to the folks around him, but that's a far cry from being offensive or stereotypical.
Cumberbatch continued on to say that Marvel really courted him for the role. After deciding to take it, he realized that he had already booked a stint in Hamlet on stage and it was scheduled for the same time as the Doctor Strange shoot. Marvel ended up moving the entire production back six months, cutting the post-production time in half, strictly because the studio was convinced Cumberbatch was the right actor for the part.
"They flirted with a couple of other options, then they came back and said, 'We don't want anyone else to do it,'" Cumberbatch said.
Doctor Strange will be seen in Spider-Man: No Way Home this December, but the character is getting his own sequel in 2022: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. The film is set to arrive in theaters on May 6, 2022.