Having seen Doctor Strange, it’s hard to imagine anyone other than Benedict Cumberbatch as the titular Dr Stephen Strange.
According to some newly released concept art, though, Marvel was at one point considering someone very different for the role.
Can you imagine Ryan Gosling as the Sorceror Supreme? Something doesn’t quite seem right about this casting, but it’s an idea that Marvel pursued for long enough to commission some concept art.
It’s not certain how much of a sure thing Gosling may have been at one point in the movie’s development. The official word from most filmmakers involved with Doctor Strange was that Benedict Cumberbatch was always the studio’s number one choice, but at a time when securing the British actor seemed unlikely, Marvel entertained a number of other possible choices, including Gosling.
It’s also pretty clear that the studio always intended to nab an A-list star for the role, which is interesting considering their earlier casting choices.
Robert Downey Jr was in a significant career slump when he was cast as Iron Man, so grabbing him for a multiple picture deal wasn’t that big of a challenge. Chris Hemsworth was barely more than an unknown when Thor debuted, and Chris Evans, while certainly on the rise, was hardly the superstar that he’s become.
With Brie Larson cast as Captain Marvel, it seems that the studio is now deliberately targeting big name actors who already at the top of their game, rather than nurturing homegrown talent and turning smaller stars into household names.
This may be an attempt to bring an air of respectability to a series of films that are widely considered little more than popcorn flicks. The choice to hire Oscar nominees and winners does just so happen to coincide with the release of movies like Captain America: Civil War which tries for a more serious tone than many of the frivolous films that came before.
And yet, Doctor Strange itself is one of the most formulaic blockbusters that Marvel has produced – it’s a clear attempt to replicate the success of Iron Man and its frivolous, explosive fun. The studio has signed on an actor who’s known for smart roles, and has used him to tell a story about wizard monks who go on regular drug trips.
Marvel clearly isn’t too interested in making all their movies as politically intelligent and emotionally deep as Civil War. But if the studio feels that big stars like Ryan Gosling, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Brie Larson are the key to future success, don’t be too surprised if future movies do display a tonal shift, as Marvel attempts to shake up the formula in order to keep their movies relevant.
After all, if superhero films ever get boring, the entire Marvel Studio will instantly die.
They can’t let that happen any time soon.