San Diego Comic-Con is in full swing, but the rumor mill about "Doctor Strange" is just picking up speed.
Benedict Cumberbatch was evasive yesterday at the "The Penguins of Madagascar" panel when asked if he might be the next Marvel superhero -- "What rumors?" -- but less than 24 hours later, another actor's name is being bandied about for the role of "Doctor Strange." According to Deadline, Joaquin Phoenix is in talks to star in "Doctor Strange" as the eponymous neurosurgeon slash sorcerer from the comic books. This rumor is weird but plausible, if not downright brilliant.
A great part of the success and appeal of the Marvel movies has to do with the unlikely or even risky directors and stars that Kevin Feige et al pick to helm their franchises. After all, Joss Whedon wasn't exactly a household name when he was anointed for "The Avengers," and we didn't quite think of Robert Downey Jr. as superhero material until Jon Favreau convinced Marvel (and us) otherwise. You only have to look to the hottest movie of the summer, "Guardians of the Galaxy," to see proof of Marvel's mad genius.
So why not Joaquin Phoenix? After all, "Doctor Strange" is one of Marvel's trippier creations, and Phoenix is no stranger to getting weird onscreen. Things will definitely get dark and mystical in the hands of director Scott Derrickson, whose previous films like "Sinister" and "Deliver Us From Evil" deal with the more troubling aspects of human nature. "Doctor Strange" is the Marvel series for people who aren't that into superheroes, who are more interested in the sort of weird Jungian myths behind our superhero stories -- exactly the sort of thing that would appeal to a loveable (and extraordinarily talented) weirdo like Joaquin.
In any case, many people are anticipating a big announcement from Marvel about "Doctor Strange" during tomorrow's Hall H panel, so stay tuned.