In a recent interview, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness star Benedict Cumberbatch revealed the Marvel villain he almost wound up playing in the Thor franchise.
Benedict Cumberbatch first joined the MCU in 2016’s Doctor Strange as the titular neurosurgen-turned-sorcerer, a role he has gone on to reprise in several other MCU projects, including two Avengers movies, Spider-Man: No Way Home and now the Doctor Strange sequel. He also cropped up in a brief cameo in 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok, but this wasn’t the first time Marvel Studios had thought about putting Cumberbatch in a Thor movie. Years before he was cast as Doctor Strange, Cumberbatch had been considered for a role in 2013’s Thor: The Dark World.
Speaking to BBC Radio 1 in a recent interview promoting Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Benedict Cumberbatch spoke about turning down the role of Malekith, leader of the Dark Elves, in Thor: The Dark World. The role would ultimately go to Christopher Eccleston, after Cumberbatch passed, saying he would rather hold out for something more substantial. Recalling the experience, he said:
“[The Doctor Strange casting] happened as an idea mooted after, funnily enough, another little dance I did for another character in the MCU, a very brief character, and I was bold enough to say ‘I’m really flattered to be invited to the party, but I’d rather hold out for something a bit more juicy’… but I didn’t mention it, it just went away and … I really wasn’t part of the conversation until it came back to me through my reps that they were interested.”
Cumberbatch then went on to talk about his initial reservations in accepting the role of Doctor Strange once it was offered to him:
“I sort of read the comics and went ‘Yikes,’ because he’s quite old-school, bit of a misogynist, very bound in the ’70s … I thought ‘It’s a bit cornball, it’s a bit hackneyed, I’m not sure this is a great MCU- I don’t get it.’ And they went ‘No, no, it would be today. It would be very much a man of today, yes, with some of those qualities, but like a man of today would have those qualities, where he thinks he’s the bee’s knees.’ Because he has to have that arrogance. And I just fell in love with their script.”
Fans will surely say Benedict Cumberbatch made the right decision in holding out for the Strange casting. Malekith appeared in one MCU film and, despite the magnificent talent of Christopher Eccleston, was not well received. While Malekith was lost in prosthetics and an underwhelming plot, Doctor Strange is now on his sixth MCU outing and showing no signs of slowing down.
Here is the synopsis for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness:
The MCU unlocks the Multiverse and pushes its boundaries further than ever before. Journey into the unknown with Doctor Strange, who, with the help of mystical allies both old and new, traverses the mind-bending and dangerous alternate realities of the Multiverse to confront a mysterious new adversary.
Directed by Sam Raimi from a script written by Michael Waldron, the film stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Elizabeth Olsen, Benedict Wong, Xochitl Gomez, with Michael Stuhlbarg, Rachel McAdams, and Patrick Stewart.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is in theaters now. Stay tuned for all the latest news on the MCU film and Elizabeth Olsen’s Marvel future, and be sure to subscribe to Heroic Hollywood’s YouTube channel for more original video content.