Comic Book Casting: The DOCTOR STRANGE Movie

He may not be the only doctor-turned-superhero, but Dr. Strange is undoubtedly the go-to guy when it comes to magic. With his straight-laced super-hero and mutant friends already making their way to the silver screen, this silver-templed  mage could (and should) be next.

Trained as a neurosurgeon, Strange’s planned future was vexed after a car accident rendered his hands unable to perform even simple surgical maneuvers.¬† After countless surgical attempts to restore his hands, he once-proud doctor finds himself hunting after an Eastern mythical being known as the Ancient One to cure him with alternative medicine and, well, witchcraft. Strange goes for a cure and finds a new way of life — following in the footsteps of the wizened mage and becoming one himself.

With all that story, Doctor Strange has yet to make a hit on the big screen. The closest thing was a maligned late 70s TV movie that’s better left forgotten, and if The Avengers movie takes off as we hope this summer then Doctor Strange could be next.

The Concept:

Although I only glossed over it earlier, Dr. Strange has arguably the most unique and evocative origins. If you liked Tony Stark and his story of redemption, then Steven’s story of going from a stuck-up surgeon to a compassionate magician and giving up the world of science for magic is right up there.

For a Dr. Strange movie, it should be an origin story with him only becoming the hero we know in the final moments of the movie. They could almost use the template thrown down by Jon Favreau in the first Iron Man movie, but needs to fill that in with a more fantastical, magical experience — and I’m not talking Harry Potter. It’ll take someone special to bring this to life, and I have just the person.

The Director:

Guillermo del Toro. You might think that’s an unrealistic reach, but did you know in 2008 he was attached to direct with no less than Neil Gaiman in talks to write the script. Although del Toro ultimately moved on to other projects, he has put in the research and with the right offer could return to the project. The Mexican director could really bring a twisted version of the magical realms of Steve Ditko to life, and his ideas for the creatures Strange would run into are mindblowing to think of. Imagine del Toro’s idea of the Mindless Ones.

The Cast:

Doctor Strange – Jon Hamm: Hamm won people over with his lead role on TV’s Mad Men, but has yet to capture the lead in a movie. He could do wonders with this, as we’ve seen him play a man going down the wrong path in Mad Men and seen a more light-hearded Hamm in 30 Rock.

Baron Mordo – Hugh Laurie: Some people might go so far as to cast Laurie as Dr. Strange given his long history playing a doctor, but when you look closer he’s undeniably more ideal for the jealous Baron Mordo. Seeing him square off against Hamm-as-Strange would be geek heaven for fans of their work, and could really make a legitimate threat out of Mordo.

The Ancient One – Chow Yun Fat: The Ancient One is more than just an Obi-Wan figure guiding Strange on his redemptive path. Someone with the gravitas of Chow could really be the crux of Strange’s story and also play referee between Strange and Mordo.

Linda Carter, The Night Nurse – Evangeline Lilly: The Night Nurse didn’t play into Strange’s original origin, but her later inclusion has made a lot of sense. For this, I’d have Carter be a nurse on Strange’s staff when he is a surgeon and also a formative sounding-board. When Strange runs off to find a magical cure, Carter could he his lifeline back to the real world. Lilly could really offset Strange’s dark path and later be a link to his traditional medicinal roots when he’s entrenched as a magician.

Wong – Sung Kang: Although Wong wouldn’t really enter the scene until a later movie, I couldn’t help but include this because of the casting I thought of. Sung Kang was one of the bright spots int the recent Fast And The Furious movies, and he’d be a great headstrong guy Friday for Strange when he returns to New York City.

Clea – Kate Winslet: Likewise, introducing Clea might be better held off until a second movie, but perhaps throwing her in for a cameo role in the first movie could plant the seeds for that. Winslet would really add a flair to this and I’d love to see her in a fantastical magical role like this.

Comments

  1. I clicked on this thinking “if Liam Neeson isn’t down for Dr Strange, I’m calling shenanigans.”

    Then you went with the wonderful Jon Hamm instead. Well played, sir.

    • Liam Neeson would have made a great Doctor Strange….15 years ago.

      That’s not to say he isn’t still an awesome actor, or that Dr. Strange shouldn’t be played older (I think he should), but Liam Neeson is almost 60 years old.

    • You know another great actor who is “older” and looks great with facial hair? …..Robert Downey Jr.

      Anyways, Jon Hamm is a great choice. I always envisioned Dr. Strange as a man who spoke proper English (on the pretentious side) so maybe: Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Patrick Dempsey or maybe Stephen Moyer.

      Just food for thought.

  2. i’d love to see a Dr. Strange movie. I’m a big believer that stuff like this could have very successful mainstream success if put in the right hands. Its less capes and cowls superhero stuff, and more mystical magic SFX fun. I think it could work. Love the idea of Del Torro and Hamm working together.

  3. I would watch the hell out of that movie. I’d also watch an Adrian Brody-led cast, if Hamm is busy.

  4. Never read Dr. Strange, but I’d watch this movie.

  5. Great choices all round. Though I reserve judgment until we see the full range of Jon Hamm’s hand-gesturing skills.

  6. I love the Dr. Strange origin, although sadly have not read nearly enough of his comics over the years. Although ‘m a big Defenders fan, so I am somewhat familiar with the character.

    I do like the casting choices here, especially Hugh Laurie as Baron Mordo, that’s some good stuff right there.

    Guillermo del Toro would obviously be the ideal director for this, but I have somebody else who I think would actually do a fantastic job: Dave McKean. Anyone who saw Mirror Mask knows that he can create a visually stunning fantasy world, which is really half the battle with dr. Strange.

    • As much as I love Dave McKean, I don’t know if he’s ready to handle such a big production that DOCTOR STRANGE would be. I’d pay for him to do the intro credits ala GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO however.

  7. Mads Mikkelsen from After the Wedding and Casino Royale would be my dream choice for Stephen Strange. Jon Hamm feels a little too much like George Clooney playing Batman.

    • That’d be interesting, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen Mikkelsen play a somewhat-nice guy (I’ve only seen him in Casino Royale, the first Pusher and Valhalla Rising).

      Can he do an American accent? For that matter is there anything inherently American about Dr. Strange?

  8. I would have never thought of Hamm for Dr. Strange, but I think it’s a pretty good choice. I wonder what they would do with the costume, I assume there would have to be some design changes made.

  9. can’t complain about any of these – good casting!

  10. Didn’t Patrick Dempsey (Grey’s Anatomy) show some interest in playing Strange? I guess he’d be right for the part too. Jon Hamm strikes me more as Alan Scott (after some hair dye) than Stephen Strange…

  11. I’ve always kinda loved Dr. Srange, even though I admit to not having read a heck of a lot of his books. Would love to see a movie with him though. Can anyone point me to some good Dr. Strange trades I should check out?

  12. I think Daniel Day Lewis would make a great Dr. Strange. Gangs of New York showed he certainly looks right in the mustache…

  13. Don’t laugh…really, don’t laugh….

    TOM SELLECK!

  14. You’ve outdone tourself, Chris – I would so watch this movie!

  15. I like Jon Hamm, but I think Adam Scott or Mathew Fox might be the better choices.

    I would have Ron Perlman play Dormammu (motion capture)

  16. I can seriously see this happening.
    My guess foe Marvels next solo superhero movie has Gota be this or Black Panther.

  17. Jon Hamm is good.

    Timothy Dalton is better.

    • I like Timothy Dalton, but again the age thing — dude’s almost 70!

      Dr. Strange shouldn’t be played by a young man, that’s for sure (it takes a lot of time and experience to become a top-flight surgeon after all), but I don’t think he should be played by anyone eligible for AARP membership.

      But maybe I’m just an ageist jerk.