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Johnny Depp in talks for Marvel’s Doctor Strange

Johnny Depp has spoken with Marvel about taking on the title role in Marvel’s Doctor Strange, according to sources speaking to Latino Review. Depp, a long-time comic book fan, is said to be interested in working with Marvel, and the 50-year old actor already has a strong relationship with Marvel’s parent company, Disney.

The character of Doctor Strange first appeared in July 1963. Once a brilliant, but arrogant neurosurgeon, an accident left Dr. Steven Strange with damage to his hands that left him unable to operate. Unable to accept this, Strange travelled the globe to find a way to restore his hands. The search left him penniless, desperate, and encouraged to follow a rumor that took him to an ancient mystic in the Himalayas. Despite initial hesitance, the “Ancient One,” Earth’s Sorcerer Supreme, reluctantly agreed to take Strange on as a disciple.

johnny-depp-2013-hairUnder the Ancient One’s tutelage, Strange overcome his own arrogance and proved to be a gifted pupil. He eventually returned to New York as the new Sorcerer Supreme, the world’s greatest magician, and the sworn enemy of several malevolent supernatural entities that aren’t big fans of humanity. Since then, Doctor Strange has appeared in several comics, including his own.

Assuming that the source is correct, the discussions are still in a the very early stage. Either the studio or the actor may still choose to not participate, but talks are ongoing. There is also a potential scheduling issue though.

In January of 2013, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige confirmed that Marvel was looking at a Doctor Strange film for its “Phase Three,” which will begin with Edgar Wright’s Ant-Man on July 31, 2015. With Avengers: Age of Ultron concluding Phase Two on May 1, 2015, the next Marvel movie probably wouldn’t be until 2016, assuming Marvel follows its previous pattern of releasing only two films per year. If Depp is interested, he would have to find a way to film both Doctor Strange and the upcoming Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, which is also set for a 2016 release.

Under different circumstances this might be the end of the discussion. Putting aside what is likely a shockingly comprehensive and legally binding contract between Depp and the Pirates franchise that has earned nearly $4 billion, the schedules just don’t seem to align for what will probably be a pair of effects-heavy, big budget films that should commit the cast to months of shooting. Of course, since both films are controlled by Disney, that changes things a bit.

Depp could theoretically appear in both films, with Dead Men Tell No Tales releasing in the summer, and Doctor Strange pushed to November – a slot Thor: The Dark World just rode to over $630 million worldwide. Depp has a good relationship with Disney, and the studio may want established actors to anchor Phase Three, which will feature slightly lesser-known characters from Marvel’s universe.

Marvel has previously taken chances with talented actors that didn’t command huge salaries (at the time, at least), but just this week the studio announced that Oscar Winner Michael Douglas had been cast in the upcoming Ant-Man (along with comedy star Paul Rudd), and Douglas himself said he would entertain the possibility of appearing in multiple movies. Bringing in Douglas and Depp for Phase Three would likely help to excite audiences, even if the characters of Ant-Man and Doctor Strange don’t (at least not to the same degree as a character like Captain America).

Again though, the talks are still in the very early stages. No director has been mentioned yet, although screenwriters Thomas Dean Donnelly and Joshua Oppenheimer (2011’s Conan the Barbarian, Dylan Dog: Dead of Night) were hired to write the screenplay – which sources claim calls for a 30-something actor. If Depp is interested though, that shouldn’t be too difficult to change.

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