Earlier this summer, we at The Playlist launched our Playlist podcast series. In our second episode, we conversed about Warner Bros.' plans for the Justice League, and of course, discussed the second phase of the Marvel cinematic universe. During our conversation we dropped some fun Marvel rumors that had come across our desk this summer (Marvel never verifies, so it tends to be speculative at best) and one of the more fascinating grapevine dispatches we heard was that Dr. Strange, the Sorcerer Supreme of the Marvel universe, would be a big part of "Thor: The Dark World" (then simply called "Thor 2").
Marvel love their Easter Egg teasers, and The Eye of Agamotto, the name commonly given to Doctor Strange's amulet, was spotted in the original "Thor" movie by keen fans (just like a "Black Panther" reference was spotted in "Iron Man 2," etc.). And so like Hawkeye (played by Jeremy Renner) being teased briefly in "Thor," one of the fun rumors we'd heard was Dr. Stephen Strange (the heroes alter ego) was going to appear in "Thor 2" in what would be somewhat of a substantial role. Some geeks shrugged, some took it (as they probably should) with a jumbo-sized grain of salt. Fair enough.
However, the rumor is beginning to build traction and could be on to something. A Marvel Studios-leaking Twitter account named Roger Wardell — who has apparently been on the money with early news about Falcon appearing in "Captain America 2" and Sebastian Stan reprising his role as Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier as well — has been tweeting out again. Two new tweets have caught the eagle-eye of fans. One that suggests what we heard earlier this summer ("Inside News: There's something "Strange" about Thor: The Dark World") and another unconnected tweet that talks specific actors ("Inside News: Marvel is negotiations with Viggo Mortensen for an unspecified role in one of their Phase 2 films").
Screen Rant has put two and three together to come up with the idea that Viggo Mortensen could play Dr. Strange. Hell, we suppose he could be on their wishlist. We'd heard (as discussed during our podcast) that Marvel Studios' first choice for the role was Joel Edgerton, soon to be seen in Kathryn Bigelow's "Zero Dark Thirty" and Baz Luhrmann's "The Great Gatsby." (We'd all heard that Steven Moffat and Benedict Cumberbatch had met with Team Marvel about something and we hoped and prayed and wished upon a star that they were there for "Dr. Strange." Apparently this was not the case.)
So is all this building evidence towards the inevitable? Hard to say, though personally we wouldn't doubt that Marvel would want to build up their heroes in this way. However, Viggo is a notoriously independent fellow, and in the years since he hung up his sword and shield after the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, he has taken a notably atypical path. He's done three movies with David Cronenberg, played a Nazi in a little-seen historical drama, appeared in a couple of documentaries, and starred in the troubled, imperfect adaptation of literary sensation "The Road." Not exactly the kind of dude who would jump at the chance to be locked into another multi-year, multi-film arrangement.
Also, keep in mind that he turned down roles in two major fantasy-like tentpoles in the last twelve months, "Man of Steel" and "Snow White and the Huntsman," A "Dr. Strange" script by Thomas Donnelly and Joshua Oppenheimer was commissioned and handed in last year, but there have been Dr. Strange scripts for at least the past decade. At one point David Goyer was writing one, until the executives asked him if he could take out all the magic.
Other interesting rumors from Roger Wardell? 1. Cobie Smulders, Maximiliano Hernández, and Titus Welliver will be used on the Joss Whedon Marvel TV show about S.H.I.E.L.D. 2. Marvel wanted the rights to Silver Surfer and Galactus for "Guardians of the Galaxy." 3. Baron Zemo will be another major villain in "Captain America 2." And 4. And apparently that actor Aldis Hodge is on Marvel's radar (which will inevitably lead everyone to think they have him in mind for Black Panther or Luke Cage). That's just the tip of the iceberg, and there are lots of other small tidbits for comic-book movie fans as well. Will they turn out to be true? Keep a scorecard and we'll see. Excelsior.