Joaquin Phoenix almost became a big MCU star but chose another path instead.
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Phoenix got a lot of attention back in early 2020 when he was awarded best actor at the Oscar ceremony for his performance as the Joker. The actor mostly is involved with smaller movies, but Phoenix has made it clear that he doesn’t mind being in a blockbuster or two. Yet, something did stop the actor from playing Doctor Strange as he was very close to playing the Sorcerer Supreme.
Most fans can only imagine Benedict Cumberbatch playing the magic-user, but the actor originally was held up with other work causing him to reject Marvel’s first offer for him to play the part. Then, Phoenix was in negotiations to play the character, but those negotiation didn’t end up bringing the actor to the MCU.
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Marvel is well-known for long contracts that require an actor to return for several films and that must’ve been one of the concerns for Phoenix as he probably didn’t want to feel stuck playing a character he had no interest in playing for more than a few movies. The actor did share about his experience with Marvel as he believed both parties were “satisfied” in the end:
“I think they make some great, fun movies. There’s nothing wrong… I’m not a fucking, like, cinephile. I’m not a snob and I’m totally fine with… I enjoy those movies sometimes, and I think they keep the fucking industry going in some ways, so I don’t have a problem with it at all. I think that everybody was, is… I’m trying to figure out how to say this most diplomatically, okay… I think everybody was really happy with how things turned out. All parties were satisfied.”
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Obviously, things didn’t go well between Marvel and Phoenix as the actor didn’t sign on to play Strange, but it’s good that things didn’t end terribly between the two. There’s still a chance that he could come back to audition for a smaller role in the future as Marvel continues to have more diverse stories being told. For Phoenix, there are definitely some roles that could be interesting for him to play, but the actor may have had his fair share of Comic Book movies after starring in two DC movies since a sequel for Joker (2019) is in the works.
At the very least, fans can be happy to have Benedict Cumberbatch play the fan-favorite character. Without Cumberbatch, it’s likely that Doctor Strange may not have had such a pivotal role in the MCU, but now he is considered by Kevin Feige to be the MCU “anchor” meaning that Strange’s future is directly tied to whatever Marvel has planned next.
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The MCU is just beginning to add more super hero teams into the Marvel universe because now, the Avengers need all the help they can get. It is only a matter of time before we see the Young Avengers, Illuminati, Defenders, Midnight Sons, X-Men, Fantastic Four, and the Thunderbolts enter the MCU.
Phase Four has started off with a lot of content for Marvel fans to look forward to in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. On Disney+ you can watch Moon Knight, Ms. Marvel on June 8, and She-Hulk to debut this year. For movies, Doctor Strange In the Multiverse of Madness is out in theaters right now, followed by Thor: Love and Thunder on July 8, and of course, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever on November 11.