Doctor Strange has had quite the presence these days, leadings Multiverse of Madness, having a major role in Spider-Man: No Way Home and a full episode in What If. At this point, it’s hard to imagine Doctor Strange as anyone else but Benedict Cumberbatch but there was a time when Joaquin Phoenix was set for the role.
After years of discussions surrounding the topic, Phoenix has commented on what went down. Is there truly beef between Phoenix and Marvel? Or is that all conjecture?
No beef between Joaquin Phoenix and Marvel
Speaking with CinemaBlend, Joaquin Phoenix says there is no beef between him and Marvel Studios. The acclaimed actor also claims that “all parties were satisfied,” regarding him not being in the role. Unfortunately, Phoenix doesn’t go into details as to why he turned the role down. However, his comments about the MCU suggest that Doctor Strange was just not for him.
Firstly, the actor shut down rumours that he refused to do a Marvel movie due to their style. The actor explained that he enjoys blockbuster movies, despite what many claim.
"I think they make some great, fun movies. There's nothing wrong... I'm not a fucking, like, cinephile,” says Phoenix. “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.”
The actor explained that turning down the role led to a great final product. With Benedict Cumberbatch in the role, Marvel Studios has made Doctor Strange a success.
“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."
Phoenix turning down the role ended up for the better as Benedict Cumberbatch killed it as Doctor Strange. When Cumberbatch was first seen in the Doctor Strange costume, many said it looked like he stepped right out of the comics.Cumberbatch’s Strange has since appeared in a number of MCU films, so Phoenix is probably right about all parties being satisfied.
Marvel doesn’t want actors who feel “forced” to do the role
Speaking with The Direct, former Marvel Studios lawyer Paul Sarker says the Joaquin Phoenix situation was a unique one. Apparently, Marvel and Phoenix have had plenty of conversations and it seemed like a sure deal. However, Sarker points out that it didn’t happen and Kevin Feige doesn’t want to force actors into the role.
"But to be perfectly honest, the Joaquin Phoenix thing was unique to me, because there was a deal and because it was pretty far along,” says Sarker. “And we were hopeful that it would close, but it didn't. And that happens. And that to bring it back full circle, things like that may be why Kevin is saying we don't want to do these super long-term deals because we want to see what works and if it works, and people want to do more than we'd love to have [them]. We don't want someone to feel like they're forced.”
It’s an interesting answer when contrasted to how Marvel constantly demands last-minute fixes from the VFX artists they hire. We appreciate Marvel wanting to remain friendly with actors but it would be great to see them treat their VFX artists with the same respect, considering how these movies depend on them.