The Wrap is reporting that "multiple individuals close to the casting process" of Marvel's upcoming Doctor Strange movie (directed by Scott Derrickson) are saying Joaquin Phoenix "has had discussions" to play the lead role, although there is no deal in place. The report, which is couched in vagueness, comes before Marvel's big Hall H panel at Comic-Con on Saturday, where people think that Doctor Strange casting might be the studio's big piece of news outside of Avengers: Age of Ultron material.
Take this news with a grain of salt, though: Phoenix is a pretty picky actor with his projects and was long-rumored for the Lex Luthor role in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, which went to Jesse Eisenberg. The Wrap also says Phoenix has "been mentioned most often" for the role and is "in consideration," and even claims that his interest in playing Luthor suggests he wouldn't dismiss a comic-book franchise out of hand.
@TheInSneider Is this kinda like he was eyed to play Lex Luther?— Tatiana Siegel (@TatianaSiegel27) July 25, 2014
The mystical superhero is a long-running fixture in the Marvel comic-book universe and has been mulled for a cinematic adaptation for decades. In his origin story, he's an arrogant surgeon who damages his precious hands in a car accident and gets into the occult in an attempt to heal himself, eventually rising to the status of the universe's "Sorcerer Supreme." Because he's a more middle-aged gentleman, always drawn with greying temples, casting suggestions in the past have included George Clooney, Patrick Dempsey and Hugh Laurie. More recently, Benedict Cumberbatch, Jared Leto and Tom Hardy were said to be on Marvel's short-list. Phoenix fits that mold: pushing 40, highly-regarded by critics, and capable of elevating what could be some very silly material in the wrong hands.