Benedict Cumberbatch is Doctor Strange, Fandom Opinion Mixed
Benedict Cumberbatch is Sherlock, Khan, Smaug, and now officially entering in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Doctor Strange. The movie, based on the popular Marvel comic of the same name, is set to be released on November 4th, 2016 and scheduled to start filming in May of 2015. The film will be the second film of Phase Three of the MCU after Captain America: Civil War and before the Guardians of the Galaxy sequel. Phase Two is set to close out with Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ant-Man. Benedict Cumberbatch is now officially stepping into arguably the biggest nerd film franchise in nerd culture today. The casting announcement, however, was not all met with fangirl enthusiasm as people raised some very valid concerns about the choice.
— Doctor Strange (@DrStrange) December 4, 2014
For the most part Cumbercookies are happy to see the extraordinarily talented and visually appealing British actor step into yet another geeky fandom. This feeling is not entirely universal, though. Some feel that Cumberbatch is starting to suffer from over exposure. While fans of the actor are quite pleased to have more of him across multiple fandoms, people who are just a casual fan are growing tired of him popping up all over the place. Some people also feel the MCU Franchise is turning its back on its roots of casting unknowns and relying too much on star power by casting Cumberbatch in this role.
Another criticism on the fandom front is that the role should have gone to a POC. Doctor Strange’s ethnicity is ambiguous at best and we have yet another white male lead comic book character. They could have taken a chance and given it to a POC actor in order to break up the long string of white male lead superhero films. Thankfully, unlike when Cumberbatch was cast as Khan, it’s not a blatant case of white washing, but it’s still a missed opportunity. When there are so many characters defined as white and only a small number of canonically POC characters in existence, a character who hasn’t been defined as either is a great opportunity to add to the POC character column.
For full disclosure, I’m a proud Cumbercookie and I’m generally happy with this choice. Even the people who have concerns about this casting due to over exposure or the missed opportunity to cast a POC aren’t doubting his acting ability. They still seem confident that he’ll knock it out of the park, but they were hoping for something more. It’s a testament to how talented Cumberbatch is, that people can have absolutely valid criticism against him being cast in a roll, but still concede that his acting skill is off the charts. This is what we’ve got, though. At this point, all we can hope for is some diverse casting choices and fresh new faces in Inhumans and Black Panther. They seem to be our best chance at mixing things up a bit.
Undie Girl contributed to this report.
Stephanie “Angel” Wilson is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. She earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. She’s contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. She’s written for Friends of Comic Con and has essays published in Fandom Frontlines.
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