Benedict Cumberbatch is reportedly in the final stages of a deal to play the Sorcerer Supreme, adding another marquee name to Marvel Studios' collection of superheroes. If the deal goes through — and at this point, it seems likely — the Sherlock, Star Trek Into Darkness and Hobbitstar will join the Marvel Cinematic Universe in July 2016.
But don't start casting those action figures just yet; Marvel was close to a deal with Joaquin Phoenix this summer, hoping to trot him out on the Comic-Con stage. But that never materialized, and the list of names floated on the Hollywood rumour blogs never stopped growing after that: Jared Leto, Johnny Depp, Matthew McConaughey and countless others had balloons floated along the way.
For the uninitiated, Stephen Vincent Strange starts out as the world's foremost neurosurgeon before delving into the magical arts, only to become the Sorcerer Supreme — Earth's primary protector against threats from mystical planes and realms. For this reason, he is a key figure in the Avengers universe, and much in the way that the Guardians of the Galaxy film blazed a trail to space, the introduction of Doctor Strange will allow all manner of demons, spirits and other mystical figures to enter the fray.
Deadline claims it was first to put Cumberbatch in the role, but is saying out the other side of its mouth that negotiations have yet to begin. Other Hollywood trades followed, each with varying degrees of surety. Confirmation could be coming very, very soon.
That's because the news comes on the eve of a mystery Marvel Studios event to which a wide contingency of reporters was invited. Emails tipping the Tuesday event at Disney's El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood gave no details about what would be shown, though Marvel Studios head honcho Kevin Feige is expected to host.
Could this be the massive info-dump that fills in Marvel's several open calendar dates, along the lines of what Warner Bros. did earlier this month at its shareholders' meeting? And were they planning to bring Cumberbatch onstage as a big reveal?
If so, that cat is out of the bag now — so unless Marvel calls off the press corps, expect much more superhero insights in the next 24 hours, true believers.