Michael Stuhlbarg of Boardwalk Empire and A Serious Man fame, as well as having a role in the recent Steve Jobs, is in talks to become the latest addition to the cast of Marvel’s upcoming Doctor Strange. According to Variety, Stuhlbarg will step into the role of Nicodemus West, a scientist who fixes Strange’s hands and follows him on his journey to meet the Ancient One. This will be Stuhlbarg’s first role for Marvel, his casting continuing Marvel’s excellent run of casting Doctor Strange.
Stuhlbarg joins an already talented and unique group of actors and actresses that deviates from the typical casts of superhero films. To be perfectly honest, the cast is so good it’s easy to forget this is a superhero movie let alone a Marvel production. Back in August, we ran an article about the confirmed Doctor Strange cast at the time and how Marvel’s decisions on who would be cast for which roles were so wildly different from other productions, yet also so perfect. To recap, Benedict Cumberbatch will be playing the titular character Stephen Strange, Tilda Swinton is cast as Strange’s mentor the Ancient One, and Chiwetel Ejiofor will play Baron Morodo. In addition, Rachel McAdams has also come onboard and Mads Mikkelsen has been in talks to play the role of the villain.
With the addition of Stuhlbarg, Doctor Strange is shaping up to be a totally different beast of a superhero movie, one we have not seen before. While some of Marvel’s other productions have boasted impressive casts including the likes of Robert Downey Jr. and Edward Norton, they’ve never assembled a cast for one film made up of some legitimate heavyweights, especially not this breed of heavyweight.
Cumberbatch, Swinton, Ejiofor, Mikkelsen, McAdams, and Stuhlbarg have all either been theater trained or spent considerable time as theater actors or actresses, bringing an additional level of sophistication to the production. That’s not to say those theater trained are by default better than those not, but it shows that Marvel is, for reasons so far unclear, looking in new places/breaking the mold for this one. Whether this is because the movie aims to be more story driven, serious in tone, or Marvel is just gunning for an Oscar in the non-existent category for Best Cast, who knows. What’s known is that this is a step in a new (and potentially very worthwhile) direction and Marvel has set the casting bar with Dr. Strange. The addition of Stuhlbarg has added the cherry on top. If they can secure Mads Mikkelsen for the role of the villain, well that’ll be some sweet, sweet icing.