The actor will play neurosurgeon Doctor Stephen Strange who, after a horrific car accident, discovers the hidden world of magic and alternate dimensions and becomes the next Sorcerer Supreme and primary protector of Earth against magical and mystical threats. Marvel Comics vets Stan Lee and Steve Ditko co-created the character in 1963.
Cumberbatch’s casting had been in the works since October.
Scott Derrickson is directing the film, to be released Nov. 4, 2016, as part of Marvel’s phase three of superhero movies. Jon Spaihts is writing the script.
“Stephen Strange’s story requires an actor capable of great depth and sincerity,” said Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige. “In 2016 Benedict will show audiences what makes Doctor Strange such a unique and compelling character.”
Feige has long wanted the Doctor Strange character to star in his own solo film as a way to make a movie about magic the way “Guardians of the Galaxy” pushes the Marvel movie world into the sci-fi and space genre and “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” into political thrillers.
Marvel had been in negotiations with Joaquin Phoenix to take the role but couldn’t reach a deal because of the number of films the thesp would have to agree to make.
In addition to voicing a wolf in DreamWorks Animation’s “The Penguins of Madagascar,” Cumberbatch can currently be seen in “The Imitation Game,” and he will return to the smallscreen as Sherlock Holmes next year in the BBC’s “Sherlock.”
He also voices the dragon Smaug and the Necromancer in New Line’s “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.” Other upcoming projects include Scott Cooper’s Whitey Bulger pic “Black Mass,” which also stars Johnny Depp and Joel Edgerton.