Doctor Strange


Morgan Freeman, Ken Watanabe and Bill Nighy Reportedly competing for Role Of ‘The Ancient One’ in Marvel’s Doctor Strange.

By Sarah Jayne Alexander

As the teacher of Doctor Strange and another character ‘Baron Mordo’  (also yet to be cast) the role of ‘The Ancient One’ is of great importance and as such needs to be portrayed by someone who will not only do him justice but will bring to it the kind of depth a 500 year old sorcerer requires.

The news comes a week after Marvel Studios finally confirmed what we had all hoped for since rumours began- the casting of Benedict Cumberbatch in the role of ‘Doctor Strange’.  With other vital lead roles still appearing unfilled, Marvel appear to be rapidly pressing on with a view to change that sooner rather than later. With billion dollar success after million dollar success at the box office it is now common knowledge that being involved with any of Marvel’s phases is no hardship on your career as an actor. Thor launched the likes of Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston into the A-List stratsophere, Iron Man re-launched Robert Downey Jr and most recently, ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ has made a superstar of StarLord actor Chris Pratt and it appears that even well-seasoned actors want in on the action.

According to the internet today following a story published by Latino Review, there are three big Hollywood names in competition for the major supporting role of ‘The Ancient One’ in the 2016 release.
Morgan Freeman, Ken Watanabe and Bill Nighy are apparently wanting in on the the 2016 release but Marvel have given no indication of who they are favouring if at all, any of the forenamed.

Morgan Freeman, who needs no introduction, no longer has contractual obligations to DC as the Christopher Nolan Dark Knight trilogy has ended and is free to relocate in the Marvel Cinematic Universe but given that the ‘Ancient One’ is Tibetan, would this casting be right for the part and with keeping as close to the comic books as is possible? Bill Nighy has never had any dealings with the MCU but has proven he can play a convinving and terrifying ancient mythical character three times over as the vampire ‘Viktor’ in Len Wiseman’s Underworld films. Ken Watanabe is probably the most likely choice of the three given the backstory and heritage of the character. His most recent film ‘Godzilla’ released earlier in 2014 was a box office hit putting him back into the spotlight for the first time since the buzz around ‘Inception’. He is also known for his role in ‘The Last Samurai’ for which he was nominated in the Best Supporting Actor category.

Back in 2012 and way before there was a confirmed Doctor Strange adaptation on the horizon, website ‘’ provided possible options for casting the main characters in the franchise and why they would be the best choice for Marvel to make should a film ever come to fruition. According to them, the perfect ‘Ancient One’ comes in the form of Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (Mortal Kombat) as the previous Sorcerer Supreme which leads us into thinking, where is he now and why is he not up for consideration. Tagawa has already been involved with a previous Marvel production portraying the character ‘Roshi’ in Elektra and although the release was a bomb at the box office and one of which the world has forgotten exists, the ties are still there and let’s face it, he already looks the part. The website also suggested casting Christian Bale as Baron Karl Modro which we also agree with and would be happy to see.
For those who are unfamiliar with the original comic books written by Steve Ditko in 1963, The Ancient One is the former ‘Sorcerer Supreme’ who after training ‘Baron Karl Modro’ –a lost cause to dark magic and expected to be the films antagonist, becomes Strange’s mentor instead, helping him to harness his newly acquired powers and setting him up to be his successor as the Sorcerer Supreme.
The Ancient One has a long and extremely detailed backstory which begins with his birth as a mortal in Kamar-Taj, a village in a hidden land in the Himalaya Mountains in the area (now known as Tibet) over five centuries ago. After an older villager named ‘Kaluu’ gained magical knowledge, he shared it with the young boy and together they began to explore the secrets of sorcery and learned how to harness mystical energy resulting in them aging at an incredibly slow rate, giving them 500 years of life. As with every good intention, there is the capacity for things to go South, and the two sorcerers headed in very different directions focusing on what we would call black magic and white magic.

The youth sought out an ancient order of sorcerers whose elder members were known as ‘Ancient Ones’ dedicated to protecting Earth from evil. Along the way he housed and trained a likely successor by the name of ‘Baron Karl Mordo’ who he believed possessed the potential to be good regardless of him swaying more towards being more anti-hero then hero. Later he was sought out by gifted surgeon ‘Dr Stephen Strange’ looking to cure his hands, which had been injured in an accident in a way that prevented him from being able to perform surgery.

We won’t say anymore due to plot spoilers and unconfirmed characters but it is safe to say, we are excited for the 2016 adaptation already!

What are your thoughts on who should fill these magical shoes? Are you happy for Marvel to choose one of the three rumoured or should they be looking at completely different actors? Let us know!

This is a developing story and we will update you as and when information/details become available.