For a long time, Marvel had their eye on Joaquin Phoenix to star in 'Doctor Strange.' In fact, he was far enough along in his negotiations that Marvel hoped to bring him out on stage at Comic-Con to introduce him to the crowd. Phoenix, in case you haven't noticed, is mercurial and negotiations stalled. And, then they stalled some more. And, then finally Marvel decided to move on completely. Now, here we are back at square one as Marvel has a completely new shortlist of actors to star in their next superhero film. We previously told you about Ewan McGregor, but who else does Marvel have their eye on?

Variety is reporting that Matthew McConaughey, Jake Gyllenhaal, Jared Leto, Oscar Isaac and Ethan Hawke on their shortlist to star as Dr. Stephen Strange. How far along each of them are in meeting or talking with Marvel remains to be seen. Some of these names are older - Jared Leto's name was one of the first to be bandied about - and some are new.

While Marvel gambled on the untested Chris Pratt for 'Guardians of the Galaxy,' they clearly are looking for an actor with a higher profile for 'Doctor Strange.' McConaughey, Leto and Phoenix are all Oscar winners, Ethan Hawke an Oscar nominee, Jake Gyllenhaal is an A-list star and Oscar Isaac will be huge when 'Star Wars: Episode 7' opens.

Sadly, much of this list feels like fancasting. Marvel can cast a very wide net when looking for actors thanks to their success, but we can't imagine a world where Matthew McConaughey follows up 'Dallas Buyers Club' and 'Interstellar' with a Marvel movie. It's possible, but it seems more like a "let's shoot for the moon" attempt by Marvel. The Variety report seems to indicate that both Leto and Gyllenhaal are a little further along in talks. After the Phoenix talks stalled, Leto is reportedly "aggressively pursuing" the role, while Gyllenhaal is "quite interested" in the part. Ethan Hawke is also listed as a possibility, but very recently there were reports claiming that the actor wasn't part of Marvel's plans (despite his close ties to director Scott Derrickson).

So, what now? We'd guess that McConaughey and Isaac aren't serious candidates, but Ewan McGregor, Jared Leto and Jake Gyllenhaal could all be meeting with Marvel execs for a job that is suddenly wide open.

'Doctor Strange' opens in theaters on July 8, 2016.

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