5 Marvel Characters We'd Love To See Joaquin Phoenix Play

Let's face it -– Benedict Cumberbatch is perfect as Doctor Strange. His dry wit and natural ability to shrug off enemies with nothing more than a raised eyebrow makes him the only choice for Marvel's most famous sorcerer. But did you know that Joaquin Phoenix was once up for the role?

Ultimately, he passed on "Doctor Strange" for some pretty good reasons, and explained that he felt it all turned out for the best: "I think that everybody was, is ... I'm trying to figure out how to say this most diplomatically, okay ... I think everybody was really happy with how things turned out. All parties were satisfied" (per Cinema Blend).

Eventually, Benedict Cumberbatch nabbed the role, becoming one of the most important characters in the MCU post "Avengers: Endgame." And while Phoenix ended up playing a different iconic comic book role in "Joker," it looks as though he may still consider a Marvel movie in the future, as he clarified in the same interview. "I think they make some great, fun movies. There's nothing wrong ... I'm not a f—ing, like, cinephile. I'm not a snob," he said. "I enjoy those movies sometimes, and I think they keep the f—ing industry going in some ways, so I don't have a problem with it at all."

Which Marvel character should he play? We've got a few ideas...


Phoenix may have passed on "Doctor Strange" but what about one of his mystical adversaries? Doctor Strange made his comic book debut in 1963, in Strange Tales #110. "Doctor Strange Master of Black Magic!" put the new sorceror superhero up against a brand-new villain –- Nightmare. And if you ask me, that villain would make a great role for Phoenix.

Nightmare is the Lord of Dreams, one of the mysterious Fear Lords who derives power from the fear of others –- in this case, transporting them to his terrifying Splinter Realm to torture and torment them. He was also a servant of Shuma-Gorath, who is expected to appear in the upcoming "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" (under the name "Gargantos").

Plaguing his victims with nightmares and hallucinations, Nightmare feels like a great fit for Phoenix, who can dig into the psychology behind the creepiness in a very Joker-like way. He would also make a great foil for Benedict Cumberbatch's Doctor Strange -– the pair going up against each other as an ironic bit of casting, considering Phoenix's brush with Strange. And let's face it, with the multiverse torn open in the upcoming "Doctor Strange" sequel, this would be a great time to introduce the Splinter Realms and the horrors that await within.

Doctor Doom

Another magic-wielding character, Doctor Doom, would once again make a great foil for Benedict Cumberbatch's Doctor Strange ... but would also make sense going toe-to-toe with other heroes from across the MCU.

Doctor Doom made his comic book debut in 1962, in "The Fantastic Four" #5, where he pits himself against Marvel's first family. His powers are largely magic-based, having been trained in the mystic arts by his mother, but he's just as well-known (if not more so) for being a tech genius, as seen by his armor — a combination of skills that makes him one of Marvel's most formidable antagonists. He has appeared throughout numerous Fantastic Four comics as the group's arch-villain (and was last seen on the big screen played by Toby Kebbell... but we don't talk about that).

Still, I can't help thinking that Joaquin Phoenix could make a great Doctor Doom. He's got the acting chops to pull off a stellar performance from behind an iron mask, with all of the emotional complexity to give the character more depth. But will we see Doctor Doom on the big screen anytime soon?

There were plans to give Doctor Doom his own spin-off movie from director Noah Hawley. But with Marvel now in charge of the Fantastic Four once again, it's unknown whether this project will ever see the light of day. Either way, he's bound to appear in a future MCU movie, and casting Joaquin Phoenix could be an inspired choice.


Sure, Phoenix doesn't look much like Mojo, but then again, who does? The half-mechanical, extradimensional villain certainly has a unique silhouette, as he uses mechanical spider-like legs to creep around. Mojo debuted in the comic books in 1985 in "Longshot" #3 and is one of the Spineless Ones -– a race of spineless beings who inhabit a pocket dimension known as the Mojoverse. 

Imagine having an entire dimension named after you. Big deal, right?

What makes Mojo interesting is that he's obsessed with TV in a gladiatorial way. Think the Hedonism bot from "Futurama" crossed with Commodus from "Gladiator" and you'll get the idea. Mojo essentially pits heroes against each other in deadly games while he acts as a sort of twisted game show host. It's a role we've seen Phoenix do before, too -– the aforementioned Commodus, which saw him nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the 73rd Academy Awards. Throw in a touch of his "Joker" showmanship and Phoenix will be off to a flying start as the obnoxious but truly deadly Mojo. It may be more of a mo-cap or voice acting role, but I can't help thinking that Phoenix would really take to the part, bringing this caricature to life with maniacal levity. And with the multiverse open for business, it's entirely possible.

Whether or not Phoenix would even entertain the role is another thing entirely.


As the son of Wolverine, it's no secret that Daken has some ... issues. Orphaned during an attack on his pregnant mother, Itsu, he eventually tracked down his biological dad after a harsh childhood raised by a wealthy Japanese couple. He's the kind of comic book character I think Phoenix would have a hell of time characterizing, with the tormented mutant providing ample opportunity for him to dig deep.

Daken made his first full comic book appearance in 2007 in "Wolverine: Origins" #11, and later took up the mantle of Wolverine when he joined the Dark Avengers in 2009. That's right, he became one of the first Dark Avengers, alongside Norman Osborn as Iron Patriot, Sentry, Ares, Venom, Bullseye, and more.

This wouldn't be the first Dark Avenger to enter the MCU, either. By the end of "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier," we saw a hint that John Walker would suit up as U.S. Agent, under the guidance of Contessa Valentina Allegra De Fontaine. Marvel boss Kevin Feige admitted that she's looking to recruit more super-powered team members, also noting Val's choice to send Yelena after Clint Barton at the end of "Black Widow." As Feige said, "She seems to be in recruitment mode. Does Yelena already work for her? They seem to have a connection at that point. Yes."

And with a legendary X-Man appearing in a recent "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" trailer, it feels as though there could be a way for her to get to Daken, too.


Obviously, I've saved the best for last. After Hugh Jackman hung up his adamantium claws with "Logan," I can't help thinking that Joaquin Phoenix would make an excellent Wolverine. I mean, just look at him. Joaquin Phoenix's stint as Larry "Doc" Sportello in "Inherent Vice" showcases exactly how great he would look as Wolverine. But while he certainly has the look, could Phoenix walk the walk?

We've seen Phoenix take on plenty of leading roles, but his role in "The Sisters Brothers" might hint at a crucial vulnerability within the overtly masculine role of Wolverine. And when you look at how adeptly he portrayed the shattered memories of Arthur Fleck in "Joker," it's clear that Phoenix could well bring a truly deep portrayal of our favorite X-Man.

Wolverine is one of the most iconic "X-Men" characters, first introduced to the comic books in 1974 in The Incredible Hulk #181 before starring in the "X-Men" revival in 1975. His claws and healing factor have made him one of the most recognizable mutants, and with the "X-Men" presumably heading to the MCU soon, I can't help thinking they'll need a Wolverine ... at least, if Hugh Jackman isn't interested in returning to the role. Thankfully, the multiverse allows for different versions of our favorite characters to turn up and could provide an excellent opportunity to have Joaquin Phoenix take on the role. But it would be no small role, with incredibly big shoes to fill, and certainly multiple films.

Still, I can't help thinking Joaquin Phoenix would be up to the challenge ... and his formidable acting chops would only be matched by those formidable mutton chops. Just look at them. They're glorious.