While speaking with Collider's Frosty, actor Keanu Reeves was asked if he was interested in Marvel or DC roles. Bringing-up the fan demand to see him take-on the Doctor Strange role, now vacated by Joaquin Phoenix. His statements are genuinely interesting, but as we well know Keanu isn't a champion of sequels. You can see his reaction in the video, when Frosty explains how many Marvel films are involved with their contract.
"From a practical standpoint the idea of a longtime contract is sort of “errr” because you want to make sure the material is up to a certain level. Like the good or great level. I like the idea. I go to those kinds of movies. I grew up on them and comics and graphic novels. [But] I didn’t know Doctor Strange as a character, I didn’t read that as a kid. I’m gonna have to read it. I remember reading something… who’s going to play Doctor Strange? Would I be good for the role?"
Reeves' new film John Wick is apparently a beast and will be making quite the impact later this month. As we've heard many times Marvel chases heat, and Keanu might be on fire again with this action flick. It doesn't hurt that movies like Point Break, The Matrix and Speed have proven that in the right action film, he can shine pretty damn brightly.
After hearing this suggestion, I don't actual mind the idea of Keanu Reeves in the role. We've supported him in even odder pictures with The Matrix sequels and Constantine. I also think having an actor with an asian and polynesian background might actually change things up a bit in the Marvel lineup. There are actually a lot of asian elements to Strange's origins, so it would make sense to at least consider hiring an Asian actor. I
I've ranted about the need for Black Panther and Captain Marvel movies getting made to help diversify the Marvel cinematic universe lineup. Perhaps, hiring actors with different backgrounds might also be the key here. Marvel was piss-scared of hiring an Asian actor even for The Mandarin in Iron Man 3. You'd think with China, Japan and other Asian countries being huge box office markets they'd want to represent that demographic a bit more. It's actually disturbing the amount of white-guys leading these films. When we live in a very diverse world, the Western world is a giant melting-pot of different cultures. Sad these films ignore that point of reality, even in fantasy films. Casting Keanu Reeves won't change the problem, but at least it would be the start of it.
Doctor Strange includes two major Asian characters Doc's pal Wong and his teacher The Ancient One. There could be sensitivity issues brought-up here as Wong might be seen as an outdated stereotype. I'm hopeful they'll reinvent the role to a modern standard, making him more of a partner to Stephen. Seeing him fighting alongside Strange, during mystical/occult battles. It would actually be easy to mess-up the Ancient One as well, but it's unknown if he'll even be in the film. There's chatter that he might only show-up in flashbacks, as Strange might be already setup as the Sorcerer Supreme in the opening of the film.
We've actually seen this done well with Fox's X-Men franchise (The Wolverine, Days of Future Past), which for the most part has respected the cultures and actors. I know to some that Iron Fist is the property that might best suit Asian casting, but this goes back to stereotyping and racist thinking (only roles Asian can get are martial arts experts or villains). Then again, Fist is a television property and not film.
Marvel was smart enough to give us a Japanese-American Howling Commando with Jim Morita in Captain America: The First Avenger. Representing the many Japanese-American soldiers who bravely served during the war. Even though there was mistreatment of the Japanese population with those awful internment camps back home. It was actually one of the few times Marvel got the casting right everywhere, even Peggy Carter had some great scenes. Her fan support was so great she's getting her own series on ABC with Agent Carter. We might actually be seeing the return of Kenneth Choi in that series, but that remains to be seen.
Marvel has switched-up perceived ideals of what actors should play what roles, based on background. It might be nice to see the studio considering this moving forward with their future plans, that include Doctor Strange and other major lead heroes. Not just supporting roles. Women and visible minorities deserve a place at the Marvel table.