In delightful "alternate reality" news, some official early concept art showing Ryan Gosling as Doctor Strange is gleefully making its way around the internet right now, providing the world with a glimpse at what could have been. Initially shared by noted concept artist, Court Chu, on his blog back in Nov. 2016, the artwork reveals a mock-up of Gosling wearing Doctor Strange's cape, pairing it with the character's iconic white hair streak and looking like a total old-school Hollywood dreamboat in the process.
Chu, who has worked on such films as Wonder Woman, War For The Planet Of The Apes, and Silence, claimed in the post that the artwork was from "years ago" when "they wanted Gosling" for the role of the Sorcerer Supreme. He further elaborated that he spent "not even a day" on the artwork, which is a damn shame because I can tell you right now that I'm going to spend far more than a day thinking about it.
And that's honestly due to the fact that I'm kind of obsessed with the very notion of events that could have been, but never were. Especially when those events involve Gosling and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. So I can't help but wonder, would Doctor Strange have been much different with Gosling playing the lead role? Because, thinking about it, him and Benedict Cumberbatch (who went on to portray the powerful Sorcerer) do share some similar star qualities, which may have been considered when casting the part.
For starters, both of the actors utterly ooze a talent and charm that is very much of the old-school, classic Hollywood ilk. They're quietly alluring, utterly commanding, and both have the power to silently express multitudes with little more than a nuanced raise of the eyebrow or wry smirk.
Something which I think would likely come in handy when playing a character who can manipulate forces and conjure mystical energy — that physical power of suggestion. You know, kind of like what Gosling did to your heart as Noah in The Notebook all those years back.
However, there's also the fact that the two actors share a spectacular talent for being utterly believable as the majority of characters that they portray. Though both Gosling and Cumberbatch have what can only be described as incredibly striking looks, they each transform completely into whatever character they're inhabiting on screen.
As Alan Turing in The Imitation Game, Cumberbatch's celebrity and notoriety for portraying Sherlock Holmes for so long weren't distracting in the least bit. From the second he appeared on screen in the role, all of that baggage completely dissolved.
So too with Gosling, whose ability to star within a broad set of genres and tackle a variety of complex roles with extravagant finesse is always evident. Be it the heartbreaking subtlety of Dean in Blue Valentine or his on-point, comedic turn in The Nice Guys, you'll lose yourself in his performances, to the point where you no longer see the actor anymore.
And with that in mind, I truly don't think that the casting of Gosling instead of Cumberbatch would have made all that much of a difference to the finished product. Both are charming, critically acclaimed, and highly esteemed actors, capable of portraying any role with an incredible ease.
In all likelihood, both could have knocked this role out of the park with equal mastery. Except there is, unfortunately, one final glaring aspect of Doctor Strange which would have made the casting of Gosling just about the best thing ever. And that would have been in Gosling reuniting with Rachel McAdams (who played Christine Palmer in the movie).
That's right, guys — we came incredibly close to enjoying a cinematic reunion of Allie and Noah from The Notebook. And in a movie so full of sorcery and mysticism, that would have been the most magical thing of all. Well, to me at least.