There is a rumor floating around that Benedict Cumberbatch was never considered for Star Wars Episode VII. Disney was tricking the internet! They didn’t want you to know he was in Marvel’s Doctor Strange!
I am not buying it at face value. Why would they run the risk of negative association with their newest, biggest, and unproven IP (under the new ownership)? The rumor makes a lot of people happy and a lot of people sad. In the end, it irresponsibly plays with the emotions of the fan base. It is detrimental. The bad outweighs the good.
If true, it is insanely stupid. Because there will be backlash after the film is released. Anything as huge as Star Wars comes with a lot of backlash. No matter how great Star Wars Episode VII is, there will be those that find reasons to get their Underoos in a twist. So what will become of the discourse? I can tell you. They will say “they should have got Benedict Cumberbatch like they were going to at first instead of John Doe.” So now, even a pretty good performance by any role Cumberbatch could potentially play will be compared to a fantasy performance by Cumberbatch.
Why don’t they shoot down the rumors? Because there is value in the red herring effect of it. It already exists. If they say “Cumberbatch is not and never was up for a role in Star Wars Episode VII,” the spoiler sites will simply claim Disney is lying to you and trying to trick you. Since it already exists, it is better to just leave the rumor alone rather than risk empowering it further. Or maybe he is being considered and no choices have been made? Either way…
The idea that they would create a Star Wars rumor to keep Doctor Strange‘s secrets just seems more detrimental than it is worth. So people know Cumberbatch is playing Doctor Strange? So what? It ruins their announcement? Okay, a little. But that’s nothing compared to tarnishing Star Wars for a portion of the fan base.
Who knows? Maybe it is accurate. Surely though, Cumberbatch’s association with Star Wars, prefabricated or not, has driven up his demand and exposure considerably. Is that a ramification Disney wants? If Cumberbatch is playing Doctor Strange but the deal isn’t finalized, he can probably demand more money or take a higher paying gig. If he has signed on, why wait six months to announce it? It just seems like there is more to lose from making up such a rumor. Everyone in the universe has been rumored to be in Star Wars Episode VII. Cumberbatch’s rumor is the only one that has had longevity. There’s enough red herrings with Star Wars generated by us fans that Disney doesn’t need to create any.
Anything is possible. But I see the pendulum swinging more towards the false end of the spectrum.