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It seems Marvel's search for its Doctor Strange is starting over: A new report says long-rumored lead Joaquin Phoenix has bailed on talks to take the part.

Deadline writes that negotiations between the comics studio and the actor are now "kaput," and that Phoenix "never had a deal" to begin with. Phoenix had been widely reported as the number one choice to play the superhero in an upcoming standalone Marvel flick.

According to Variety, Phoenix's trepidation over signing a multi-year, multi-film contract -- a Marvel Cinematic Universe staple these days -- is what caused the actor to get cold feet and end talks with the studio. Instead, Deadline reports that Marvel has already zeroed in on a laundry list of other potential leads, with Tom Hardy, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Jared Leto all in the mix. (Those names had been floated before, too.)

Deadline adds that recent rumors that Ethan Hawke had been offered the part have been greatly exaggerated. Stay tuned to see who Marvel snags for the project.

"Doctor Strange," written by Jon Spaihts and directed by Scott Derrickson, doesn't have a release date yet.

[via: Deadline, h/t Variety]

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