DOCTOR STRANGE is already pulling off quite the magic trick. While Marvel Studios has yet to officially announce it is being made, the film has taken to the astral plane to preserve the rapid pace of its development. A new screenwriter has been hired, a familiar name has popped up on the wish list again, and director Scott Derrickson is speaking publicly about landing the job that does not yet exist.

Deadline exclusively reports that Jon Spaihts (PROMETHEUS) has been negotiating with Marvel to write the script for DOCTOR STRANGE. It is not known whether Spaihts is starting over from scratch, or will be building upon the draft already written by Thomas Dean Donnelly and Joshua Oppenheimer. Derrickson is sure to have his own thoughts on the script as well.

In the same article, Deadline’s Mike Fleming says he’s heard Jared Leto is on Marvel’s short list for the title role along with Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hardy. This is the second time we’ve seen Leto’s name mentioned for the role, as Badass Digest heard similar whispers a couple weeks ago. Fresh off his Oscar win for DALLAS BUYERS CLUB, Leto is certainly not lacking in talent and could make for a very charismatic Stephen Strange.

It would be a major win for Marvel to get Leto, but it’s worth noting that the commitment the studio typically asks of its franchise actors (six films, at least) could be a sticking point. Leto has no shortage of acting offers at the moment and shooting a Marvel movie every other year could be a problem for Leto’s musical passion with his band, 30 Seconds to Mars.

Director Scott Derrickson has not shed any light on which actor will be his star, but in a recent interview with JoBlo, he discussed his connection to DOCTOR STRANGE from the character’s earliest comic book appearances and how badly he wanted this job.

I think when you consider the work that I’ve done it makes sense that he’d be my favorite comic book character, at least in the Marvel universe. Probably the only comic character in that mainstream world that I’m suited to. I feel such an affinity for the character and the story and the ambition of those comics, especially the original Stan Lee and Steve Ditko “Strange Tales” – I think those are my favorite of all of them. The entire history of the comics is extraordinary.

I wanted it really bad. More than any other project that I’ve gone after, I felt compelled to do everything in my power to get on that project. Genuinely felt like I was the right guy to do it.

Derrickson’s passion is reminiscent of James Gunn’s love for GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY. It’s always nice to see a true fan get the opportunity to guide a classic comic book character to the silver screen. It is most important, however, that the individual be a talented filmmaker which Scott Derrickson definitely is. SINISTER is one of the better horror films I’ve seen in recent years and its occult themes are transferrable to DOCTOR STRANGE even if the tone of will be very different.

You can read more of the interview including Derrickson’s thoughts on the fan reaction HERE. You can also see Derrickson’s directing abilities on display in DELIVER US FROM EVIL on July 2, 2014.

Expect Marvel Studios to officially announce DOCTOR STRANGE at San Diego Comic Con next month with a probable release date of July 8, 2016.

If you want to read up on the Sorcerer Supreme, I recommend DOCTOR STRANGE: THE OATH, a 2006 mini-series written by Brian K. Vaughan and drawn by Marcos Martin. The limitless possibilities of magic are at war with Stephen Strange’s ethical responsibilities as a medical doctor when his most trusted friend appears to be losing a battle with cancer.