‘The Power of the Dog’: ‘Doctor Strange’s’ Benedict Cumberbatch and ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’s’ Kodi Smit-McPhee Discussed the Differences Between Adapting a Novel and a Comic Book

Get ready to see a lot more of Benedict Cumberbatch and Kodi Smit-McPhee. The pair star in the upcoming Netflix film The Power of the Dog. It is set to premiere in select theaters in November and on the streaming platform on Dec. 1, 2021.

Both actors’ performances have received rave reviews from the film’s run at the Venice and Telluride Film Festivals. You can bet we will see at least one of them on the Oscar red carpet.

Though both actors have made names for themselves in the independent film world, Cumberbatch and Smit-McPhee became household names by playing superheroes. 

Benedict Cumberbatch (L) and Kodi Smit-McPhee speak onstage during Netflix's 'Power Of The Dog' screening during the Toronto International Film Festival at the Princess of Wales Theatre on September 10, 2021 in Toronto, Ontario. They recently chatted about the differences between superhero and novel adaptations
Benedict Cumberbatch and Kodi Smit-McPhee | Ryan Emberley/Getty Images for Netflix

‘The Power of the Dog’ cast has two superheroes in their midst

In The Power of the Dog, Cumberbatch will star as Phil Burbank, a hardened and cruel Montana cowboy who actively tries to torture the people around him to hide his own insecurities. Smit-McPhee will play one of his victims and the new stepson of Phil’s brother George (Jesse Plemons). Kirsten Dunst will play McPhee’s mother. Top of the Lake and The Piano’s Jane Campion wrote and directed the film.

Before starring together on this upcoming Netflix film, Cumberbatch and Smit-McPhee both played Marvel superheroes.

Cumberbatch entered the Disney side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2014 when he was cast as Doctor Strange. He played the title role in the 2016 film and made appearances in other MCU films such as Thor: Ragnarok, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame. Cumberbatch voiced the character in the Disney+ animated show, What If…?

He will reprise his role in Spiderman: No Way Home and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. 

Kodi Smit-McPhee played Nightcrawler in Sony’s X-Men: Apocalypse, Deadpool 2, and Dark Phoenix. 

Benedict Cumberbatch and Kodi Smit-McPhee compared their time working on ‘The Power of the Dog’ and their superhero films

Cumberbatch and Smit-McPhee sat down to chat with Variety in mid-September 2021. They were asked about the differences between adapting a novel and a superhero movie. 

“They’re such different asks. It feels like a completely different musculature,” Cumberbatch said before commenting on the genres’ similarities. “Of course, that you’re still trying to get something that’s authentic and committed no matter what the scale of it, whether you’re acting with a great actor, or a ping pong ball that’s supposed to be some weird creature, it’s all imagination and commitment.”

Marvel movies are often known for their secrecy, and many of its stars go into these films with minimal information. Cumberbatch explained that The Power of the Dog’s script was solidified before you go into shooting.” As for the audiences, Smit McPhee said, “Equally, you have a hugely passionate audience waiting for the adaption.”

“There’ll be an intense literary audience that will know that book,” Cumberbatch replied. “And hopefully, a cinema audience waiting for Jane’s next work who will go, ‘I really want to read that book too.’Much bigger with the Hall H crowd, that expectation.”

Benedict Cumberbatch and Kodi Smit-McPhee are open to a ‘Doctor Strange’ ‘X-Men’ crossover

Since both actors play Marvel superheroes and Disney plans on add the X-Men into the MCU, we could see these two work together again. 

“We’ve talked about this. We loved working with each other, so we would love to do that jam. Of course, it’d be a very different vibe,” Cumberbatch noted. 

“It would be so cool,” Smit-McPhee added. “It’s an honor to play both sides of the spectrum, but it would be even more an honor to cross paths again with someone you grew so close with on something so theatrical, something like this, and then to go to something fun like that — it would be great.”

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