Benecit Cumberbatch, in contention for awards with The Imitation Game, is in the frame to join the Marvel Studios universe as Doctor Strange.

According to sources, Marvel Studios has selected the British star to play the Sorcerer Supreme and is starting negotiations.

Strange is the most unearthly character that Marvel Studios has mined from the vaults since Thor and Loki.

A former neurosurgeon, he is tasked with protecting earth from magical and mystical threats.

Scott Derrickson, whose most recent film was the summer release Deliver Us From Evil, will direct the project, set for release in July 2016.

Joaquin Phoenix had been linked with the role.

Marvel Studios declined to comment.