Cumberbatch had been rumoured to play Stephen Strange back in October, and the reactions ran the predictable gamut from high praise to the declaration of the apocalypse.
Scott Derrickson (Sinister) is calling the shots on this one, working from a script by Jon Spaihts (Prometheus). They will bring to life the character originally conjured by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. He starts his story as a selfish New York surgeon who loses his professional skills in a car crash. After falling on hard times, he visits a healer in the Himalayas known as The Ancient One, and learns to tap into psychic and magical powers. In recognition of his selfless efforts to thwart evil fellow disciple Baron Mordo, he's taught the mystical arts and sets out to defeat other shady sorcerers and various villains.
"Stephen Strange's story requires an actor capable of great depth and sincerity," said producer Kevin Feige in a statement from the company. "In 2016, Benedict will show audiences what makes Doctor Strange such a unique and compelling character."
There's a chance he could – like Chadwick Boseman's (42) Black Panther and Captain America: Civil War – be introduced before his solo film, especially since Avengers: Age Of Ultron is due for some additional shooting next month. But if he doesn't score a cameo or an end credits sting there or elsewhere, Doctor Strange will appear on our screens on 18 July 2016.
For those needing their Cumberbatch fix before then, he has voice roles in Penguins Of Madagascar on 5 December and The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies, featuring his performance capture work as Smaug and the Necromancer which arrives this Friday.