Darth Plaguesis? Thrawn? An unknown Sith under the control of Force Ghost Palpatine? Any of these are possible with director J.J. Abrams in control of Star Wars: Episode VII, as the first real casting news starts to come into focus. Yesterday, it broke that Benedict Cumberbatch will be the first actor announced for the upcoming sequel. At the time, it wasn't known whom he'd be playing, or if he would side with the Jedi or Sith.

More news has surfaced in regards to this leaked casting announcement today, with Badass Digest claiming that Benedict Cumberbatch is currently in talks to play the main bad guy of the entire new trilogy. While this comes from trusted sources, those sources did not say if the bad guy was a Sith, or some other unknown foe lurking about the galaxy. But most signs point to the actor being a Sith Lord, possibly Force Ghost Palpatine's apprentice?

The Benedict Cumberbatch rumor has been floating around for some time, with many major sites sitting on the news for the past week. Disney and Lucasfilm, and representatives for the actor all denied the story, which is why it wasn't revealed in a trade publication. If, and when, the news becomes official, expect to see it announced on Lucasfilm's own official website.

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Benedict Cumberbatch dropped out of Guillermo del Toro's Crimson Peak last month, with no reason given. Most now believe that Star Wars: Episode VII was the reason for his departure. There are also other commitments the Star Trek Into Darkness actor will have to break if he does sign on. Right now, it's believed talks are still ongoing. And it may not even come together, which is another reason we haven't heard it officially announced.

A rep for the actor had this to say.

"There is no truth to the rumor Benedict has been cast in Star Wars . I think the rumors are circling because J.J. and Benedict have just recently had a wonderful time working together on Star Trek Into Darkness."

We have to take this denial with a grain of salt, as this usually happens when a story breaks too soon.

This is an important time at Disney, as casting continues to come together for their other 2015 blockbuster The Avengers: Age of Ultron. On Thursday, James Spader was announced as the voice of Ultron, the main bad guy. And we are still awaiting official confirmation that Elizabeth Olsen is Scarlet Witch. There may be more casting news in terms of characters we haven't been made aware of yet. And it's likely that Disney is trying to capitalize on the publicity of each individual casting story for full impact, especially in an age when something like Ben Affleck becoming Batman stays at the top of a news cycle for weeks after the initial announcement is made.

There have been multiple rumors that Star Wars: Episode VII is stuck in development Hell, and that its not coming together as quickly as Disney had hoped. At D23 this past August, the studio remained steadfast that we would see the first of many new Star Wars movies in 2015 as promised. Shortly after this, we began hearing that it would be a Christmas 2015 release. None of this has yet to be confirmed by the studio.

Its expected that the first real Star Wars: Episode VII casting news will drop this week, most likely on Thursday. Not only will Benedict Cumberbatch be confirmed, but so will the long awaited announcement of Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams and Anthony Daniels.

It should be noted that J.J. Abrams hid Benedict Cumberbatch's true character identity leading up to the release of Star Trek Into Darkness. Many have joked that, while Thrawn has already been denied by Lucasfilm, Benedict's character will eventually be revealed as this particular villain. Whatever we hear in the coming weeks or months will likely be shrouded in some sort of mystery, and its doubtful we'll know whom exactly the actor is playing until we are in our seats watching the film.

What are your thoughts? Does Benedict Cumberbatch make for the kind of trilogy villain you want to see? Also, should J.J. Abrams be combining the worlds of Star Trek and Star Wars? Thus far, we'd been led to believe actors from either franchise wouldn't be making a crossover. With Benedict Cumberbatch possibly coming back in Star Trek 3, is this blasphemous in terms of both franchises?

B. Alan Orange at Movieweb
B. Alan Orange