When the first trailer for Marvel’s Doctor Strange debuted, most fans were excited to see the Sorcerer Supreme finally realized on screen. Through the cheers however, came an uproar over Tilda Swinton’s casting as “The Ancient One,” with some people labeling it as “whitewashing.”
In an official statement sent to Mashable, Marvel Studios defended the hiring, citing both the character’s background and the progressiveness of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It read:
Marvel has a very strong record of diversity in its casting of films and regularly departs from stereotypes and source material to bring its MCU to life. The Ancient One is a title that is not exclusively held by any one character, but rather a moniker passed down through time, and in this particular film the embodiment is Celtic. We are very proud to have the enormously talented Tilda Swinton portray this unique and complex character alongside our richly diverse cast.
The controversial casting was also commented on by the film’s writer, C. Robert Cargill, who compared the issue to Star Trek’s “Kobayashi Maru,” an intentionally, un-winnable training exercise for starship captains-in-training. Cargill believes that critics were bound to take issue no matter who was hired. He also discussed the politics behind the scenes, saying:
“[The Ancient One] originates from Tibet, so if you acknowledge that Tibet is a place and that he’s Tibetan, you risk alienating one billion people who think that that’s bullsh*t and risk the Chinese government going, ‘Hey, you know one of the biggest film-watching countries in the world? We’re not going to show your movie because you decided to get political.”
Whatever your thoughts on the matter, you’ll be able make up your own mind on whether or not their casting of Swinton is the right move for the Ancient One. The Phase Three entry is directed by Sinister and The Exorcism of Emily Rose director Scott Derrickson from a script by Prometheus writer Jon Spaihts and Cargill. The movie stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Mads Mikkelsen, Rachel McAdams,Tilda Swinton and Benedict Wong. Doctor Strange arrives in theaters November 4th.