Marvel fans have had their knickers in a knot since it was revealed last April that Tilda Swinton was cast as The Ancient One in the upcoming Doctor Strange movie. Traditionally, The Ancient One is an Asian character who is responsible for mentoring Dr Stephen Vincent Strange in the mystic arts. Tilda, you may have noticed, is not even remotely Asian, which prompted cries of whitewashing from furious fans.
Tilda addressed that in Entertainment Weekly this week:
“Anybody calling for more accurate representation of the diverse world we live in has got me standing right beside them,” says Swinton. “I think when people see this film, they’re going to see that it comes from a very diverse place, in all sorts of ways. Maybe this misunderstanding around this film has been an opportunity for that voice to be heard, and I’m not against that at all. But I do think that when people see the film, they’ll see that it’s not necessarily a target for that voice.”
Swinton previously addressed the controversy earlier this year, saying that she
“wasn’t asked to play an Asian character, you can be very well assured of that.”
Marvel issued a statement at that time, saying that 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.”
Director Scott Derrickson also responded to the uproar on Twitter, writing,
“Raw anger/hurt from Asian-Americans over Hollywood whitewashing, stereotyping & erasure of Asians in cinema. I am listening and learning.”
But not DOING anything about it, I see.
Many are claiming that Marvel needs the Chinese box office too badly to cast a Tibetan character, thus the retcon of The Ancient One as… what was it… Celtic?
Well, we’ll see how well it turns out for them when it comes out.
Doctor Strange, also starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Rachel McAdams, Mads Mikkelsen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Benedict Wong, opens in theaters on Nov. 4.