Although Marvel Studios’ upcoming Doctor Strange film looks like an amazing adventure, that hasn’t prevented it from garnering its fair share of controversy. The casting and portrayal of The Ancient One by white actress Tilda Swinton has not gone over well with a large portion of audiences, with many leveling accusations of whitewashing against the film. However, Marvel hasn’t taken these accusations lying down. The studio has just released a statement explaining that Tilda Swinton can easily portray The Ancient One because this version of the character is Celtic, and not Tibetan.
According to a new report from Mashable, Marvel Studios has just issued a statement clarifying the origins of this new version of The Ancient One. In stark contrast to the character’s traditionally Asian heritage, Marvel Studios has actually opted to make Tilda Swinton’s iteration of the Marvel character Celtic, rather than Tibetan. The Marvel Cinematic Universe will treat The Ancient One as a title passed down from individual to individual, rather than any one singular person.
Considering the tight spot Marvel Studios finds itself in with this situation, altering the actual origins of The Ancient One seems like a fairly smart call. In many ways it feels similar to what Warner Bros. did to Ra’s al Ghul in Batman Begins by making the character a title, which then allows the movie to easily explain why a well-known white performer can logically take on the role.
Despite the accusations of racism, Marvel has stood by its decision to cast Tilda Swinton as the smartest possible decision. In fact, the film’s co-writer C. Robert Cargill recently came out and made firm statements that the character’s origins in the source material are rooted in racial caricatures, and casting a Chinese actor for Tibetan character would not have represented a better option for the studio as a whole. When it comes to international box office performance, everyone knows you don’t piss off China.
Check out Tilda Swinton’s portrayal of The Ancient One in first official Doctor Strange trailer below to get a better look at the Celtic take on the classic character:
At the end of the day it seems like any decision would have offended someone in this particular scenario. Marvel Studios did the best it could with what it had, and it ultimately seems like the Doctor Strange film has found a happy medium between old and new elements of the existing Marvel mythos.
We will keep you up to date with the latest and greatest Doctor Strange news as it becomes available to us. The long-awaited Phase 3 Marvel film will finally make its way to theaters on November 4.