We’ll be delving into Doctor Strange by discovering the character’s origins in the highly anticipated film, due next November. One of the ways we’ll get to know the character is by seeing him trained by his mysterious mentor, the Ancient One. When Tilda Swinton was cast in the role, it brought up a lot of questions about how the Marvel Cinematic Universe was going to handle the, traditionally, male and Asian role. Now, we might finally have a bit more information on the film’s version of the character.
…we use the term ‘her’ and ‘she’ in the film but, other than that, it’s very androgynous. Because it doesn’t matter.
Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige talked to Entertainment Weekly about how Tilda Swinton fits into the part of the Ancient One for the Doctor Strange movie. And, well, it sounds like there’s really no use in trying to pin down a gender for the Ancient One, since the filmmakers aren’t concerned about it one way or the other.
Earlier in the interview, Kevin Feige makes note of the fact that Marvel is "never afraid to change," and they always look for ways to change up characters and established comic storylines. Feige explains that the new interpretation of the Ancient One easily incorporates Tilda Swinton into the part, since it’s a title that can be passed along, instead of the name of an actual person. And, because they like changing things up, the idea of the character being played by a woman seemed novel.
It’s no surprise that Kevin Feige isn’t in the mood to declare the Ancient One female, considering the casting of Tilda Swinton. She has an androgynous feel in many of the movies she’s been in, and has even played on that in Orlando, with a character whose gender actually switched back and forth in the film, and in Constantine, where she played an ambiguous angel Gabriel. Swinton is used to attention being paid to the way her characters look, but even she is cagey about whether or not her version of the Ancient One is female.
I wouldn’t know how to answer that one. I think it’s all in the eye of the beholder.
In general, Tilda Swinton does a fantastic job of throwing herself into her roles and, often, becoming completely unrecognizable. Films like Snowpiercer, The Grand Budapest Hotel and even this summer’s Trainwreck have seen the actress change her physical appearance to startling degrees. I can bet that we’ll all be awed when we finally get a look at Swinton’s Ancient One, and there’s no way she won’t be creepy, enigmatic and cool as hell. And, I bet anyone who needs to know if they’re watching a male or female character soon won’t care much at all.