A good portion of Doctor Strange’s supporting cast from the comics will appear in his movie this November. Chiwetel Ejiofor is playing fellow sorcerer Baron Mordo, Tilda Swinton is playing Strange’s mentor The Ancient One, and Michael Stuhlbarg is playing Strange’s scientist rival Nicodemus West (Rachel McAdams and Mads Mikkelsen’s characters haven’t been revealed yet). Now another mainstay from the Sorcerer Supreme’s world has been added, as the 2016 blockbuster has found the actor to play his sidekick, Wong.
Marco Polo star Benedict Wong (how appropriate) has been cast as Wong in Doctor Strange, according to THR. While no details were provided about his specific role in the movie, like his comic book counterpart, the MCU’s Wong will help Strange with his sorcery and everyday affairs, including, as the report notes, performing healing duties, assisting in occult matters, and watching over Strange’s body when he’s projecting his astral self into other dimensions. No doubt the actor sharing his last name with his character and his first name with the movie’s star was a humorous coincidence not lost on the cast and crew.
Making his comic book debut at the same time as Doctor Strange in 1963, Wong, descended from a family of monks, was assigned by The Ancient One to go with Stephen Strange to the United States and serve him on his quest to keep the world safe from supernatural threats. As the years passed, he and Stephen Strange have become close friends, and Wong has been an ally to several other Marvel heroes.
Although Wong isn’t able to harness magic by himself, he is quite knowledgeable about the mystical arts from studying under Strange. In addition to being handy around the Sanctum Sanctorum, Wong is also a skilled martial artist, making him useful in dealing with non powered adversaries. Outside of the comics, Wong appeared in the ‘90s Spider-Man animated series and the 2007 animated movie Doctor Strange: the Sorcerer Supreme.
Benedict Wong the actor is best known for playing Kublai Khan in the Netflix series Marco Polo. His other notable credits include Prometheus, Kick-Ass 2, Johnny English Reborn, and The Martian. It’s worth noting that the actor is older than Benedict Cumberbatch, as opposed to in the comics where the character Wong is younger than Strange. For Doctor Strange’s contemporary take on Wong, it seems unlikely that he will be perform the traditional manservant role from the original stories. Instead, he’ll likely be on more equal footing with the Sorcerer Supreme, though not from a magical standpoint. Marvel is also probably taking other careful steps to ensure this version of Wong doesn’t resemble the stereotypical version seen in the early years.
Doctor Strange casts its spell on moviegoers November 4, 2016.