This November, the Marvel Cinematic will finally bring magic into the fold with Doctor Strange. While this promises to be one of the more surreal big screen adventures, the movie has also been shadowed with controversy over Tilda Swinton being cast as The Ancient One, a character who is Asian in the comics, highlighting this decision as another example of "whitewashing." Swinton previously addressed this issue a few months back when she said that she was never hired to play an Asian character, but now she's addressing the movie's representation overall in a new response. In her words:
Tilda Swinton provided this statement to EW, stating that Doctor Strange will be diverse, but noting that many have used the movie as a way to call for more diversity and inclusion in Hollywood. This is one of the recent examples of outcry over Hollywood often choosing white actors to lead blockbusters regardless of the lack of Asian representation in the business, whether it's going against source material, like casting Scarlett Johansson in Ghost in the Shell or adding a "white savior" in a story that doesn't necessarily need one, like Matt Damon playing the lead protagonist in The Great Wall.
Not long after the initial Ancient One controversy reached a new level when the teaser trailer dropped, Marvel issued a statement saying that Doctor Strange's iteration of the powerful sorcerer is Celtic, and that she is just one of the many individuals to hold the Ancient One title. However, that did not alleviate complaints from a good portion of both comic book fans and media lovers, with some suggesting Marvel should have casted an Asian woman so that the character's ethnic background would still be faithful to the comics and add more diversity to the movie.
On the other, more blunt side of issue, Doctor Strange writer C. Robert Cargill said that the reason The Ancient One wasn't made Asian in the movie was because the original iteration of the character was a racist caricature that would alienate Chinese moviegoers because he was from Tibet. However, one could argue that Kamar-Taj, the training ground where the Ancient One and the other Masters of the Mystic Arts practice their craft, could have simply been accessed in another area of the world, thus eliminating the Tibet issue. There will be different perspectives on this, as with any issue, but not long after the controversy broke, director Scott Derrickson posted on social media that he was "listening and learning" from the whitewashing and erasure complaints.
Doctor Strange will work its magic in theaters on November 4.
Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.
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