Doctor Strange: How Tilda Swinton Feels About Marvel’s Whitewashing Comments

Tilda in Doctor Strange

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The Marvel Cinematic Universe is ever-growing and has been making major steps forward in regards to inclusion and representation. But there were some speed bumps along the way, including the controversy about Doctor Strange’s casting of Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One. Marvel’s Kevin Feige recently admitted fault in the controversy, and now Swinton herself has responded to those comments.

Shortly after Doctor Strange hit theaters, there was conversation about Tilda Swinton’s casting as an example of whitewashing. The industry has continued changing and making positive steps forward in this regard, and Feige admitted it was a misstep to cast a white actor when trying to avoid stereotypes. Tilda Swinton has now returned to the dialogue, saying:

[I’m] very, very grateful that he said that. I remember at the time having a question mark in my own mind, and being attendant to the public response to the idea that a Scottish woman will be playing this character, and being aware that there was no resistance at all — there was widespread welcome — which shifted at a certain point, for very good reasons with which I had an enormous amount of sympathy.

Well, there you have it. It seems that Tilda Swinton was pleased with Kevin Feige’s comments about her Doctor Strange role. Furthermore, she explained what it was like from the inside as discourse and opinions about her casting shifted in the public space.

Tilda Swinton’s comments to Variety shows how the conversation around the MCU’s take on The Ancient One has continued changing. In the comics, the character is typically an older Asian man. This was flipped on its head when the incomparable Swinton signed on, although many saw this as an opportunity that was taken away from an Asian actor. While she would go on to reprise her role in Avengers: Endgame, Kevin Feige and others have continued engaging in the dialogue.

Marvel fans can re-watch Tilda Swinton’s time in the MCU on Disney+. You can use this link to sign up for the streaming service.

In that same interview, Tilda Swinton also went on to speak about the time she reached out to comedian Magaret Cho in the midst of the Doctor Strange backlash. Their email exchange went viral at the time, and Cho mentioned she was dissatisfied with the correspondence. Swinton spoke about this, saying:

I made a questionable decision to reach out to somebody in a certain way, which was naïve and clearly confusing, because their misunderstanding came about because of it. I was embarrassed that I had maybe gone up a blind alley in starting the correspondence in the first place — maybe I had confused matters — but beyond that, I have zero regrets.

Since Doctor Strange first hit theaters back in 2016, there have been a number of years for the cast and crew of the Marvel blockbuster to reflect on certain choices--including casting. Phase Four of the MCU will continue to tell more diverse stories, with Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings serving as a groundbreaking moment in regards to Asian representation in the MCU.

The next installment in the MCU is Black Widow on July 9th. In the meantime, check out the 2021 movie release dates to plan your next movie experience.

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Double majored in theater and literature during undergrad. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid.