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Doctor Strange has been in theaters for a few days and is already raking in serious money at the box office. The latest installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is being praised as a visual masterpiece and one of Marvel's best origin stories to date, but there has been a fair amount of controversy surrounding the film leading up to its release. Most of this controversy revolves around the casting of Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One, a character who was originally an Asian man in the comics. Both Hollywood and the public have been especially cognizant of whitewashing and proper visibility, especially following last year's #OscarsSoWhite controversy. While the Doctor Strange filmmakers have maintained that they wanted to do an original spin on The Ancient One that doesn't reduce the character to a stereotype, not everyone is convinced.
I'm not the biggest fan of the casting choice. I can see why they wanted to switch it up. Producers, studios, directors, writers --- there's a lot of voices. I think that an Asian woman would've been fantastic cast in that. They said she would be too much of a 'Dragon Lady' or too stereotypical, but I disagree.
There you go, folks. While many have been swayed regarding Tilda Swinton's casting, the issue isn't over. For those actors who have been personally affected by whitewashing, it remains a sensitive issue.
Lewis Tan makes a fairly valid point regarding adapting The Ancient One for the silver screen. He doesn't believe that the change of gender and original take on The Ancient One is a problem. But if Marvel was going to put a female in the role, he believes it should have been an Asian actress. So much of Hollywood is made up of primarily white actors, and there are not enough opportunities and roles for Asian actors. Doctor Strange had the potential to change this, but when you have the chance to book Tilda Swinton for your movie you're inclined to take it.
Tilda Swinton's role as The Ancient One has been a subject of controversy and conversation since it was first announced. Doctor Strange's director Scott Derrickson took quite a few creative liberties when bringing the Sorcerer Supreme to the big screen. Because the original comics have some controversial Asian characters, Derrickson strove to make changes and modernize the property. Instead of a butler, the character Wong became one of the powerful sorcerers who helped train Doctor Strange in the mystical arts. This change seems to be embraced by Hollywood and the Doctor Strange fandom alike, while making The Ancient One a white women has only continued to plague the movie.
Doctor Strange is in theaters now.