Scott Derrickson, director of Marvel’s magic trip Doctor Strange, understands why people are upset about Tilda Swinton’s casting as the Ancient One – a Tibetan monk in the comics – in the upcoming film. Via his Twitter account, he addressed the ongoing controversy about the decision and in doing so set a gold standard for respectfulness and patience in a difficult position.
Raw anger/hurt from Asian-Americans over Hollywood whitewashing, stereotyping & erasure of Asians in cInema.
I am listening and learning.
— Scott Derrickson (@scottderrickson) May 4, 2016
Instead of being defensive about all the reasons why the Ancient One had to be a white woman (which is what the official Marvel statement did), Derrickson approached the concerns and hurt of others with poise and openness. Instead of dismissing concerns, he acknowledged them, displayed humility and promised to improve. It’s impressive (as far as Tweets go).
Here’s what Marvel had to say earlier:
“Marvel has a very strong record of diversity in its casting of films and regularly departs from stereotypes and source material to bring its MCU to life. The Ancient One is a title that is not exclusively held by any one character, but rather a moniker passed down through time, and in this particular film the embodiment is Celtic. We are very proud to have the enormously talented Tilda Swinton portray this unique and complex character alongside our richly diverse cast.”
The film’s screenwriter C. Robert Cargill and national treasure George Takei also recently weighed in with their perspectives on the Ancient One casting decision, with the issues of racial sensitivity, Chinese box office receipts and the political situation regarding Tibet all playing a part that yielded Swinton’s casting.
Doctor Strange, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as the titular superhero, hits theaters November 4.