Marvel Defends Ancient One Casting; Cumberbatch Talks ‘Doctor Strange’


The concept of “white washing” is not uncommon with Hollywood. The practice has been used in filming for countless decades, but now it seems Marvel is the new target of using the accused practice. Following the release of the first trailer for Marvel’s Doctor Strange, fans were once again outraged by the idea that a white actress would be taking on a role that in the comics is an elderly asian male. After the tremendous fan backlash and controversy regarding the casting of actress Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One, Marvel has now finally commented on the matter.

“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.”

This recent statement follows one that was provided by the scriptwriter C Robert Cargill, where he plainly states that this decision was due to the target demographic and their desires to avoid going against the Chinese film market.

“If we decide to go the other way and cater to China in particular, if you think it’s a good idea to cast a Chinese actress as a Tibetan character, you are out of your damn fool mind and have no idea what the f*ck you’re talking about.”

Its nice to see that Marvel officially took the positive stance by praising its cast instead of getting on the political defensive, and if fans wanted to know more of why this was done, they have the remarks from Cargill to satisfy their curious desires.

With the silly controversy aside, Doctor Strange star Benedict Cumberbatch recently spoke with Empire Online regarding the role.

“It’s a very different feel, different hero and different set of circumstances to what we’ve seen before. It’s another moment during Marvel’s evolution.”

“We felt free to go as far as we could imagine, so we’re doing a lot of things that I think have not been done before. Once we’d crossed a certain line we just kept going.”

Doctor Strange is set to hit theaters on November 4th.

Source: MashableEmpire Online

Taylor Landine

Taylor Landine

Taylor Landine is a Veteran to online entertainment journalism who has been covering television and movies since 2005. Follow him on twitter via @taylorlandine

  • Jorge Morando

    +1 If you read cumberbatch quote with his voice.

  • HG2012

    or they could of hired an actor or actress of Tibetan decent

    • Toologist

      That has already been addressed by C. Robert Cargill.

      • Vegas82

        Right, they can’t afford to lose Chinese money so they don’t want to piss off their government. So, essentially, they couldn’t cast race appropriate because of Chinese censorship. Which would be like not casting jews because the Nazis would ban the film.

        • Thanostic

          Except that the Chinese didn’t try to conquer the world, commit genocide against an entire race of people, or spew hate speech. Also, they still (officially) exist, and there are over a billion of them.

  • Carl
  • Carl

    no issue there

    • Robert Mexico
      • Carl

        Your point? I’m talking about fictional characters here. Specifically a mostly unknown one that has a minor role. A movie where a black actor is getting the role of a white character that will seemingly be more prominent than the comic version.

        Also that bit about The Last Samurai was dumb considering that if you saw the movie it made perfect sense. No white washing in it. Ken Watanabe was amazing in it and it was a great movie.

    • PrincessOfTheCrystal

      how convenient that it’s the villain.

  • DemonSurfer

    Sigh. Okay yes. I get the political ramifications of legitimizing the identity of Tibet in a movie that will be heavily advertised and promoted in China. The Chinese government would absolutely not have allowed it’s release if the main character’s mentor was an old Tibetan spiritual guru. I also get the vehement response to casting a Chinese person ( male/female) instead of Tibetan. That would have been bullshit. However….Celtic? Really? I’d have preferred her origin to be unnamed. I mean really, the Dr, Strange story was already yet another case of ( forgive the term, I did not come up with it) the “White Saviour” trope in film and literature. “A displaced white European( insert American for modern times) often of noble descent( insert rich or modern aristocracy) , who ends up living with native tribes people and not only learns their ways but also becomes their greatest warrior/leader/representative”. So now we have a situation where the original Asiatic master is replaced with a European character….who happens to live in Asia. The hilarious part of all of this is that it was completely unnecessary, Why do I say that? This….. India. The panel below is from the first page of Strange tales issue 115, the first time the origin of Dr, Strange is told. Stephen Strange first met the Ancient One in India, not Tibet. There were later retcons that placed the meeting in the Himalayas, for….reasons. But they could have gone for an Indian actor or actress without insulting either the Chinese or Tibetans. They could have just followed the original canon. But no, they went the lazy route. Whitewashing in order to cast a more bankable actor. ( like Tilda rakes them in anyway) Now, I don’t really mind the casting in terms of talent and the interesting visual. But the Celtic thing just irritates me. I’ll still see the movie, much too large of a Doc Strange fan not too. But I’m a little disappointed in Marvel, I thought they were more aware than this.