Marvel was the cause of brief controversy when UK actress Tilda Swinton was cast as the Ancient One, an originally male Asian character, for the upcoming MCU film “Doctor Strange.”
In a recent interview with Screen Rant, Swinton talked about the different direction the MCU was going with the character. In the interview, she explained that they made the Ancient One a mantle that was able to be passed down from person to person, regardless of age, race and gender:
“This is the launch of the Doctor Strange film interpretation, of — in my view — a classic, which has been interpreted many times by other graphic artists and this is just our graphic interpretation of The Ancient One.
I would say the whole approach is about a kind of fluidity. There are many graphic artists who have interpreted The Ancient One as a Tibetan Buddhist Lama, we’re kind of shifting that a bit. We’re trying not to be fixed, we’re trying not to be fixed to any one thing, any one gender, any one spiritual discipline, and any one race even; we’re just trying to wing it beyond that. So it’s a new gesture really, just another interpretation.”
In a separate interview with ComicBook.com, Swinton described her character’s relationship with the titular Doctor Strange, played by Benedict Cumberbatch. “The Ancient One’s really invested in Dr. Strange,” she said. “It’s a very kind of primal relationship.”
Swinton hints that, while their relationship onscreen will primarily reflect what we see in the comics, the Ancient One will have different reasons for wanting Strange to excel in his training of the mystic arts:
“The Ancient One as you know is the master, is the Sorcerer Supreme…Strange comes to learn how to heal himself, and The Ancient One has got the knowledge. It’s really important to The Ancient One that Dr. Strange does cut it, because The Ancient One needs a successor, or certainly needs a, you could say a son.”
“Doctor Strange” is out in theaters Nov. 4.