Ever since Marvel Studios launched its Cinematic Universe back in 2008 with Iron Man, fans have come to expect the unexpected. Whether it be the studio's unconventional casting or directorial choices, one never quite knows what to expect from an MCU adventure. That tradition will continue next year with Doctor Strange, with the studio revealing earlier this year that Oscar-winning actress Tilda Swinton is taking on the role of the Ancient One, a character typically portrayed by a male in the comics. Entertainment Weekly caught up with Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige, who shed some light on why they cast a female for the Ancient One.
"We're never afraid to change. In the comic books, Jarvis is an elderly butler. In the movies, he's an A.I. system which becomes Paul Bettany's Vision. We are always looking for ways to change. I think if you look at some of the early incarnations of the Ancient One in the comics, they are what we would consider today to be quite, sort of, stereotypical. They don't hold up to what would work today. Also, within the storyline of the comics, and our movie, 'the Ancient One' is a title that many people have had. We hit very early on on, What if the Ancient One was a woman? What if the title had been passed and the current Ancient One is a woman? Oh, that's an interesting idea. [Clicks fingers.] Tilda Swinton! Whoah! And it just hit."
Earlier this week, we got our first look at Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange, but with production still under way, it isn't known when we may get our glimpse at the Ancient One. Tilda Swinton herself has teased in the past that her version of the Ancient One might not necessarily be a woman, which Kevin Feige also addressed. The producer revealed that characters refer to the Ancient One as "her" and "she," but the actress' performance is still rather androgynous.
"Look, she's a chameleon in everything she does. She has this amazing [ability to] harness of this androgynous sense. So, we use the term 'her' and 'she' in the film but, other than that, it's very androgynous. Because it doesn't matter."
The actress herself wouldn't give the site a straight answer, stating she wouldn't know how to answer that question, adding "I think it's all in the eye of the beholder." One of the other comic book characters that will be introduced in Doctor Strange is Chiwetel Ejiofor's Baron Mordo. In the comics, Mordo was another sorcerer like Stephen Strange, who was mentored and trained by the Ancient One, although he eventually turns into an evil villain. EW also spoke with Chiwetel Ejiofor, who shed some light on Mordo's relationship with the Ancient One.
"In terms of his life with the Ancient One, it's this long and intense relationship they have that's just very deep and very connected. I think they both recognize in Strange this certain quality that they feel is going to be very useful in a situation they're in - just by the nature of who he is, and the way that he operates, and the way his mind works, and the certain skill set and personality that he has. So, when they all meet, they realize that he's somebody that can be plugged into this very surreal, interesting, sort of fascinating circumstance that they're all in, and the dangers that they face. And so it becomes a process of assimilating him into their ways of life."
When asked whether Mordo was good or bad in Doctor Strange, the actor would only say that he's a "very complex character that can't be nailed down either way." Since we haven't seen Mordo in action yet, we'll probably have to wait quite some time before learning whether Mordo is friend or foe to Doctor Strange. What do you think about these new Doctor Strange details? Stay tuned for more on this superhero adventure as production continues.