Two weeks ago, Marvel released the first trailer for Doctor Strange, which caused quite the divisive reaction amongst fans. While many enjoyed the footage, others took Marvel to task for casting Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One, a character typically portrayed by an Asian male in the comics. Since then, Tilda Swinton and one of the movie's writers, C. Robert Cargill, have spoken out about the controversy. And today, we have an official statement from Marvel, which sheds new light on the story and the use of this particular character.
Tilda Swinton's casting wasn't met with too much controversy last year, with many praising Marvel for gender-swapping the role traditionally portrayed by a male. However, the trailer debuted just a few days before the first photo of Scarlett Johansson was revealed from Paramount's Ghost in the Shell, where the actress is portraying a role from a Japanese Manga, though the publishers claim the character is not supposed to be Japanese. Even so, the Doctor Strange trailer and Ghost in the Shell photo's release just days apart created a new whitewashing controversy, which Marvel has now addressed on their end in a statement they released to Mashable.
"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."
Over the weekend, writer C. Robert Cargill compared the casting conundrum to the unwinnable Star Trek test Kobyashi Maru. The writer teased that every possible outcome would be dismissed by certain fans, while adding that the casting decision was made to avoid upsetting the all-important Chinese market. We'll have to wait and see if this controversy affect the movie's box office performance.
Doctor Strange tells the story of Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), an acclaimed neurosurgeon who uncovers the hidden world of magic and alternate dimensions after a near-fatal car accident. The film will show audiences corners of the Marvel Cinematic Universe never before explored, thanks to director Scott Derrickson, based on the comic book character created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. Doctor Strange is set for release on November 4, going up against Warner Bros.' Bastards and 20th Century Fox's Trolls.