Doctor Strange just got a whole lot stranger. Just when fans were becoming acclimated to the fact that iconic Marvel character The Ancient One was getting gender swapped, with Tilda Swinton taking on the role, it has come to light that she might be pulling a Victor Victoria type ruse. At this point, she really doesn't know what Marvel has planned. And she could end up playing the character as a man.
While Marvel has explored group dynamics, otherworldly superpowers and science fiction, it will move into the realm of magic and mysticism with Doctor Strange. And it's something audiences haven't seen in this landscape before. After a long and grueling casting process that saw quite a few actors come and go, Benedict Cumberbatch finally accepted the title role as Dr. Stephen Strange, a neurosurgeon who becomes a Sorcerer after injuring his hands in a car accident. The movie is being directed by Scott Derrickson, who made a name for himself with the well-received horror movies Sinister and Deliver Us from Evil.
While Benedict Cumberbatch holds the traits of Doctor Strange at the root core, making fans happy about the decision, it's Tilda Swinton's casting that has turned some heads and rankled longtime Marvel fanatics. The character of the Ancient One has never been depicted as a female in the comic books. He is a powerful sorcerer and Doctor Strange's mentor. He hails from Tibet, and is centuries old. While quite the on-screen chameleon (you have to look no further than last week's Trainwreck), you can't argue that Tilda Swinton possesses none of those qualities. Though, it's not hard to argue the fact that Doctor Strange isn't as well known or beloved as some of Marvel's other characters. So the outrage that Tilda Swinton has taken over a role meant for a man has not been far reaching.
And maybe any hurt feelings where all for nothing. The Guardian recently spoke with the actress. And they walked away with a very interesting tidbit from the actress. The plain truth of the matter is, no one at Marvel knows right now whether or not Tilda Swinton will play the Ancient One as a Man or Woman. The publication stated this as fact.
"She will soon start shooting a Marvel blockbuster, Doctor Strange, but there is a Swinton-esque twist - she doesn't yet know if she will play the part as a man or a woman."
There is no exact quote. So we don't know the actress' exact phrasing. Perhaps these comments were taken out of context. Or when she received the first script, the character was still written as a man and the decision to cast Tilda Swinton had not been made yet. Who knows? Tilda Swinton can play androgynous quite well, which might have drawn Marvel to her for this specific role. And it should be noted that she has played male characters in the past. The idea of having Tilda Swinton play a man in Doctor Strange could prove to be far more interesting than just your traditional gender swap. But how will that set with fans? Will there be outrage? Probably little none at all.
Tilda Swinton's character in Snowpiercer was originally written for a man. The actress plays Mason, the leader on a high speed train carrying the last of humanity through a new ice age. In the original script, Mason is described as a 'mild-mannered man in a suit'. That movie was based on the little known French graphic novel Le Transperceneige. It didn't have many fans in the states that would have noticed the character change. Doctor Strange is a completely different story though, and has a far reaching fan base that will notice. But this isn't changing Peter Parker into a high school cheerleader, or turning Tony Stark into Lucille Bluth. We really won't know what to make of Tilda Swinton's character until we get to see her in action. What do you think? Do you care whether or not Tilda Swinton plays a man, a woman or a sexless mythical being? Does it really matter?