The chronicle of Marvel’s much-debated casting of Tilda Swinton in the role of Doctor Strange’s Ancient One continues. Weary and unimpressed reactions from fans, amid Hollywood’s documented exclusion of Asian actors, weren’t buying any excuses this week. In response to the outcry, the film’s screenwriter C. Robert Cargill and Marvel Studios itself have made statements about the matter, and director Scott Derrickson made it clear that he was observing the criticism, “listening and learning.”
Now, studio head Kevin Feige is speaking up to clear the air. Speaking with Deadline, Feige elaborated on the more honest intentions behind the casting:
The casting of The Ancient One was a major topic of conversation in the development and the creative process of the story. We didn’t want to play into any of the stereotypes found in the comic books, some of which go back as far as 50 years or more. We felt the idea of gender swapping the role of The Ancient One was exciting. It opened up possibilities, it was a fresh way into this old and very typical storyline. Why not make the wisest bestower of knowledge in the universe to our heroes in the particular film a woman instead of a man?
Feige mentioned that the studio wanted to reverse stereotypes by switching the gender of the role. And he clarified that he is paying close attention to the response:
That really is true. As long as we’re starting on this topic, it means so much to us that people know that. We also know that people expect actions and not words in a Q&A, and I’m hopeful that some of our upcoming announcements are going to show that we’ve been listening.
This is all, at least, more reassuring to hear than what the film’s screenwriter had to say, and the manner in which he mentioned it. “If you are telling me 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 fuck you’re talking about,” Cargill said on the Double Toasted podcast.
Marvel’s Doctor Strange hits theaters on November 4th.