Marvel Studios came under fire this year for its casting on Doctor Strange, receiving criticism in some quarters for the “whitewashing” of The Ancient One, with Tilda Swinton set to portray a character generally depicted as an elderly Asian male. Swinton has previously shared her thoughts on the controversy, and now director Scott Derrickson has weighed in during an interview with the Los Angeles Daily News, where he explained his casting choice:
“Tilda was a way of adding diversity in terms of not just an ethereal, enigmatic, otherworldly actress playing an ethereal, enigmatic, otherworldly character, but we’re bringing a middle-aged woman who’s not 28 years old in leather pants into the Marvel Universe in a major role.”
Derrickson went on to reveal that by switching the race of the Ancient One, he was convinced to add Wong (Benedict Wong) into the film, having initially been reluctant to include him due to racial stereotyping:
“I was going to leave Wong out of the movie at first; he was an Asian sidekick manservant, what was I supposed to do with that? Unlike the Ancient One, he could be completely subverted as a character and reworked into something that didn’t fall into any of the stereotypes of the comics.”
Meanwhile, Derrickson also explained why he felt Benedict Cumberbatch was the perfect choice for the Sorcerer Supreme, adding that: “You feel that he can play the intelligence, the arrogance, the unlikability and yet intrigue of Stephen Strange and that the massive arc that the character goes through in those early comics is something that he would be able to portray.”
Marvel’s Doctor Strange follows the story of the talented neurosurgeon Doctor Stephen Strange who, after a tragic car accident, must put ego aside and learn the secrets of a hidden world of mysticism and alternate dimensions. Based in New York City’s Greenwich Village, Doctor Strange must act as an intermediary between the real world and what lies beyond, utilizing a vast array of metaphysical abilities and artifacts to protect the Marvel cinematic universe.
Doctor Strange is set for release on October 25th in the UK and November 4th in the US, with Scott Derrickson (Sinister) directing a cast that includes Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock) as Stephen Strange, Tilda Swinton (Snowpiercer) as The Ancient One, Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave) as Baron Mordo, Benedict Wong (The Martian) as Wong, Rachel McAdams (True Detective) as Christine Palmer, Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal) as Kaecilius and Benjamin Bratt (The Infiltrator) in an as-yet-unrevealed role.