Academy Award-nominated actor Chiwetel Ejiofor (who genre fans may remember as The Operative on ‘Serenity’) has been interested in tackling a role in a super hero movie for a while now and it appears his time has come. The esteemed and hard-working actor is reported to be joining the cast of Marvel’s ‘Doctor Strange’ in the major role of the title hero’s rival/enemy Baron Karl Mordo.
In the comics, Baron Mordo is Strange’s fellow student under the tutelage of The Ancient One, but the power-thirsty Mordo attempted to steal their mentor’s vast magical powers by murdering him. Since then, the Baron and the Doctor have pitted their mystic prowess against one another time and again.
‘Doctor Strange’ is part of Marvel’s Wave Three of movies, along with ‘Black Panther,’ ‘Captain Marvel’ and ‘The Inhumans.’ The film, scripted by Jon Spaihts, will be directed by Scott Derrickson. Benedict Cumberbatch plays Doctor Stephen Strange, while Tilda Swinton will play a gender (and race)-swapped version of The Ancient One.
Derrickson cautions not to consider the movie’s version of Mordo to be the major villain, stating that this take is an amalgamation, culling traits from various characters from the comics’ long history.
Similarly, some fuss has been raised at the transformation of The Ancient One from an aged Tibetan male into a Caucasian female. Mordo in the comics has traditionally been depicted as Caucasian, but in recent years, attempts have been made to darken his skin-tone making him more ethnic.
Below is an image of Mordo and Strange from the ‘Doctor Strange’ animated movie, released on home video in 2007:
Though not black, this version of Mordo is clearly not Caucasian either.
Similarly, in the ‘Thor’ movies, traditionally Caucasian characters Heimdall and Hogun were cast with a black and Asian actor (Idris Elba and Tadanobu Asano), respectively.
Many criticized the casting of Swinton, not because a male character was being re-envisioned as a woman, but because a rare Asian character was being “white washed.” Does Ejiofor’s casting as Mordo offset that?
Is Ejiofor a good choice to play the greedy Baron Mordo? How is the ‘Doctor Strange’ movie shaping up, in your opinion?