Marvel, more than almost any other studio releasing super-hero movies, has a very high bar it has set for itself, and a lot of fan expectations that go along with every film released in the MCU. In the latest twist of what could possibly go wrong while making a superhero film, it seems there is some significant backlash against the casting of Tilda Swinton as ‘The Ancient One’ in the film, a character that plays a significant part in the history of ‘Doctor Strange.’ However, despite what fans may think about Hollywood “whitewashing” all these characters just for the hell of it, one of the writers of the film has come out in defense of the decision, and to shed light on why they went with Swinton. According to C. Robert Cargill (one of the co-writers for the film):
“The thing about the Ancient One is it is Marvel’s Kobayashi Maru. There is no other character in Marvel history that is such a cultural landmine, that is absolutely unwinnable. I’ve been reading a bunch of people talking about it and the really frustrating thing about it this week is that most of the people who have thoughts on it haven’t thought it all the way through and they go, ‘Why didn’t they just do this?’ And it’s like, I could tell you why. I could tell you why every single decision that involves the Ancient One is a bad one, and just like the Kobayashi Maru, it all comes down on which way you’re willing to lose.
The Ancient One was a racist stereotype who comes from a region of the world that is in a very weird political place. He originates from Tibet, so if you acknowledge that Tibet is a place and that he’s Tibetan, you risk alienating one billion people who think that that’s bulls**t and risk the Chinese government going, ‘Hey, you know one of the biggest film-watching countries in the world? We’re not going to show your movie because you decided to get political.’ If we decide to go the other way and cater to China in particular and have him be in Tibet… if 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 f**k you’re talking about.”
It is definitely a good point about the dicey political situation with Tibet and China, not to mention the need for the film to stay on good terms with the huge Chinese market, but at the same time, it does kind of feel like a series of excuses. What are your thoughts on the matter? Share your opinions in the comments below!