Character actress and Oscar winner Tilda Swinton is reportedly on track to take on a pivotal role in next year’s Marvel feature ‘Doctor Strange’. The androgynous Swinton is fittingly taking on an unexpected role, that of the male character The Ancient One.
In the comics, this character is an aged master of sorcery who trains Doctor Stephen Strange (played by Benedict Cumberbatch) in the ways of mysticism after the cocky surgeon loses the use of his hands in an accident. The acclaimed Swinton is a welcome addition to a Marvel production and gender swapping a male character for a female adds a refreshing modern twist. But, there’s one big problem… this is yet another case of Hollywood whitewashing.
In the comics, The Ancient One dwells in his homeland Tibet and is seeking to guide the next Sorcerer Supreme, narrowing his search to Strange and Baron Karl Mordo, who becomes Strange’s archenemy. After passing away, The Ancient One continues to manifest as a cosmic deity to his prize pupil.
Controversy arose when African American actor Michael B. Jordan was cast as Caucasian Johnny Storm in ‘Fantastic Four’. Movies are actively seeking to include more diversity in the actors seen onscreen, so it seems counterproductive when a role that is normally a person of color is changed to a white person. But as talented as she is, Swinton is not Tibetan.
As for Swinton, she was most recently seen (or not seen as it wasn’t well distributed) in Joon-ho Bong’s science fiction thriller ‘Snowpiercer’ which starred Marvel’s Captain America, Chris Evans. Swinton played the demented Mason, leader of the upper class in the caste system indictment. Genre fans may also recognize her from another comic book adaptation, ‘Constantine’ in which she portrayed the angel Gabriel.
‘Doctor Strange’ is due to begin filming in November of this year with an anticipated November 4th, 2016 opening date. Scott Derrickson is directing.
Controversy aside, the bizarrely psychedelic realm of ‘Doctor Strange’ adds a new level to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which has firmly established the presence of super advanced science, alien worlds and even powerful gods of mythology. How will Tony Stark and friends respond to the existence of straight up magic?
What do you think of Swinton’s casting? Is it an outrage to cast a woman as The Ancient One? Or to cast an Anglo actress in the role of an Asian? Comment below.