The Marvel Cinematic Universe is no stranger to casting controversies, and if any of the cast for the upcoming ‘Doctor Strange‘ has proven divisive, it has been Tilda Swinton‘s portrayal of the Ancient One. Whether one agrees with Swinton’s casting or not, the debate surrounding it can only be described as predictable, given that she is a white British woman playing a character traditionally portrayed as an Asian man.
During a recent on-set interview with ScreenRant, Swinton offered up her thoughts on the changes in from the familiar depiction of the Ancient One, as well as providing some insight into the film’s interpretation of the character. In her comments, Swinton particularly focused on the element of fluidity that would appear to be central to the film’s version of the Ancient One:
“This is the launch of the Doctor Strange film interpretation of – in my view – a classic, which has been interpreted many times by other graphic artists and this is just our graphic interpretation of The Ancient One.
I would say the whole approach is about a kind of fluidity. There are many graphic artists who have interpreted The Ancient One as a Tibetan Buddhist Lama, we’re kind of shifting that abit. We’re trying not to be fixed, we’re trying not to be fixed to any one thing, any one gender, any one spiritual discipline, and any one race even; we’re just trying to wing it beyond that. So it’s a new gesture really, just another interpretation.”
More broadly, Swinton also spoke about the liberties Marvel has at times take when adapting their characters:
“The comics are the root, that’s the source… it’s just another interpretation. One of the wonderful things that I’ve always loved as an art student, what I always loved about comics, was that they are interpreted differently by different graphic artists all the time, so now film is doing that thanks to Marvel Studios. I’m a huge Marvel fan and the fact that they take the liberties that they do in filmmaking I think, if anything, that it dignifies the comics and it says, “Yeah. This is a strong enough, robust enough source. We can bend it, it’s elastic. It’s bouncy.””
While we as fans may debate the merits of changes to the source material ad infinitum, it’s hard to argue with Swinton’s claim that the ability to make seemingly major changes in adaptations without compromising the core of a particular concept is a testament to the strength of the concept in question.
The latest installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, ‘Doctor Strange’ will land in theaters on November 4, 2016. The film stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, Mads Mikkelsen, Benedict Wong, Rachel McAdams, and Chiwetel Ejiofor.