Before Marvel dropped the first teaser trailer for Doctor Strange, the film was praised not only for the casting of Benedict Cumberbatch as the titular neurosurgeon, but also for the re-characterization of the Ancient One, the powerful sorcerer who takes the superhero under his wing to teach him the mystic arts.
In fact, that male character would be played by a woman — Tilda Swinton.
However, the Ancient One is originally a Tibetan-born male and appears to be another instance of Hollywood’s cultural appropriation of Asian characters.
Yet Swinton — who was well aware of the backlash, and acknowledged it — hopes to reassure Marvel fans. “Well, it’s not actually an Asian character — that’s what I need to tell you about it,” she told The Hollywood Reporter at a Thursday night screening of A Bigger Splash at New York City’s Museum of Modern Art. “I wasn’t asked to play an Asian character, you can be very well assured of that.”
She added with a smile, “You just have to wait and see, because it’s not an Asian character.”
Might the writers truly have a justified reason for re-characterizing the Ancient One away from the character’s original Tibetan roots? Maybe there’s more that meets the eye. We’ll have to wait and see until Nov. 4.