Dammit Hollywood, why must we keep going through these shenanigans with you? Marvel’s Doctor Strange premiered its first teaser trailer the other day and it was pretty cool. The character of Stephen Strange is very interesting and different from most Marvel characters because he deals with magic. I’ve always enjoyed Doctor Strange and the role he plays in the Marvel universe and I loved the trailer as well, with one exception; why is Tilda Swinton playing the Ancient One? If you haven’t seen the trailer yet, check it out.
This is not a question of Tilda Swinton’s acting abilities because she is a phenomenal actress but why couldn’t a capable Tibetan or Eastern Asian actor be found to play the role? I’m not even arguing over the fact that The Ancient One’s gender has been changed because I fully support more roles for powerful women in these types of movies but the race is an issue. When the latest Fantastic Four incarnation came out, I had no problem with Michael B. Jordan playing Johnny Storm because Johnny is American and his race could have been changed to any culture because America is a multi-cultural country. The same cannot be said for Tibet, especially for a character who was born in the 1430’s in Kamar-Taj, a fictional mystic city located in Tibet and Tibet is a real country populated by Eastern Asian people, Chinese people, etc, especially hundreds of years ago. To give you some idea of what Tibetan people may look like, view the pictures below.
I didn’t realize we were still in a “yellowface” era, a’la Mickey Rooney in Breakfast At Tiffany’s. As you can see here:
I’m disappointed in Marvel for taking this route and even more in Hollywood for continuing this nonsense of not hiring a race of actor for a specific type of role like this. I also haven’t forgotten that Chiwetel Ojiofor is playing Baron Karl Mordo who is Transylvanian in the comics. His family background is what drew Mordo into magic and I wonder how that will be played out with Ojiofor without having to change his history entirely. I’m sure it seemed like a great casting choice because he is a great actor but the issue here again is not just about the race but cultural history of the character. Putting my fanboy flag aside for a moment; let’s say, perhaps the movie plays this off well and if they do, more power to them but I get the sense that they did some reverse white washing with Ojiofor to make it acceptable having Swinton play The Ancient One.
As a fan, I have been waiting a long time to see Doctor Strange on the big screen because he is the master of mysticism and plays a pivotal role in the Infinity War, especially if Adam Warlock won’t be in the movie. Now, I’m not so sure. I’m not saying it won’t be a good movie; there’s too much talent there to know there’s a strong possibility Doctor Strange will be excellent but the decisions in casting have soured me to the movie some.
Doctor Strange casts spells in theaters November 4, 2016