Marvel’s Doctor Strange is filled with mind-bending “Escher stuff” as seen in the first trailer and the Comic-Con trailer. But there’s a reason to be concerned. If they try to explain away the magical aspects with pseudoscientific woo, we have to sit through boring, goofy exposition and try not to groan. (Marvel handled this about as well as they could with Thor explaining magic and science to Jane Foster in Thor.) But if the film references magic or ghosts or other such things too much, China will ban the movie, just as Suicide Squad and Ghostbusters didn’t screen there.
Marvel stands to make over $100 million in China off Doctor Strange, so they’ve been trying to stay in China’s good graces. Script co-writer C. Robert Cargill claims Tibetan character The Ancient One was changed to very white woman (or possible swan masquerading as human) Tilda Swinton because China would have banned the movie if it referenced Tibet. Marvel denied this, however, but they still haven’t denied that Swinton is actually a swan.
So you would assume there will be scenes in Doctor Strange where they try to explain away the magic stuff to appease Chinese censors, right? Well, director Scott Derrickson told Games Radar they’re not going to do that: