When the first trailer for Doctor Strange hit in 2016, it sparked a significant controversy that still exists to this day after Marvel decided to cast Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One. In the comics, The Ancient One is a Tibetan man who trains Stephen Strange in the mystical arts and sets him on the path to becoming Sorcerer Supreme. However, Marvel wanted to avoid the stereotype of the magical old Asian man, so they cast Swinton in the role to shake things up. Unfortunately, it did not go over well, and Marvel and Swinton faced considerable backlash for whitewashing the character.
It also didn’t help that C. Robert Cargill, one of the Doctor Strange co-writers, said the decision to cast Swinton was because of China. “The thing about the Ancient One is it is Marvel’s Kobayashi Maru,” Cargill told the Double Toasted podcast in the days following the uproar. “There is no other character in Marvel history that is such a cultural landmine, that is absolutely unwinnable.”
However, with five years between now and the Ancient One controversy, Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige is admitting that the casting decision could’ve been handled better. Via Men’s Health:
“We thought we were being so smart, and so cutting-edge,” Kevin Feige told Men’s Health in a new cover story on Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings star Simu Liu. “We’re not going to do the cliché of the wizened, old, wise Asian man. But it was a wake-up call to say, ‘Well, wait a minute, is there any other way to figure it out? Is there any other way to both not fall into the cliché and cast an Asian actor?’ And the answer to that, of course, is yes.”
Despite the misstep with Doctor Strange, Feige is confident that Marvel is making better decisions with Shang-Chi, particularly with the casting of Liu.
“It’s about having a foot in both worlds,” Feige told Men’s Health. “In the North American world and in China. And Simu fits that quite well.”
(Via Men’s Health)