Kevin Feige Says The Ancient One Casting in DOCTOR STRANGE Was a Creative Decision Not Political
I know a lot of people are upset about the Tilda Swinton being cast as The Ancient One in Marvel’s Doctor Strange. Personally, I think the explanation that The Ancient One is “a title that is not exclusively held by any one character, but rather a moniker passed down through time, and in this particular film the embodiment is Celtic,” is kinda cool.
Marvel has been switching things up with some of their characters since they started, and I thought this decision was bold and unique. Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige recently talked to Deadline about the controversy, and he wants to make it very clear that the studio does not get involved in politics when making casting decisions and that this was purely a creative decision:
"We make all of our decisions on all of our films, and certainly on Doctor Strange, for creative reasons and not political reasons. That’s just always been the case. I’ve always believed that it is the films themselves that will cross all borders and really get people to identify with these heroes, and that always comes down to creative and not political reasons. The casting of The Ancient One was a major topic of conversation in the development and the creative process of the story. We didn’t want to play into any of the stereotypes found in the comic books, some of which go back as far as 50 years or more. We felt the idea of gender swapping the role of The Ancient One was exciting. It opened up possibilities, it was a fresh way into this old and very typical storyline. Why not make the wisest bestower of knowledge in the universe to our heroes in the particular film a woman instead of a man? We made changes to some of the other key characters in the comic for similar reasons. Specifically, casting Chiwetel Ejiofor as Mordo and there’s a character named Wong, who is a very big part of comics, and we cast this amazing Asian actor [Benedict Wong] and modernized that role and his talents people will begin to see as materials on the film begin to come out."
Feige goes on to say that he loves that the conversation is happening, though, and that he and the rest of the Marvel team are listening to what fans to say, which is something they’ve always been good at.
"The truth is, the conversation that’s taking place around this is super-important. It’s something we are incredibly mindful of. We cast Tilda out of a desire to subvert stereotypes, not feed into them. I don’t know if you saw [Doctor Strange director] Scott Derrickson’s tweet the other day. He said we’re listening and we’re learning, every day. That really is true. As long as we’re starting on this topic, it means so much to us that people know that. We also know that people expect actions and not words in a Q&A, and I’m hopeful that some of our upcoming announcements are going to show that we’ve been listening."
I completely respect whatever your stance on the issue of this casting controversy is. I’m just excited about this Doctor Strange movie! He’s one of my favorite Marvel characters, and from what I’ve seen so far it looks incredible! The movie is set to open in theaters on November 4th.