Hollywood whitewashing has been a controversy that has steadily ballooned over the past decade. While in the past the biggest outcry has been against white actors depicting ancient Egyptians in films such as Exodus, and Gods of Egypt this time the backlash is aimed at a fictional Asian comic character.
Marvel‘s Doctor Strange trailer came out last week and while many were wowed by the the trippy visuals and Benedict Cumberbatch‘s portrayal of the powerful sorcerer Doctor Strange, many were quickly offended when they saw Tilda Swinton‘s character. Swinton is portraying Strange’s mentor the “Ancient One”, who in the comic books was an elderly Tibetan man, responsible for taking Strange as an apprentice and making him into an almighty sorcerer following a terrible accident that leaves Strange’s hands mutilated. The casting is perplexing to many, who question whether if it wasn’t harder to find an Asian actor or actress to play the role.
According to Indiewire:
A few months ago, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige told EW that their reason for selecting Swinton was that they wanted to shy away from any stereotyping roles. He also stated that they liked the idea of having the Ancient One be a woman.
Swinton has spent much of her career as a chameleon, from her portrayal as a male character in “Orlando” to an elderly aristocrat in “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” She’s taken big strides to radically change her appearance for roles, versus more recent controversial choices, such as the notorious “Aloha” casting misstep in which Emma Stone played a woman of Asian and Hawaiian heritage.
It seems they had good intent in avoiding stereotypes and switching genders, which has been Marvel’s M.O. for the past few years. They might just want to use a bit more caution.
Doctor Strange hits theaters November 4.