Last month we reported on the public outcry against Marvel Studio‘s upcoming film Doctor Strange. The issue centered around their decision to cast Tilda Swinton as the “Ancient One” in the film, who is depicted as an older Tibetan man in the comic book. Marvel has now issued a statement, reinforcing their casting choice. As per PEOPLE:

Marvel has a very strong record of diversity in its casting of films and regularly departs from stereotypes and source material to bring its MCU [Marvel Cinematic Universe] to life. 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 … We are very proud to have the enormously talented Tilda Swinton portray this unique and complex character alongside our richly diverse cast.

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So it seems this incarnation of the Ancient One will have an entirely different back story from the comic book version we are use to.

Doctor Strange screenwriter C. Robert Cargill gave some additional insight as to why they made this casting decision in an recent interview. The New York Times reports:


On “Double Toasted,” Mr. Cargill said that filmmakers had decided to scrub the Ancient One of his Tibetan origins. And that was, he said, largely because they feared any depiction of Tibetans and Tibet could anger the Chinese government and the Chinese people, putting the studio at risk of losing access to the second-biggest film market in the world.

He later retracted this statement in an email:

I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life, but none that I regret as much as choosing to answer a question to which I had no place in speaking. I tried to make it right by clarifying my position on Twitter Monday but unfortunately — perhaps ironically, given that this story gained so much steam on social media — those comments were not picked up by those reporting on my statements from the original podcast. Those original statements were my own personal musings about a character, and although I worked on the film script, I came to the project after the first draft and was not part of any casting discussions or decisions so I had no right or knowledge to speak about them as if I was. It was a moronic decision, and worst of all, I embarrassed my friends and colleagues by coming across as if I were speaking for them. I was not.


Doctor Strange hits theaters November 4.