Kevin Feige Says Whitewashing ‘Doctor Strange’s Ancient One Was a ‘Wake-Up Call’
If we listed the most controversial aspects of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, way up near the top — and maybe number one — would have to be the casting of Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One, the wise guru who teaches Benedict Cumberbatch in the ways of magic in Doctor Strange. The Ancient One of Marvel Comics was an old Asian man — which is a stereotype in and of itself. Hoping to avoid it, Marvel decided to reimagine the character as a seemingly ageless woman — a choice that opened the company up to allegations of whitewashing.
While Marvel and Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson defended the decision at the time, Marvel President Kevin Feige now says he regrets that choice. In an interview with Men’s Health about the upcoming Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Feige said...
We thought we were being so smart, and so cutting-edge. 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.
Swinton did reprise her role as the Ancient One in Avengers: Endgame, when she appeared in a scene explaining the dangers of plucking the Infinity Stones out of past to stop Thanos. So it will be interesting to see, given Feige’s comments, whether she appears again in Phase Four of the MCU or if the character will be left behind. Will she appear in the upcoming Doctor Strange sequel? She did “die” in Doctor Strange, but “death” is an elastic concept for magical beings anyway. She had already “died” before the events of Avengers: Endgame, after all. It’s really up to the studio to decide whether they want to bring her back.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings premieres in theaters on September 3, 2021. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is scheduled to open on March 25, 2022.