Marvel has issued a statement following “whitewashing” accusations surrounding the casting of Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One – a character who’s Tibetan in the original comic books – in Doctor Strange.
“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 to life,” Marvel wrote in a statement to Mashable. “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.”
Okay, so the character has been changed in the movie from Tibetan to Celtic, so it’s not Tilda Swinton playing an Asian. We’re not sure that’s actually going to placate anybody. It’s a bit like casting Ben Wishaw as Sulu in Star Trek and saying, “Well in our film, Sulu’s British.” Sure, the Ancient One is a bit different, but if Marvel wanted to make the character Celtic why set that portion of the film in Tibet? It does seem a little arbitrary and insensitive.
Maybe it’ll make more sense in the context of the final movie.