Marvel film “Doctor Strange” courted some controversy when it cast actor Tilda Swinton, a white woman, in the role of The Ancient One, who is typically portrayed in the comics as an Asian man. Marvel Studios defended the casting leading up to the release, but now president Kevin Feige has addressed the controversy and admitted the company could have handled it differently.
In 2016, Marvel Studios released a statement about Swinton’s casting, saying “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. 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.”
On Wednesday, Feige spoke to Men’s Health for a cover story on the upcoming Asian-led Marvel film “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” saying that “Doctor Strange” could have cast an Asian actor.
“We thought we were being so smart, and so cutting-edge,” he said. “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.”
At the time, “Doctor Strange” director Scott Derrickson and co-star Benedict Wong defended Swinton’s casting, while other Asian actors and visibility groups criticized it.
In a major push for diversity, “Shang-Chi” will be the first Marvel film to feature a predominantly Asian cast, with the lead role being played by Simu Liu. The film hits theaters September 3.