It’s an issue that different writers at Geek Crusade have addressed – the alleged whitewashing and cultural appropriation of the Doctor Strange movie. The shitstorm that the casting of Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One caused even moved director Scott Derrickson to tweet this back in May:
Raw anger/hurt from Asian-Americans over Hollywood whitewashing, stereotyping & erasure of Asians in cInema.
I am listening and learning.
— Scott Derrickson (@scottderrickson) May 4, 2016
Derrickson, Swinton, Benedict Cumberbatch and Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige were just in Hong Kong to promote the film, where Derrickson once again addressed an issue that has become a minefield in Hollywood. He and Feige insisted that the role had been specifically written for Swinton in a bid to correct Asian stereotypes, as well as to have a strong female presence in the movie:
“Looking at Marvel movies, I think that we’re missing a major character that is Tilda’s age and has this kind of strength and power. The Ancient One in the comics is a very old American stereotype of what Eastern characters and people are like, and I felt very strongly that we need to avoid those stereotypes at all costs.”
Be that as it may, it’s worth remembering that the Strange character – just like Iron Fist – is in itself based on a very old and tired trope: white man finds enlightenment in Asia. And while Marvel’s efforts to at least partially amend that trope is laudable (including expanding and enhancing the role of Strange’s manservant Wong), we’ll have to watch the movie to see how it does on that front.
Separately, Derrickson also praised Cumberbatch’s stunt work for the film.
“What a lot of people don’t understand is that when an actor performs a lot of his own stunts, as Benedict did in this movie, it’s very physically demanding. So when I think about the production, a lot of what comes to mind is Benedict being in physical pain, and having to perform in situations where he is getting hit, getting kicked, being in harnesses, doing very difficult things. It’s unpleasant but he was a total trooper and kept getting better and better as we went along.”
Check out some images from the Doctor Strange event in Hong Kong:
Last night in Hong Kong with Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, and Kevin Feige. pic.twitter.com/fpnRJ23B5B
— Scott Derrickson (@scottderrickson) October 14, 2016
— Marvel Studios (@MarvelStudios) October 14, 2016
— Cumberbatchweb (@cumberbatchweb) October 13, 2016
The Doctor Strange Singapore release date has been set for Oct 27.