I’ve already raved about which bits of the Doctor Strange trailer gave me tears of nerdy joy. But let’s face it: The trailer’s not without its problems. And while I may have finally accepted that Benedict Cumberbatch is indeed Stephen Strange, it doesn’t mean that it’s perfect.
So what’s wrong with the Doctor Strange trailer? Let me count the ways.
1The Ancient White One
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Look Marvel, I get it. You’re trying to up your diversity quotient. I can see you trying to make sure that black actors and female heroes get a lot more screen time in the MCU than they used to. But while I can’t bloody wait to see Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa a.k.a The Black Panther, I’m still waiting on that ^&@(%ing Black Widow movie that Natasha Romanov deserves.
At least, that’s the only reason I can think of to explain why they cast a blonde, white woman to play the Ancient One, a character depicted as an old Tibetan man in the comics. And oh, I do love Tilda Swinton to bits, I really do (And so so does Head Geek Nicholas Yong). But her appearance in the trailer doesn’t sit well with me at all. It’s like they’ve tried to make her look as Asian as possible without actually casting an Asian actor.
Is that what a Nebraskan accent is supposed to sound like?
Something peculiar happens when you cast a Brit actor in an American role. Even after months of studying with dialect coaches, there is a particular guttural quality that is there no matter how expert they are at other accents. Sometimes it works, like John Boyega in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but what little we heard of Doctor Strange just sounded like Cumberbatch trying to do an impression of Doctor Gregory House.
Still, this is a 2 minute trailer that shows just a fraction of the movie, so maybe it’s not as bad as we think it is.
3More cultural appropriation
When Doctor Strange was filming in the streets of New York City last month, I noticed something that really disturbed me. Despite being dressed in some vaguely ninja-y martial arts robes, not a single person acting in those scenes was Asian. Not even an extra. Maybe they were hiding away from the paparazzi? (One can only hope.)
The problem here is that the Doctor Strange mythos was created in a time when people didn’t really bother with political correctness. But I expect better from Marvel now. This is the same company that partnered with South Korean officials to shoot a key action sequence in downtown Seoul for Age of Ultron. They also created the character of Dr Helen Cho, who actually played an integral role in the plot.
So why all this clumsiness in handling their new version of the mystic arts?
I just find it ridiculous in this day and age. If you wanted all that mysticism and
oriental magic, THEN WHY WON’T YOU CAST MORE ASIANS? Our culture and spirituality are good enough for you, but having more Asian faces wasn’t possible?! Oh wait. I forgot that they also cast Finn Jones as Iron Fist. ARGH.
And yes, I know we’re still more than six months away from the movie’s release, and Doctor Strange might just be an awesome movie. As I was saying to my friend: I may like Cumberbatch as much as the next fangirl, but nothing is going to make me shut up about how problematic the source material is. I might end up loving the movie, but I think it would be doing it a disservice if we weren’t critical about its faults and engaging in a discussion about them.
There, rant over. What do you think, geeks?