Tilda Swinton has praised Marvel Studios for encouraging diversity in the upcoming Doctor Strange. The 55-year-old actress portrays The Ancient One in the superhero movie who is responsible for teaching injured surgeon Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) the mystical arts and turning him the Sorcerer Supreme, the protector of Earth.
In the original comic book series the character The Ancient One is a 500-year-old man of Himalayan descent and some critics online accused Tilda’s casting as a loss for ethnic diversity for the movie. However, the 55-year-old British actress insists Marvel is doing more to create a diverse and eclectic world than most studios, especially with this film as Nigerian/British actor Chiwetel Ejiofor plays Baron Mordo – a Caucasian Transylvanian in the comic books – and Benedict Wong’s character Wong has an increased role than is depicted in print.
In an interview with OUT magazine, she said: “The film Marvel has made – in which they created a part for which I was not bad casting, in actual fact – is a departure from the source material in more ways than one. Ironically, their casting is positively diverse in this case: The Ancient One in this film was never written as the bearded old Tibetan man portrayed in the comics. Baron Mordo, a Caucasian Transylvanian in the graphic novels, is here played by Chiwetel Ejiofor. Benedict Wong plays a newly expanded and significant role as Wong, who in the comics is a mini-minor character. I believe in Marvel’s wholehearted commitment to creating a diverse and vibrant universe, avoiding stereotype and cliché wherever possible in a determination to keep things fresh and lively. There may be some people who do not like these changes, but I am hopeful that when they see the film itself they may understand why these particular balances were struck.”
Tilda hopes it won’t be long before we the get the first openly gay superhero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Marvel has had characters come out in comic book storylines, including Iceman who, in April 2015, in issue 40 of the comic book ‘All-New X-Men’ was revealed to be homosexual by his teammate Jean Grey, who could hear his inner thoughts due to her telepathic abilities, and Tilda believes it won’t be long for that positive message to transmit to the big screen.
She said: “We are also still looking forward to our first gay Marvel superhero, naturally. Let’s hope that’s only a matter of time.”
Doctor Strange is due for release in November 2016.