Kevin Feige, Marvel Studios President, Says He Regrets Whitewashing the ‘Doctor Strange’ Cast
Marvel Studios faced a barrage of criticism for their casting choices in the 2016 film Doctor Strange, especially with regard to a character known as The Ancient One. Tilda Swinton, a white woman, took on the role of the character, who had previously been played by an Asian man.
Despite the fact that reviewers lauded Swinton’s performance and Doctor Strange was a commercial success, the decision became one of Marvel Studios’ few blemishes. Some audiences were perplexed as to why a white actor was cast in the role of an Asian man, but the answer is simple: Representation matters, and major studio films continue to struggle to cast minorities in leading roles.
Marvel President Kevin Feige revisited the subject many years later, acknowledging that the studio made a big casting error.
When casting ‘Doctor Strange,’ Marvel Studios attempted to stop stereotyping.
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Director Scott Derrickson tried to justify to The Daily Beast why he chose Swinton over an Asian actor back in 2016, but his reasoning didn’t improve the situation.
Derrickson said, “I just felt like I was going to be contributing to a poor stereotype.” He had intended for the role to be female, but when he imagined her being played by an Asian woman, he thought she “was a straight-up Dragon Lady.”
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Today, Marvel Studios understands that the casting decision was problematic and is trying to improve diversity in their films. During a recent interview with Men’s Health, Feige explained the blunder.
“We thought we were being so clever and forward-thinking,” Feige said. “We’re not going for the stereotype of the wise, old Asian guy. But it was a wake-up call to say, ‘Wait, there’s another way to sort it out?’ Is… This is a condensed version of the plot. I hope you found it entertaining.