'The Ancient One' is not of a specific race, filmmakers argue
Marvel have issued a statement in which they defend their casting of Tilda Swinton as ‘The Ancient One’ in their upcoming film Doctor Strange.
Critics had accused the company of being an example of Hollywood racism over their casting of the film, after Swinton was handed the role of a character that’s Tibetan in the film’s source material.
Responding to the accusations in a statement to Mashable, Marvel said:
“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 [Marvel cinematic universe] 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.”
(below: Doctor Strange imagery)
Swinton had earlier responded to the accusations, saying “Well, it’s not actually an Asian character – that’s what I need to tell you about it. I wasn’t asked to play an Asian character, you can be very well assured of that.”
Co-writer C. Robert Cargill has also commented, implying that the decision to cast Swinton might be linked to Chinese audiences. He said:
“Every single decision that involves the Ancient One is a bad one. The Ancient One was a racist stereotype who comes from a region of the world that is in a very weird political place. He originates from Tibet, so if you acknowledge that Tibet is a place and that he’s Tibetan, you risk alienating one billion people who think that that’s bullshit and risk the Chinese government going, ‘Hey, you know one of the biggest film-watching countries in the world? We’re not going to show your movie because you decided to get political.’”