The Doctor Strange director is facing something that most Marvel movies directors have not had to answer to before. Fans have lashed out at the upcoming Doctor Strange movie for what they deem to be the whitewashing of a traditionally Asian character with white actress Tilda Swinton. After the writer of the movie, C. Robert Cargill, responded that he supported the casting of Swinton for the role of The Ancient One, director Scott Derrickson took the higher road.
Variety reported that Derrickson said he understands the hurt and anger among the Asian community based on whitewashing characters. He also said that he is listening to the criticism and learning from it.
Raw anger/hurt from Asian-Americans over Hollywood whitewashing, stereotyping & erasure of Asians in cInema.— Scott Derrickson (@scottderrickson) May 4, 2016
I am listening and learning.
In the Doctor Strange comics, The Ancient One is a strong Asian mystic, the master of mystic arts who takes in an injured and weary Stephen Strange and trains him to become the new master. Interestingly, the Ancient One was an Asian male character in the comics.
When the Doctor Strange director cast Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One, he not only changed the gender but the race as well. It was an interesting move. There has been a lot of criticism about comic book movies not representing women well. The casting of a female in the role of the most powerful mystic in the universe was an interesting move.
Saucer Full of Secrets pic.twitter.com/ofggIxi3pd— Scott Derrickson (@scottderrickson) April 21, 2016
As the Doctor Strange director, Derrickson dared criticism thanks to changing the race of The Ancient One. Surely there were strong Asian women available for the role, but it seems that Derrickson wanted someone with a little more name-value to take the role. Luckily, he is taking a better stance on this than Cargill.
Last month, Indie Wire reported that Cargill said that it was a no-win situation. Cargill said that they knew that they would get criticized for choosing an Asian actor that was not of the same race as the Ancient One if they went that way, so they decided to try to be daring in the decision and cast a female, something he thought would buy them some good grace for empowering a female character in the Doctor Strange movie.
“There is no real way to win this so let’s use this opportunity to cast an amazing actress in a male role. And sure enough, there’s not a lot of talk about ‘Aw, they took away a job from a guy and gave it to a women.’ Everyone kind of pats us on the back for that but then scolds us for her not being Tibetan.”
Sadly, Cargill could have left well enough alone after that statement, because it made sense. However, he then said that “social justice warriors” would be mad no matter what they did. Attacking and stereotyping social justice warriors just brought on more angry fans. That is where Derrickson stepped up and take up for the Doctor Strange movie.
Second official Doctor Strange poster pic.twitter.com/DYPpHGRYOm— Scott Derrickson (@scottderrickson) April 13, 2016
The Doctor Strange director also has a tough task ahead of him, since his movie will follow Captain America: Civil War, which is getting almost universal praise from critics ahead of its release. He is introducing a brand new character into the world that looks to change drastically following Civil War. With that in mind, Doctor Strange has a lot to live up to if the character is to take a major role in the upcoming Marvel Comics universe following the next Avengers movies.
Now, thanks to the comments by Cargill, Doctor Strange might have something else hampering its success. However, Marvel has withstood much worse, such as when they removed indie darling Edgar Wright from the Ant-Man movie and still ended up with a successful release. As the Doctor Strange director, Scott Derrickson has to hope time will be as kind to him with his movie.
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