The Ancient One character was originally written as a Tibetan man
Marvel boss Kevin Feige has said he regrets whitewashing an Asian character in Doctor Strange.
The 2016 superhero movie drew controversy after British actress Tilda Swinton was cast as The Ancient One – originally written as a Tibetan man.
Swinton’s character served the same purpose as the source material’s original character as Stephen Strange’s mentor.
At the time, comedian Margaret Cho penned an open letter to Swinton explaining why her portrayal was so damaging to the Asian community.
In an interview with Men’s Health, Feige said Marvel made the wrong casting decision.
“We thought we were being so smart, and so cutting-edge, ‘We’re not going to do the cliché of the wizened, old, wise Asian man’,” he explained.
“But it was a wake-up call to say, ‘Well, wait a minute, is there any other way to figure it out? Is there any other way to both not fall into the cliché and cast an Asian actor?’ And the answer to that, of course, is yes.”
Director Scott Derrickson said the decision to cast Swinton as The Ancient One was to prevent perpetuating the Dragon Lady trope.
“I don’t feel that they’re wrong,” Derrickson said of the people who criticised the casting at the time. “I was very aware of the racial issues that I was dealing with. But I didn’t really understand the level of pain that’s out there, for people who grew up with movies like I did but didn’t see their own faces up there.”