One of the boldest casting choices for Doctor Strange, and perhaps in the history of Marvel Studios, is Tilda Swinton in the role of the Ancient One. In the Marvel Comics Universe, the mentor of Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Karl Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is an elderly Asian man, but producer and Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige says casting Swinton in the role is only part of a tradition of bold changes from Marvel Studios.
“We’re never afraid to change,” Feige tells Entertainment Weekly. “In the comic books, Jarvis is an elderly butler. In the movies, he’s an A.I. system which becomes Paul Bettany’s Vision. We are always looking for ways to change. I think if you look at some of the early incarnations of the Ancient One in the comics, they are what we would consider today to be quite, sort of, stereotypical. They don’t hold up to what would work today. Also, within the storyline of the comics, and our movie, ‘the Ancient One’ is a title that many people have had. We hit very early on, What if the Ancient One was a woman? What if the title had been passed and the current Ancient One is a woman? Oh, that’s an interesting idea. [Clicks fingers.] Tilda Swinton! Whoah! And it just hit.”
However, there’s still some confusion about whether Swinton will actually be playing a female Ancient One in Doctor Strange.
“Look, she’s a chameleon in everything she does,” says Feige. “She has this amazing [ability to] harness of this androgynous sense. So, we use the term ‘her’ and ‘she’ in the film but, other than that, it’s very androgynous. Because it doesn’t matter.”
Was does Swinton herself have to say on the matter?
“I wouldn’t know how to answer that one. I think it’s all in the eye of the beholder,” she says.
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