Doctor Strange Director Admits Wong Wasn't Originally Part Of The Film

With Doctor Strange set to hit theaters later this year, fans are more eager than ever to see the film’s eclectic cast. The film features characters like Stephen Strange, Baron Mordo, and The Ancient One who will usher in a new, magical realm to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Another fan-favorite character from Doctor Strange also stars in the film as Wong will make an appearance. But, now, director Scott Derrickson has admitted the Sorcerer Supreme’s sidekick almost didn’t make the cut.

Speaking with The Daily News, Scott shared his thoughts about the need for diversity in superhero films and said Wong had initially been left out of Doctor Strange. However, the character was pulled into the project once the film brought on Tilda Swinton to play The Ancient One, a character who’s Tibetan. The director spoke about the controversially casting decision and admitted it prompted him to write Wong into the film.

“I was very happy with that [Tilda’s casting], but I was also very conscious that in doing that I was erasing a significant potential Asian role,” he explained. “I was going to leave Wong out of the movie at first; he was an Asian sidekick manservant, what was I supposed to do with that? But once the decision was made to cast Tilda, we brought Wong back because, unlike the Ancient One, he could be completely subverted as a character and reworked into something that didn’t fall into any of the stereotypes of the comics.”

And, according to Benedict Wong, the director has made good on his promise to modernize the sidekick. The actor, who will be playing Wong, said in an interview that he’s “certainly not going to be the tea-making manservant.”

“We’re heading in a different direction. He’s more of a drill sergeant,” Benedict explained. “There isn’t any martial arts for Wong in Doctor Strange actually, he’s more of a drill sergeant to Kamar-Taj. He’s one of the masters of sorcery.”

For many fans, it is reassuring to hear Scott speak about his desire to see inclusivity in Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters. “Diversity in movies is absolutely the responsibility of producers and directors,” he stressed in his recent interivew. “In this movie, we have about as diverse a cast as I think you can get, and that was a very conscious decision.”

As for his reasoning to bring Tilda on board, the director noted that “Tilda was a way of adding diversity in terms of not just an ethereal, enigmatic, otherworldly actress playing an ethereal, enigmatic, otherworldly character, but we’re bringing a middle-aged woman who’s not 28 years old in leather pants into the Marvel Universe in a major role.”

However, there are still those who are upset that the actress will be playing The Ancient One. Tilda has spoken about the controversy several times as her casting caused waves in Hollywood, leaving activists to criticize the industry’s white-washing habits. Saying she wasn’t asked to play an Asian character, Marvel has even echoed Tilda’s words and stressed that 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.”

Doctor Strange will hit theaters on November 4 2016.