“We thought we were very smart, one step ahead,” admits the boss of Marvel.
From its casting, in 2015, the choice of Tilda swinton to interpret L’Ancien in Doctor Strange has caused a lot of ink to flow, because in the comics, the character is an Asian man. Why did you choose a British actress to play it against Benedict Cumberbatch? While the second installment is being created, and Marvel is preparing a film about a Chinese superhero, Shang-Chi and the legend of the ten rings, the studio boss Kevin feige returns to this controversy with Men’s Health : “We thought we were very smart, one step ahead. We did not want to fall into the cliché of the wise old magician from Asia. But that should have immediately put us in our ears, we should have wondered : ‘Wait a minute, is there really a way to do it differently? Can’t we avoid the cliché while casting an Asian actor? The answer to that question is yes, obviously. “
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To fully understand his words, we must come back to the reasons for the anger of some of the fans. In 2016, the closer the release got, the more the controversy grew, so much so that Marvel decided to issue a statement publicly defending Tilda Swinton several months before its release: “We pay great attention to diversity in the cast of our films and we regularly try to break stereotypes and detach ourselves from the comics to bring the Marvel Cinematic Universe to life. The Old One is a title, which is not exclusively worn. by a character, but on the contrary crosses time and in our film, her origin is Celt. We are very proud to have the very talented Tilda Swinton to embody this unique and complex character within our rich and diverse cast. “
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C. Robert Cargill , who collaborated on the screenplay of the first Doctor Strange, he explained, still in 2016, that the team had found itself in a dilemma when it came to finding the ideal interpreter of The Elder, who is of Tibetan origin in the comics : “The thing about the Old One is that there is no right solution, he explained, taking as an example the simulation of Star Trek, that it is impossible to win. He’s Marvel’s Kobayashi Maru! I’ve read that people get upset about this and it’s really frustrating because they haven’t really thought about it. They say: ‘The production should have made such a choice’, but we thought of all the possible solutions and each one would have displeased certain spectators. Every decision made around the Old is bound to be bad. Because at the base, it was a rather racist stereotype, already. Who lives in a politically turbulent region: Tibet. If we choose a Tibetan actor for him, it could piss off a billion Chinese people, who will think it’s bullshit, and their government would put pressure: ‘Hey, you know we are the people who watch the most. films in the world? You know that, eh? Well, we won’t broadcast yours, because you made a political choice! ‘
If we do the opposite and take a Chinese for the role? I have read that some people are campaigning for Michelle Yeoh to embody it. This actress is amazing, I would love to make a movie with her, but if you really think casting a Chinese girl to play a Tibetan is a good idea, you are completely missing the mark, p ***! She could be Japanese, Indian … Everyone has their own proposal depending on their country of origin, and this is what basically means that there is no good solution. We could have done without, to ensure that the Old one does not exist in our version of Doctor Strange. So we wouldn’t have been called racists, but that was to do without an interesting and important character in the hero’s story. Based on this observation of ‘Marvel’s Kobayashi Maru’, Scott (Derrickson, the director, editor’s note) thought he better cast an actress that everyone loves. Always a wonderful actress, even though her role was originally male. (…) So one of the most powerful characters in the Marvel universe is now a woman. “
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