Talks continue about the controversy over the “whitewashing” of the Ancient One in the upcoming Marvel film “Doctor Strange.” In the comics, the mentor of the newest superhero to hit the big screen, is portrayed as East Asian, but the role will be played by Tilda Swinton in the adaptation. Co-writer of the film, C. Robert Cargill recently spoke with Double Toasted about the comments and was asked, not his opinion, but his argument on the decision.
“The thing with the Ancient One is that it is Marvel’s Kobayashi Maru. There is no other character in Marvel history that is such a cultural landmine, that is absolutely unwinnable,” addressed the screenwriter. “Most of the people who have thoughts about it haven’t thought it all the way through and they go, ‘Why didn’t they just do this?’ And I can tell you why. I can tell you why every single decision that involves the Ancient One is a bad one. And just like the Kobayashi Maru, it all comes down to which way you’re willing to lose.”
Cargill went on to explain all the various situations on how their decision could be interpreted and judged, from stereotyping, to choosing another Asian character but not honoring the original race, to changing it all together and fans being disappointed.
“So what Scott [Derrickson] decided to do…He said, ‘There is no real way to win this so let’s use this opportunity to cast an amazing actress in a male role,’” explained Cargill. “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.”
Adding, “That’s just the way it’s going to be. We knew that the social justice warriors would be angry either way.”
Watch his full interview in the video above (the discussion on The Ancient One starts at the 18-minute mark) where he discusses the trailer and everything that is yet to come. “Doctor Strange” arrives in theaters on Nov. 4.