In the past weeks the conversations about the lack of diversity in Hollywood and the whitewashing of The Ancient One role in the upcoming Marvel film “Doctor Strange” have made headlines. The film’s writer, C. Robert Cargill, director Scott Derrickson and even Tilda Swinton have responded to the criticisms that have been made about the casting of a white woman in a role originally written as a Tibetan character.
Now, in an interview with Deadline, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige responded to the controversy by saying that they tried to avoid stereotypes and make all decisions for creative, not political reasons.
“We make all of our decisions on all of our films, and certainly on ‘Doctor Strange,’ for creative reasons and not political reasons. That’s just always been the case,” stated Feige. “I’ve always believed that it is the films themselves that will cross all borders and really get people to identify with these heroes, and that always comes down to creative and not political reasons.”
“The casting of The Ancient One was a major topic of conversation in the development and the creative process of the story,” added Feige. “We didn’t want to play into any of the stereotypes found in the comic books, some of which go back as far as 50 years or more. We felt the idea of gender swapping the role of The Ancient One was exciting. It opened up possibilities, it was a fresh way into this old and very typical storyline. Why not make the wisest bestower of knowledge in the universe to our heroes in the particular film a woman instead of a man?”
In the interview he also commented on the statement that Cargill made in an interview about not offending Chinese officials with a Tibetan character, “That story was completely erroneous,” he replied.
Last week the film’s director also sent a message when the social media campaign #whitewashedOUT ignited and various Asian actors including Margaret Cho and George Takei expressed their anger for losing roles to white actors. Feige pointed out Derrickson’s tweet by saying:
“We cast Tilda out of a desire to subvert stereotypes, not feed into them. I don’t know if you saw [Doctor Strange director] Scott Derrickson’s tweet the other day. He said we’re listening and we’re learning, every day. That really is true,” expressed Feige. “We also know that people expect actions and not words in a Q&A, and I’m hopeful that some of our upcoming announcements are going to show that we’ve been listening.”