Following the first Doctor Strange photos, new character details, and more on Doctor Strange’s powers, Marvel Studios‘ Kevin Feige revealed to EW more juicy Doctor Strange details, this time about The Ancient One and the decision to cast Tilda Swinton (Snowpiercer, Trainwreck) instead of a typical elderly Asian male sensei-type.
“We’re never afraid to change,” says Feige. “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 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.”
While Swinton is designated as female in the film, her gender really has no impact on the story.
“Look, she’s a chameleon in everything she does,” adds 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.”
Actor Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave, Children of Men) also chimed in to EW on the character of Baron Mordo and his relationship to The Ancient one.
“In terms of his life with the Ancient One, it’s this long and intense relationship they have that’s just very deep and very connected,” says Ejiofor. “I think they both recognize in Strange this certain quality that they feel is going to be very useful in a situation they’re in — just by the nature of who he is, and the way that he operates, and the way his mind works, and the certain skill set and personality that he has. So, when they all meet, they realize that he’s somebody that can be plugged into this very surreal, interesting, sort of fascinating circumstance that they’re all in, and the dangers that they face. And so it becomes a process of assimilating him into their ways of life.”
As for the big question of whether or not Mordo will make the leap from ally to villain…
“Oh, he’s a very complex character that, really, I don’t think can be nailed down either way, you know,” Ejiofor teases. “I guess it’s something to experience, is what I’d say.”
Doctor Strange stars Benedict Cumberbatch in the lead with Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave) as Baron Mordo, Tilda Swinton (Only Lovers Left Alive) as The Ancient One and, in undisclosed roles, Rachel McAdams (The Vow), Michael Stuhlbarg (Pawn Sacrifice), Scott Adkins (The Bourne Ultimatum), Amy Landecker (“Transparent”), and Mads Mikkelsen (“Hannibal”).
Scheduled to hit theaters November 4, 2016, Doctor Strange is scripted by Jon Spaihts (Prometheus, Passengers) and directed by Scott Derrickson (The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Deliver Us From Evil). It is said to follow the story of neurosurgeon Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) who, after a horrific car accident, discovers the hidden world of magic and alternate dimensions.