Marvel Responds to Ancient One Casting Controversy with New Film Details

Ever since the casting of Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One in Doctor Strange was just a rumbling rumor, it has drawn the ire of many fans. Some because of the character’s gender, originally a male in the source material, and others because of the character’s race, with Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s original character hailing from Tibet. The controversy has continued to gain steam following the film’s teaser trailer release, but also after one of the movie’s screenwriters compared the casting of the character to Star Trek‘s “unwinnable” training exercise, the Kobayashi Maru. 

Now, Marvel Studios has released a statement on the controversy and revealed that in an attempt to sidestep any stereotypes present in the original version of the character, the version of the character seen in the film won’t be of Tibetan descent.

“Marvel has a very strong record of diversity in its casting of films and regularly departs from stereotypes and source material to bring its MCU to life,” they wrote in a statement to Mashable. “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. We are very proud to have the enormously talented Tilda Swinton portray this unique and complex character alongside our richly diverse cast.”

Marvel Studios is no stranger to modernizing characters in their films, with Iron Man 3‘s Mandarin (twist and all) being the most noteworthy example. What do you think of this change to The Ancient One for the film? Sound off in the comments below!

Doctor Strange stars Benedict Cumberbatch as the Sorcerer Supreme along with Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave) as Baron Mordo and Benedict Wong as Doctor Strange’s humble servant, Wong, and, in undisclosed roles, Rachel McAdams (The Vow), Michael Stuhlbarg (Pawn Sacrifice), Scott Adkins (The Bourne Ultimatum), Amy Landecker (“Transparent”), and Mads Mikkelsen (“Hannibal”).

The film is directed by Scott Derrickson (The Exorcism of Emily RoseDeliver Us From Evil) from a script by Jon Spaihts (Prometheus, Passengers) and C. Robert Cargill (Sinister). Doctor Strange tells the story of Stephen Strange (Cumberbatch), an acclaimed neurosurgeon who uncovers the hidden world of magic and alternate dimensions after a near-fatal car accident, showing audiences corners of the Marvel Cinematic Universe never before explored.

Doctor Strange opens in theaters on Friday, November 4, 2016.