Doctor Strange brought back a character to curb whitewashing complaints
Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson took a lot of heat for his decision to cast British actress Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One–a character consistently depicted in the comics as an Asian man. In an attempt to make amends, Derrickson told the Los Angeles Daily News he decided to bring back one character that had initially been cut from the movie: Wong, Doctor Strange's Asian butler (played by The Martian's Benedict Wong).
"I was going to leave Wong out of the movie at first," Derrickson said. "He was an Asian sidekick manservant. What was I supposed to do with that? But once the decision was made to cast Tilda, we brought Wong back because, unlike the Ancient One, he could be completely subverted as a character and reworked into something that didn't fall into any of the stereotypes of the comics."
Derrickson said diversity in film is "absolutely the responsibility of producers and directors," and he thought the decision to cast Swinton was actually a step in the right direction.
"In this movie, we have about as diverse a cast as I think you can get, and that was a very conscious decision," he said. "Tilda was a way of adding diversity in terms of not just an ethereal, enigmatic, otherworldly actress playing an ethereal, enigmatic, otherworldly character, but we're bringing a middle-aged woman who's not 28 years old in leather pants into the Marvel Universe in a major role."
Benedict Cumberbatch stars as Doctor Strange, and he's joined in the cast by Rachel McAdams, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Mads Mikkelsen, and Benjamin Bratt.
Doctor Strange arrives in theaters Nov. 4, and Marvel recently unveiled the international poster. Swinton also opened up about her role as the Ancient One in a behind-the-scenes video.