Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige has opened up about the whitewashing controversy that plagued 2016’s Benedict Cumberbatch-starrer MCU movie Doctor Strange. The film starred Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One, Doctor Strange’s mentor and a Celtic mystic who resided in Kamar-Taj, a location in the Himalayas.
In the comics, Ancient One is a Tibetan man, and thus the film’s production and release were surrounded by accusations of whitewashing.
While speaking to Men’s Health in a cover story for Shang-Chi, Feige said, “We thought we were being so smart, and so cutting-edge. We’re not going to do the cliché of the wizened, old, wise Asian man.”
He added, “But it was a wake-up call to say, ‘Well, wait a minute, is there any other way to figure it out? Is there any other way to both not fall into the cliché and cast an Asian actor?’ And the answer to that, of course, is yes.” The film, despite the controversy, became a huge critical and commercial success for Marvel Studios. It earned more than 677 million dollars worldwide.
It also scored 89 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus was, “Doctor Strange artfully balances its outré source material against the blockbuster constraints of the MCU, delivering a thoroughly entertaining superhero origin story in the bargain.”
Meanwhile, Marvel is course-correcting with the upcoming movie Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, a movie led by Chinese-American actor Simu Liu. The cast of the film, directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, is predominantly Asia, a first in MCU. It will release on September 3 this year.