It’s no Black Widow movie, but the shift toward using women in more leading roles in comic book movies sure is encouraging.
Recently, it was just announced that Tilda Swinton is in talks with Marvel to join the cast of Doctor Strange to play the Ancient One, a Tibetan mystic who is a mentor to Dr. Strange, played by Benedict Cumberbatch.
The original character was written as a male role and, originally Marvel Studios was looking for a male actor. But after retooling it, they have now decided to make the Ancient One a woman.
Now, I love Tilda Swinton. She is an Oscar-winning actress, and I’ve never seen her in anything I didn’t love. But it is hard to not ask the question: Why not an Asian woman? Is this another case of whitewashing movies?
While seemingly eternally adaptable, Swinton is not nor can ever be of Asian descent.
And the internet jumped on that fact immediately.
Comments have been rolling in asking why they didn’t look for or choose an Asian actress for the role.
On a Hollywood Reporter article, one (aptly named) commenter, cynic000, very eloquently pointed out, “This news is somewhat unsettling for me. On the one hand, casting a woman to play The Ancient One is a brilliant move and Swinton is a superb actress. On the other, why not cast an Asian woman in this pivotal, and originally Asian, role? Yeoh, Liu, Ling and any of a dozen Asian actresses would be excellent choices. Hollywood does a woeful job of employing Asians as a rule so race-swapping this role might be a rather bad idea.”
Then there are the more critical comments, like Solid Snake’s, “whitewashing and gender swapping in one move that is a new record congrats marvel.”
One outraged commenter asked, “Will Swinton wear yellowface to look Asian?”
There are dozens of comments along these lines, several pointing out other times that Marvel movies swapped, like Batman running into Liam Neeson in the Himalayas.
So, while it is great to see women being moved into more roles, it looks like we still have a long way to go for equality in Hollywood.