Five years on, Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige is still wrestling with the fallout from casting actress Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One in ‘Doctor Strange’.
Speaking to Men’s Health about Marvel’s upcoming ‘Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings’ — starring an all-Asian cast led by SImu Liu — Feige said the uproar over casting Swinton as the Tibetan magic arts guru in the 2016 film was “a wake up call.”
“We thought we were being so smart and so cutting-edge,” Feige said. “We’re not going to do the cliché of the wizened, old, wise Asian man. 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.”
Swinton’s casting as the character, who was originally Tibetan in the comic books, drew flak ahead of the release of the Benedict Cumberbatch-led 2016 superhero movie.
At the time, Marvel Studios defended the casting citing “creative freedom”.
“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 [Marvel Cinematic Universe] to life,” a statement issued at the time said. “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,” the statement added.
‘Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings’ comes to cinemas on September 3.