It probably goes without saying that “Doctor Strange,” the newest and much-hyped entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, carries with it a certain set of complications. In the film, a white American surgeon travels to a mythical temple in the Far East to learn the mystic secrets of an ancient order of sorcerers overseen by Tilda Swinton, a white woman of U.K. descent. Kevin Feige, the mastermind behind all things MCU, is fully aware of the strange — sorry — casting choice, but recently explained that it’s all part of a bigger plan to diversify the studio’s roster of stars.
In a interview with Vulture, the Marvel Studios President said that Swinton’s casting was an attempt to circumvent the problematic stereotype of a wizened Asian male tutor, even though that meant continuing Hollywood’s trend of underrepresenting Asian actors. Feige acknowledged the criticism of that decision, but contended that “in the movies we’ve already made, and certainly in the movies that are coming up, it will be as inclusive a group of characters as one could want.”
That being said, Feige vows that the MCU would only continue to diversify in future releases. “For us, it’s important that we don’t feel like a completely white, European cast,” he said, noting that the next four releases in Marvel’s lineup feature women of color as their leading female and/or love interests. According to the interview, “Spider-Man: Homecoming” will be the most diverse Marvel film to date, which Feige sees as merely a representation of the real world.
“Our filmmaker [Jon Watts] came in and had pictures of real high schools, and they are as diverse as you could imagine…That was something that was important to us, to set it apart from other Spidey films that have been made — to carve that niche — and to have it represent the world today.”
Feige pointed to the comic book origins as part of the reason to continue Marvel’s push. “The comics have felt like that sometimes, in the early days, but frankly, even the comics in the ’60s…I mean, Black Panther was created in the ’60s,” he said. “You look at Captain America’s team [back then] and yes, there are things to cringe at, but they were being progressive at the time.”
Audiences will get to judge for themselves if Feige and company are starting to make good on their promises when “Doctor Strange,” also starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams and Mads Mikkelsen, hits theaters in the U.S. Friday, November 4.
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