Getting its start in the 1960s, "Doctor Strange" featured many stereotypical Asian tropes that would feel outdated today. With the Sorcerer Supreme finally getting the big-screen treatment next month, those behind Marvel Studio’s 14th film felt it necessary to tweak many of those characters.
The most notable example of this comes with Tilda Swinton, who portrays The Ancient One as a Celtic woman, rather than the elderly Asian man from the comics. With the character of Wong, however, Marvel kept his ethnicity intact but changed his character in other ways.
“He is not the assistant manservant,” Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige told Screenrant about the changes to Benedict Wong’s character, noting that they wanted to break away from the “white hero-Asian driver, servant” stereotype. “That is not his role in this movie at all.”
Instead, Wong is a full-fledged warrior of the mystic arts, and a much better one than Stephen Strange, at least for most of the movie. “Everyone is more talented when it comes – for 90% of the movie, the magical abilities and the mastery of the mystic arts than Strange is, and Wong is a fellow warrior who has been a master in his own right.”
Feige explained the film version of Wong as a protector of “some of the most valuable relics and books” in Kamar-Taj, the base of operations for The Ancient One. “He doesn’t have a lot of time to worry about Strange.”
Along with Swinton and Wong, “Doctor Strange” stars Benedict Cumberbatch in the title role, as well as Rachel McAdams, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Mads Mikkelsen. It hits theaters Nov. 5.