Marvel Denies 'Whitewashing' In Doctor Strange

Marvel has defended its "strong record of diversity" after being criticised for casting Caucasian actress Tilda Swinton in the role of a Tibetan male character in Doctor Strange.

One of the film's screenwriters has suggested that the decision about the Ancient One was made to avoid potentially offending China's government and moviegoers, who now represent the world's second-largest audience.

After his comments circulated widely online, the writer said he was only expressing his opinion and not that of Marvel's.

The studio released a statement in which said it has "a very strong record of diversity in its casting of films".

"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."

Doctor Strange

Hollywood producers are increasingly attempting to woo the Chinese audience and government with China-friendly story lines and Chinese actors.

Only a limited number of Hollywood films are allowed into China each year and those dealing with political or social topics frowned upon by the ruling Communist Party are doomed to miss the cut.

Movies that simply mention Tibet and Tibetans aren't necessarily displeasing to Beijing, although those that criticise its rule over the Himalayan region, such as the 1997 film Seven Years In Tibet starring Brad Pitt, most definitely are.

China says Tibet as been part of its territory for more than seven centuries, although many Tibetans say the region was effectively independent for most of that time.

Screenwriter C Robert Cargill said casting a Tibetan actor as the Ancient One would have been a bad idea.


He said people would have criticised the movie as "it's another white guy goes to the Orient, adopts their ways and then comes back and it's the great white hero story".

Cargill said director Scott Derrickson instead decided to "make one of the most powerful characters in the Marvel universe a woman".

Doctor Strange stars Benedict Cumberbatch as the titular neurosurgeon who goes on a quest to find the Ancient One and ends up being trained in otherworldly powers.

It will be released in the UK on 28 October and 4 November in the US.

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