The teaser trailer is out for Marvel's upcoming Doctor Strange, and it looks glossy and entertaining, just like we've come to expect from the studio. I'm sure it will earn a bazillion dollars, but now that I've seen the footage I'm even more irritated with Marvel's decision to transform the Tibetan-born character The Ancient One into Bald Tilda Swinton. Don't get me wrong: I love Tilda Swinton, and I always approve of adding more female characters to action films, but this decision feels really, really arrogant. Bear with me here, because I admit I'm reading a lot into a slightly-less-than-2-minute-long trailer.

First off, Marvel is perfectly aware that white-washing is the kind of thing that draws criticism, which might be why this trailer is careful to give us a look at Chiwetel Ejiofor as Baron Mordo (previously a white character)—it's like they're saying: "Look at how diverse and inclusive we are!" But it's not like one supporting-role casting choice magically gives Marvel carte blanche to white-wash another, and the studio's choice to ignore the backlash against movies like Pan just makes it clear that they consider themselves above such pedestrian worries.

Second, this just seems so unnecessary. What, could they seriously not find a single suitable Asian actor? Or if they were hellbent on Swinton and comfortable changing the character, why not write her as, like, The Scottish Ancient One? Why deck out a British actress in "exotic" robes and call it good? The whole thing feels like some Marvel executive was leaning back in his $40,000 office chair one day, throwing darts at a target held up by one of his assistants, and suddenly said: "You know what would be sick? Tilda Swinton dressed up as that kid from Avatar!" And they rolled with that, cultural sensitivity and possible backlash be damned, because it would just look so awesome.
Posted by: Julianka


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