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Marvel boss Kevin Feige expresses regret at not casting an Asian actor as The Ancient One

The Ancient One
(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Kevin Feige has spoken out about the decision to cast Tilda Swinton – a white woman – as The Ancient One, a character traditionally portrayed as an elderly Asian man, in 2016’s Doctor Strange.

In a rare move for the Marvel Studios president, Feige reflected on what he now believes was the wrong choice in a new interview with Men’s Health (opens in new tab).

"We thought we were being so smart, and so cutting-edge. 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," Feige admitted.

It’s clearly not a knock against Swinton’s performance, though it speaks to Marvel Studios’ desire to now get these things right. The Ancient One, who also appeared briefly in Avengers: Endgame, was seen by some as an example of ‘whitewashing’ – the act of replacing an Asian character with a white actor.

Things, though, are changing. Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings, a predominantly Asian-led movie, is arriving this September and Feige also describes it as part of the "next sort of evolution of the MCU."

For more on what’s coming to the MCU this year and beyond, check out our guide to Marvel Phase 4 as well as a wider look at the new Marvel TV shows just over the horizon.

I'm the Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, focusing on news, features, and interviews with some of the biggest names in film and TV. On-site, you'll find me marveling at Marvel and providing analysis and room temperature takes on the newest films, Star Wars and, of course, anime. Outside of GR, I love getting lost in a good 100-hour JRPG, Warzone, and kicking back on the (virtual) field with Football Manager. My work has also been featured in OPM, FourFourTwo, and Game Revolution.