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.
"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."