Continuing its look at Marvel’s upcoming “Doctor Strange” film this week, EW has touched upon the topic of the surgeon turned sorcerer’s mentor character The Ancient One.
Usually portrayed as an elderly Asian male sensei style figure in the comics, this on screen incarnation is being played by Tilda Swinton. Upon her casting no-one was sure if she would be playing a man or woman as the actress has the ability to play all kinds of roles.
Marvel chief Kevin Feige confirms to the outlet that she is indeed playing a woman, and the gender swap of the character was deliberate:
“We’re never afraid to change. In the comic books, Jarvis is an elderly butler. In the movies, he’s an A.I. system which becomes Paul Bettany’s Vision. We are always looking for ways to change.
I think if you look at some of the early incarnations of the Ancient One in the comics, they are what we would consider today to be quite, sort of, stereotypical. They don’t hold up to what would work today.
Also, within the storyline of the comics, and our movie, ‘the Ancient One’ is a title that many people have had. We hit very early on on, What if the Ancient One was a woman? What if the title had been passed and the current Ancient One is a woman? Oh, that’s an interesting idea. [Clicks fingers.] Tilda Swinton! Whoah! And it just hit.
She [Swinton] is a chameleon in everything she does. She has this amazing [ability to] harness of this androgynous sense. So, we use the term ‘her’ and ‘she’ in the film but, other than that, it’s very androgynous. Because it doesn’t matter.”
Feige also spoke about Chiwetel Ejiofor’s role of Baron Mordo and his relationship to The Ancient One.
“In terms of his life with the Ancient One, it’s this long and intense relationship they have that’s just very deep and very connected. I think they both recognize in Strange this certain quality that they feel is going to be very useful in a situation they’re in – just by the nature of who he is, and the way that he operates, and the way his mind works, and the certain skill set and personality that he has.
So, when they all meet, they realize that he’s somebody that can be plugged into this very surreal, interesting, sort of fascinating circumstance that they’re all in, and the dangers that they face. And so it becomes a process of assimilating him into their ways of life.”
“Doctor Strange” stars Benedict Cumberbatch in the lead along with Rachel McAdams, Mads Mikkelsen, Michael Stuhlbarg, Scott Adkins and Amy Landecker in other roles. It is scheduled to hit November 4th next year.