Dr. Strange is not the most popular, or well known Marvel comic book character, which made the potential of this film even more exciting.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is doing so well that there is now room in the production schedule to delve into the roster and pick up a sixth man or two to give some shine and introduce to the general public. But there’s still a fandom to satisfy and that’s something that one can never forget when making a film about a character that has been with some people since childhood.
For every person who isn’t familiar with Doctor Stephen Vincent Strange’s story, there is at least one who is, and director Scott Derrickson, along with his casting team made a decision that has the PoC nerds on the Internet more than a little disturbed about the film, just from this 2 minutes and 3 seconds teaser.
The Ancient One, for the purpose of explaining to the casual fan, is the Sorcerer Supreme and a mentor/teacher figure to the character that will assume the alias Doctor Strange. In the comic books this character is traditionally a man of Asian heritage.
Like this guy:
However, for the purpose of this film, a bald Tilda Swinton will play the role. (We could get into the fact that Dr. Strange, himself, is technically not a traditionally white character either, but I’m trying to tackle one thing at a time here.)
Marvel in its comics and films has been on a tear when it comes to re-imagining characters in terms of race and gender bending, often in the name of diversity and offering a more multicultural look at the Marvel Universe that we traditionally know. However, their casting a character of color with an actor or actress that is not sends a different kind of message that often can seem extremely insensitive and offensive to PoC. Don’t we all remember that one movie about Egypt?
While Marvel is miles ahead of DC on the diversity front, that doesn’t now create a cushion for erasure in the future. PoC are still grossly underrepresented in Hollywood, and now is not the time to start replacing traditionally non-white characters with white actors and actresses. That will never be the move. So while the effects are very strong, and there is nothing else from first glance that the PoC nerd community can find wrong with the Dr. Strange trailer, this casting decision has put us all on high alert about this film.
We’ll be watching the way that this one continues to develop under a magnifying glass. And Marvel, Disney, as well as the director and casting director of this film need to take this criticism to heart and use it as informative assistance the next time around, because this is messing with our ability to be excited for Civil War – and no one is allowed to ruin Black Panther’s silver screen debut for me. Plus Chiwetel Ejiofor as Karl Mordo looks like a black man about that action.
P.S. – All you fan boys on the Internet getting mad about casual fans wanting to learn about new comic book characters, please get out of your feelings. This is a good thing. The culture belongs to everybody who wants to be a part of it. And that’s coming from someone who’s been a blerd since birth. Relax.