Tilda Swinton in Talks to Play The Ancient One in Marvel’s ‘Doctor Strange’
For all those who’ve said that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a far too male dominated landscape... well, you’re right. But, it looks like Marvel is at least trying to work on that and has made one big, exciting step forward in the right direction. Oscar-winning actor Tilda Swinton is in talks to star alongside Benedict Cumberbatch in Marvel’s upcoming Doctor Strange as The Ancient One, a role originally written for a male.
The Ancient One is a hundreds year old mystic who has mastered magic and travels the Earth, battling demons, later settling in the Himalayas with an order of monks. In the comics, The Ancient One was an older, Tibetan man, — and earlier in the film’s production, they had talked with Ken Watanabe, Morgan Freeman and Bill Nighy for the role — but the character’s identity is being altered slightly for the film. In the film, the character will train the villainous Baron Mordo before sensing evil in his heart and turning to mentor Dr. Stephen Strange, eventually bestowing on him the powerful Eye of Agamotto.
Swinton’s casting is exciting for a variety of reasons. The first, and most obvious, is that the Marvel Cinematic Universe (and superhero movies as a whole) don’t need another all-powerful male character; there are plenty of those. It’s honorable that Marvel was looking at a group of actors that were ethnically diverse, but even better than they were thinking further outside of the box to cast a woman.
Another is that Swinton is just a fantastic actor and Marvel would be lucky to have her in any role in any film. She’s the type of actor who makes any movie she’s in that much better, just with her mere presence (see: Snowpiercer). Even better, her ethereal presence makes her an almost perfect fit for someone with mystical powers. She already feels pretty mystical as it is.
Now, let’s not go patting Marvel on the back too hard just yet. While this is a great step forward, they’ve still shown many signs recently that their thinking towards women in superhero movies is a little archaic. It will take more than one casting (even an admittedly great piece of casting) to reverse that. But with this, the news that they’re talking to Ava DuVernay about directing Black Panther and the news that they’re searching for a female director for Captain Marvel (their first female-led superhero film) are at least signs of improvement.
Swinton can be seen next in Amy Schumer’s Trainwreck (further proof that you just have no idea what she’s going to do next).
Scott Derrickson (Sinister) is directing the film and shooting is expected to begin later this year in London.
Doctor Strange opens in theaters on November 4, 2016.