Tilda Swinton isn’t just my favorite actress. She is—in my estimation—the greatest contribution to entertainment the world has ever known. She refuses to be confined to society’s petty boundaries on gender, sex, and where it’s cool to sleep. She’s fierce, feminist and flawless. And now she’s poised to make Marvel movies gorgeously strange.
THR reports Swinton is in talks to join the Bendedict Cumberbatched Doctor Strange as “The Ancient One.” Normally, this character is a dude who teaches the titular superhero sorcery. He looks like this:
Of course, I’d bet you Tilda could pull that look off without issue. She’d look devastating in a beard. But the marvelous part of this casting story is that Marvel opened the role up to actresses once they realized being male wasn’t crucial to The Ancient One’s character.
So. Benedict Cumberbatch and Tilda Swinton could very well appear in a big fat movie together, being all angular, and otherworldly sexy. I swoon at the thought of it. But while it’s easy for me—who loves Swinton and knows jack about Doctor Strange—to cheer Marvel re-imagining their characters to allow for some killer cool casting choices, there’s a troubling issue here that fans are already raising on Twitter.
If Marvel does cast Swinton as The Ancient One, it’s a great step for the representation of women in superhero movies, a genre that could called the most popular/powerful on the planet right now. But this step may be made at the cost of Asian representation as The Ancient One is traditionally depicted as a Tibetan man.
Why must representation for one marginalized group come at the expense of another? Because Marvel Entertainment, while growing their diversity, is still very reluctant to risk swapping out some of their many white dudes for women or people of color.