tilda swinton

Per THR, a fellow well regarded thespian may be joining Benedict Cumberbatch in Doctor Strange, as the outlet reports that Tilda Swinton (Michael Clayton, Only Lovers Left Alive) is entering negotiations to play The Ancient One in the upcoming Marvel picture.

Were Swinton to join the cast, this would be her third comic book movie role, having played Gabriel in Constantine and the delightful Minister Mason in Snowpiercer.

The Ancient One, as most of you who are up on your Marvel lore probably already know, served as Stephen Strange’s mentor in the Himalayas. When the character died in the comics, Strange began to summon him through the spiritual plane and he continued to aide the good doctor.

THR also reports that Marvel originally sought a male for the role, but that the studio eventually retooled the role for a female.

It’s hard to argue that there’s any actress (and perhaps any performer, male or female) that’s been on a more incredible streak in terms of on-screen acclaim than Swinton. The sheer diversity in her role selection also speaks volumes about her avoidance to tread the same ground or be type-cast in any way. Honestly, Swinton is one of the few “sure things” in Hollywood right now, and if Marvel secures her services, it would prove quite a coup.

Doctor Strange, directed by Scott Derrickson (Sinister), will see release on November 4, 2016.


  1. I think it’s a great choice. Swinton always brings an eerie, otherworldly vibe to her performances. With her casting, the Ancient One has just turned from a cliche into a character.

    I’ve always loved Dr. Strange comics, from Ditko on, but the Ancient One was never an original character. He was always a riff on other venerable Asian masters from the pulps and novels of the Twenties, like the lama Chang of Lost Horizon. And since Strange’s creation, there have been plenty of this archetype in TV and movies from Master Po of Kung Fu and Remo Williams’ Chiun to Ken Watanabe’s fake Ra’s Al Ghul in Batman Begins. So I think a fresh start with the Ancient One is definitely in order.

  2. Whitewashing is an issue.

    OTOH Tilda Swinton has the chops to play all the roles in a Dr. Strange movie except, maybe, Baron Mordo. A killer Dormammu.

  3. I feel about this the way I did about the Mandarin casting in Iron Man . . . Whitewashing Asian characters bothers me, but the character being whitewashed is a stereotypical trope. I personally know a ton of Asian-American actors who are working hard to break through, but I don’t think they’re too eager to play Fu Manchu/Yellow Peril villains or ancient, incrutable wise men.

  4. So, they are white-washing The Ancient One and trying to cover it by gender-bending the role? Terrible.

    Tilda Swinton is awesome though and she is a good fit for the Doctor Strange universe. I just wish that they had found another part for her.

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