Marvel’s Doctor Strange Director Has Short and to the Point Message About Whitewashing

DoctorStrangeAncientOne4

As anger over Hollywood whitewashing continues, Doctor Strange writer/director Scott Derrickson has finally made a statement regarding casting of his Marvel film.

Derrickson took to Twitter to simply say:

Raw anger/hurt from Asian-Americans over Hollywood whitewashing, stereotyping & erasure of Asians in cInema.

I am listening and learning.

Good to hear.

His message comes a week after co-writer C. Robert Cargill’s thoughts on the subject started making headlines and a day after the hashtag #whitewashedOUT took Twitter by storm (read some more about this at TheNerdsOfColor.org).

Cargill originally gave an interview in which he attempted to explain why the creators chose Tilda Swinton to play the Tibetan character, the Ancient One. He later clarified that the thoughts he shared were only his justification and even later told the NY Times he came to the project after the first draft and was not part of the casting process.

Marvel later gave their own statement which they said they felt they had a “very strong record of diversity in its casting of films” and revealed the Ancient One would be of Celtic origin in Doctor Strange. That still left many of us scratching out heads considering nothing in the film reads anywhere near Celtic. Regardless, it’s good to hear Derrickson is listening to those of us who are choosing to be vocal about these issues, even if nothing can be done to change the film as it stands.

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  • EricP

    Of course Marvel (and every studio) needs to do more to bring diversity to the screen. Marvel was in a tough spot here though – if they stay true to the original origin of the Mystic, it stays as a racist stereotype of the mysterious Asian, that it was in the comics. (I’ve never read Dr. Strange, but 60’s Marvel is pretty racist/stereotypical a lot of the time) They change it and can’t escape whitewashing criticism.
    I don’t remember this much fervor when Ben Kingsley was cast as Mandarin in Iron Man 3. (which made a smart change to the character I thought)

    • “if they stay true to the original origin of the Mystic, it stays as a racist stereotype of the mysterious Asian” I don’t agree with this. I think you can stay true to the character being Tibetan and just not be racist about it. A character being Asian doesn’t inherently make the story racist.

      • EricP

        Fair enough. I think there are still real world political concerns with a Tibetan character and Marvel wanting the movie to get to China, even if they say the character decision was a creative one and not political.
        Regardless, we need more Asian characters, superheroes or otherwise.

  • Zefram Mann

    I suppose it was the best response possible, or at least to be expected, in this situation.

  • MCU is fantastic, but it has a lot of catching up to do with the comics division in order for Marvel to really make that claim.

  • Nuuni Nuunani

    Umm…Does Marvel have a strong record for diversity in their films?

    I mean, they did have War Machine as Tonys black best friend (and replaced the actor)

    And they have Falcon who is Captain Americas black best friend.
    And you have Hiemdall who is Thors black best friend.
    Those aside, I count two women on the Avengers out of what? Twelve?

    Marvel previously could have made the claim that they were staying true to a characters ethnicity, though this recent move with the Ancient One proves that it is not something their concerned about.

    Further, DC racebent Deadshot (lead for Suicide Squad) And Aquaman. (Who is getting his own movie.) While Marvel is thirteen films in without a female or POC lead. With eighteen movies into their little universe before we get either of those options.

    • transgojobot

      I’m still waiting for a super-powered black woman in the MCU. It’s ridiculous that Monica Rambeau has yet to be introduced.

      I’ve grown to accept that Monica won’t be Marvel Studios’ first Captain Marvel, but there’s no stopping them from having her debut as Spectrum/Pulsar/Photon. Plus, her origin story isn’t terribly original either:

      Monica Rambeau was a lieutenant in the New Orleans Harbor Patrol. Fate came upon her one day, when she gained super powers after being bombarded by extradimensional energy, produced by an energy disruptor weapon created by a criminal scientist. [link]

      Of course, with Marvel’s “strong record of diversity”, I’m all but expecting Monica to be introduced as Carol’s “black best friend”.

      • Evelyn Starshine

        Misty Knight should have been one of the first netflix shows, not a minor character in Luke Cage too

  • Anna

    “Strong record of diversity” yeah ok marvel

  • Stephen “Soup” Strange

    I also heard that he used the phrase ‘social justice warriors’ incorrectly. He was referring to GlobbleGorpers, essentially.

  • Peter Vervloet

    Marvel is free to list how many Asians they’ve cast in major roles in their films, I’ll be waiting~

    Also the director could’ve listened and learned BEFORE making the casting calls. The ship has sailed now, Derrickson.

  • Social Justice Kamen Rider

    “I am listening and learning and also buying a new yacht this weekend”

  • Marie

    Hopefully he’s being sincere.

    • bandit_queen

      Fingers crossed, but it’s really a shame it’s too late to do anything to fix Doctor Strange. And I was so hopeful when they originally announced it :-/

      • Chris

        Yeah. It kinda feels a bit too little too late.

        Great that it’s being heard, but this one’s already in the can, and I don’t have enough faith in the studios to think the next will be better.

  • How could he have not expected this outcry? Has he been living under a rock and not listened to any other casting complaints of the last few years? I appreciate that he’s learning a lesson, but he’s a ridiculously slow learner if he’s just figuring this out now.

    • Calyn

      It’s, unfortunately, exceedingly easy for a white dude who doesn’t spend a ton of time on the internet to be completely oblivious to these kinds of discussions.

      There’s a really awesome writeup in an iO9 article that was discussion a question about God’s of Egypt (another whitewashed movie that also happened to be giant steaming pile of crap), that explains how surprisingly easy it can be to fall into this trap. http://io9.gizmodo.com/how-did-such-an-obvious-bomb-as-gods-of-egypt-ever-get-1762708349