When Tilda Swinton was confirmed to be joining the cast of Doctor Strange as The Ancient One, many wondered just how she would do so. The character is traditionally male in the comics and since Swinton has played a man before, there was thought that she could do the same thing with Marvel.
Swinton has even gone on record saying she is unsure how she will play the character, but does it really matter if she plays it as a man or a woman? Well, according to Kevin Feige, it does not. He spoke with Entertainment Weekly about the complexities of the role where he said,
Look, she’s a chameleon in everything she does. She has this amazing [ability to] harness of this androgynous sense. So, we use the term ‘her’ and ‘she’ in the film but, other than that, it’s very androgynous. Because it doesn’t matter.
While The Ancient One may be referred to as “she” or “her” in the movie, it will not be so cut and dry for the audience. Even Swinton, who is playing the role does not know the answer.
I wouldn’t know how to answer that one. I think it’s all in the eye of the beholder.
The idea to make The Ancient One a woman was something that came up during the pre-production stage for Doctor Strange. It was not a decision made after casting Swinton, but her name was quickly thought of when the idea arose.
We’re never afraid to change. In the comic books, Jarvis is an elderly butler. In the movies, he’s an A.I. system which becomes Paul Bettany’s Vision. We are always looking for ways to change. I think if you look at some of the early incarnations of the Ancient One in the comics, they are what we would consider today to be quite, sort of, stereotypical. They don’t hold up to what would work today. Also, within the storyline of the comics, and our movie, ‘the Ancient One’ is a title that many people have had. We hit very early on on, What if the Ancient One was a woman? What if the title had been passed and the current Ancient One is a woman? Oh, that’s an interesting idea. [Clicks fingers.] Tilda Swinton! Whoah! And it just hit.
Marvel gender-swapped Carrie-Anne Moss‘s character in Jessica Jones earlier this year to perfection and I see no problems with them doing the same thing with The Ancient One and Swinton. As long as we get a great performance from the character, we should all be happy with the portrayal, no matter what the gender is.
Doctor Strange is scheduled to hit theaters November 4, 2016.