Three years ago when my buddy found out I’d moved to Los Angeles, he suggested I was secretly cast as Dr. Strange.
There were hundreds of reasons that could never have been true, but the one I retorted with was, “The fans would have a meltdown if Dr. Strange was Asian.”
Maybe it’s unfortunate that that’s the first place my mind went. But the backlash when traditionally white male lead characters are portrayed in film as either not white or not male is no small thing. To an extent, it’s understandable — race and gender-bending characters with decades of history and thousands of fervent followers for the sake of diversity shouldn’t be done lightly.
The more I thought about it though, the more I realized Asian Dr. Strange made sense.
Master surgeon? Asian. Arrogance that stems from his skills? Pretty Asian. Locks himself away in a solitary sanctuary to fight magical and mysterious threats which may or may not be delusions brought on by loneliness? Sooo Asian. It also solved a few problematic elements since having a plucky Asian sidekick or a wise old Asian master are well-trodden tropes if a character’s white.
That didn’t happen of course. Not long after, the ‘Batch was cast and his supporting staff began to fall into place. There was some controversy over race-bending The Ancient One to be white, but since they also gender-bent the character I was okay with it. It solved the aforementioned problematic element and Tilda Swinton is awesome.