Tilda Swinton appreciates backlash to Ancient One whitewashing

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Disney's Marvel Cinematic Universe is attempting to create a more diverse cast in accordance with the original comics. Shang-Chi, Ironheart, Ms Marvel and The Eternals will all help to create a more varied cast of heroes. However, Marvel has had some missteps along the way. Especially when it comes to Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One.

Introduced in 2016’s Doctor Strange, the Ancient One is the teacher Steven Strange. While powerful, the character’s portrayal in the MCU wasn’t as accurate as many hoped. For example, the typically Asian character was now played by white actress Tilda Swinton.

Tilda Swinton felt off about the whitewashing

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In the years since, fans have been irked by the decision to cast a white actress in the role of the Ancient One. Even Kevin Feige has explained that the decision to whitewash the character was one of his few MCU regrets.

Now, in an interview with Variety, Tilda Swinton has echoed those same sentiments. In the interview, the actress revealed that she didn't feel comfortable in the role after discovering the character’s origins.

“I remember at the time having a question mark in my own mind, and being attendant to the public response to the idea that a Scottish woman will be playing this character, and being aware that there was no resistance at all — there was widespread welcome — which shifted at a certain point, for very good reasons with which I had an enormous amount of sympathy.”

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She didn't handle the backlash well

Following the initial backlash to her casting back before the film’s release, Swinton tried to discover why people were so angry.  The actress reached out to Korean actress Margaret Cho, someone she'd never interacted with before, to find out “why all the Asian people were so mad”. Cho was not comfortable with this stating it made her feel like a “house Asian".

Swinton explained:

“I made a questionable decision to reach out to somebody in a certain way, which was naive and clearly confusing, because their misunderstanding came about because of it.”
“I was embarrassed that I had maybe gone up a blind alley in starting the correspondence in the first place — maybe I had confused matters — but beyond that, I have zero regrets.”

Tilda Swinton did return to the role of the Ancient One for 2019’s Avengers Endgame. However, there's no evidence that she'll return to the MCU again, even for Doctor Strange 2.

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