We’re not going to make a solid bet on it, but it feels safe to assume that some Marvel fans will be rocking themselves to sleep tonight over the confusing but equally intriguing news that Tilda Swinton could be joining Scott Derrickson’s Doctor Strange as the Ancient One, the wise old
man mentor to Benedict Cumberbatch’s master of the mystic arts. The reason being for such a dramatic response is because for most of the time in the comic books past, the aforementioned teacher to Steven Strange has been a decrepit old Asian fella, and I’ve just googled Tilda Swinton to confirm an assumption of mine. Guys, I don’t think she’s either.
The news comes from THR in a surprising turn for the studio, who were rumoured to have eyed Morgan Freeman and Ken Watanabe as the Tibetan mystic who entrusts Strange with special powers. After going with neither, Marvel instead retraced their steps and rebuilt the character in the process, settling on what could be the most interesting choice since Robert Downey Jr. was cast as Tony Stark.
For those that don’t know, Doctor Strange will tell the origin story of expert medical surgeon whose skill in the operating room are unmatched. Not too dissimilar from a certain billionaire playboy philanthropist (how fitting considering this isn’t the only similar role they’ve handled), Strange ends up in a car accident with his hands ruined and his career in tatters. From here he travels to Tibet in an effort to recover from his injuries but is instead introduced to a world the one he knows – a dimension beyond our own, crammed with all manner of evil forces that are itching to get over to our side, and Doctor Strange is the only man able to stop them.
As mentioned, it’s a very interesting choice to go against type, but not something Marvel haven’t done before. Way back when, comic book fans scratched their chins over the idea of The Wire and Luther star Idris Elba playing a Norse god, but he’s always been a welcome presence as Heimdall in the Thor films. Swinton should be just as welcome. An Oscar-winning actress (Michael Clayton), Swinton has coincidentally also worked with Marvel-men Chris Evans (in Snowpiercer) and Tom Hiddleston (in Only Lovers Left Alive). The question is what sort of relationship will she have with Cumberbatch’s hero? Will she play a wise Oracle-like figure ala The Matrix, or will there be a different sort of magic flying between the two when the film comes around? We will just have to wait and see if she signs on or not before filming starts later this year. Until then, you can wait to see the Doctor (no, not that one) when he arrives in cinemas November 4, 2016.
What’s your prognosis? Are you interested to see Swinton tackle the role of the hundred-year old man? Or would you see Marvel pick someone else for the role? Sound off in the comments below.