Tag Archives: Doctor Strange

Asian Comic Book Fan Watches Doctor Strange…: An Addendum

Even though I wrote a little over a thousand words last week on my experiences with Doctor Strange [required reading for this blog post] there were a couple of additional criticisms I wanted to level against both that specific film and the industry as a whole. While I covered pretty thoroughly how Asians were poorly represented in Marvel Studio’s latest offering, what I didn’t really touch on was why.

When Diversity Means Painting With All the Colour of the Wind

In the months leading up to the release of Doctor Strange the conversation about the Ancient One’s casting began heating up. With mainstream news outlets picking up on the controversy there were many waiting to hear from the creators themselves, which brings us to the episode of the Double Toasted podcast that guest starred screenwriter C. Robert Cargill.

While his explanations regarding the character have since been championed by those defending the casting decision, even after his rescinding all comments made, and in spite of them being refuted by others, in particular by Shaun of the No, Totally! podcast, what I want to focus on are what he says right after that:

Now if you don’t want to actually listen to him, which I find perfectly understandable, I’ve also transcribed the relevant quote [emphasis added]:

“But when you start to see this film you’ll see that what we were able to do with Kamar-Taj, we made one of the most multicultural films most people have seen in years. Like this film is [. . .] I’m not certain that there’s a single major race that isn’t represented with a speaking role in this film. It allowed us to bring in, even as small characters to build upon later, a lot of characters from the Doctor Strange universe who come from all over the world. We were able to play with a lot of things and it gave us a lot to work with.”

Continue reading

Asian Comic Book Fan Watches Doctor Strange with Low Expectations of Racial Representation, Is Unsurprised but Writes Blog Post Anyway

This is the second part of a series I began almost exactly three years ago with “Asian Comic Book Fan Watches Thor: The Dark World Expecting Racial Representation, Deals with Crushing Disappointment by Writing Blog Post“. The Marvel sequel in question sidelined Hogun, played by Japanese actor Tadanobu Asano, almost completely, and as the title of the blog post would suggest I had been very excited to see him again.

I can’t not use this image again, it’s just too perfect. Source: platoapproved.tumblr.com

With Doctor Strange, on the other hand, that anticipation was not present at all. Last June I covered the news that Tilda Swinton was in talks to play the Ancient One, the title character’s mentor, in “Celebrity Blind Spots and Fixing Racist Narratives [By Making Everyone White]“. The gist of that post was how, in an effort to be more “progressive” filmmakers have been choosing to “fix” problematic minority characters by simply casting them with White talent. That’s as opposed to simply amending what made them so racist and stereotypical to begin with.

At that point in 2015 Swinton starring in the film had not yet been confirmed, and absolutely nothing had been mentioned about the character of Wong, Doctor Strange’s manservant in the source material. With Benedict Cumberbatch already locked into the role it was a magical time in which there was still the possibility of Marvel releasing a movie with two prominent Asian characters.

Look, my hopes were never particularly high that Swinton wouldn’t land the part. As soon as it was announced she was in talks for the role support began pouring in. That she was a woman in her 50s in a genre that has helped shine a spotlight on men of all ages and women of a very particular age was laudable to many. The thing is, the optics are so bad.

twowhiteys Continue reading

For Your Consideration: Asian Doctor Strange, Courtesy of Kurt Busiek

Some weeks will prove busier than others, and on those occasions I’m choosing to present all of you with something worth thinking about.

As you may know just last week I covered both sides of the debate over Daniel Rand, AKA Iron Fist, being played by a person of Asian descent. Of particular concern to the writer in the “for” camp was that the narrative within the comics pushes the idea of a White man entering a foreign land, mastering their arts, and ultimately rising up to be one of the greatest among them. It’s a trope that belongs to Sorcerer Supreme Doctor Strange just as much as it does to The Living Weapon himself.

Kurt Busiek is a writer who has been in the industry for decades, with a four year stint on Avengers being his greatest claim to fame. With an extensive biography that spans the Marvel universe he’s widely regarded in comic book circles as a professional who knows what he’s talking about. Roughly a week ago he began sharing over Twitter about how Doctor Strange was very likely intended to be Asian from the very beginning, or at least depicted in such a fashion. I’ve compiled all relevant tweets below, for your consideration [all tweets not by Busiek were retweeted by him]:

Continue reading

Celebrity Blind Spots and Fixing Racist Narratives [By Making Everyone White]

ANCIENTONETILDALast week it was announced that Tilda Swinton was in talks to join Marvel Studios’ Doctor Strange, specifically in the role of the Ancient One. For those of you who don’t read a lot of comic books [and even those who do] the character in question is Doctor Strange’s teacher, a Tibetan mystic named Yao. If it wasn’t plainly apparent to you, Swinton is about as Tibetan as Emma Stone is Chinese or Native Hawaiian. The numerous comic book news outlets that I frequent have covered this in as much depth as they possibly can seeing as nothing is set in stone at this point, but I’ve noticed a trend in responses to the presumed casting choice. That perspective is what I’ll be covering first, following that up with how “progressive” Swinton playing this role would actually be-

“Meryl Streep could play Batman and be the right choice.”

Look, we’ve all seen at least one episode of Modern Family, and most of us can remember Cam reciting those exact words when lauding the actor’s ability to be perfect in any role. Like most effective jokes it’s funny because it’s a slight exaggeration of how people actually think and feel, in this case about their favourite talent.

Gordon lambasted the blog “Your Fave Is Problematic” last year, and for reasons that I generally agree with given their penchant of going overboard when finding areas in which celebrities and media have screwed up. That being said, at bare minimum the title of the site is effective in that it forces us to realize that nobody is above reproach. No one is so incredible that they should be given carte blanche to do [or be] whatever they want, yet that’s the attitude I’ve seen so many people give this news.

opinions

That’s not to say that people aren’t entitled to their own opinions of who can play what character, but that we’ll so quickly make exceptions when they involve people we love to watch perform. After it was announced that Martin Freeman would be appearing in the Marvel Cinematic Universe the number of people who wanted to see Martin Freeman as Wong opposite Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange was staggering. That’s right, Martin Freeman. As a person named “Wong”.

martinwong Continue reading

Christopher Bird: Should Be Writing For Comics

Part of this post hinges on you having read the last one I did, Aaron Diaz: Has a Lot of Opinions About DC. In it I wrote about webcomicker Diaz, his redesigns of DC characters [and his reasons for doing so] in particular. Where that post and this one overlap is that Diaz wrote new origin stories for his reboots, and these have been the subjects of replete praise.

Christopher Bird, creator [and namesake] of the blog Mightygodking, is another man with ideas that involve the intellectual property of others. A man who knows [and loves] comics, he’s written his fair share of posts about them, and demonstrates an impressive knowledge of the work of both Marvel and DC. We would expect someone in his position to have strong opinions about the direction both companies are going with their comics, maybe even implying that either company would do well to hire him to write for one of their properties.

MGK should write Marvel’s Doctor Strange. And he has reasons.

Eight days ago MGK released the 42nd of his “I Should Write Dr. Strange” posts. That’s 42 reasons why Marvel certainly wouldn’t suffer by putting him in charge of writing about the Sorcerer Supreme himself.

The reasons, however, are never directed at his own qualifications. From the very first post, in which he creates a scenario where the colour blue has been magically leached from our existence, he presents stories. There’s little to no explanation whatsoever before he starts it off with the sentence, “One day, you wake up, and blue is gone.” From then on it’s a description of an eerie, uncomfortable scene right up until the last two paragraphs. The last one is but a single sentence, “And that’s why this is a job for Dr. Strange.”

I read through all 42 of his reasons this week, and was thoroughly engrossed and enchanted by every one. As someone who loves comics but isn’t terribly familiar with Dr. Stephen Vincent Strange, I found myself garnering an appreciation for the character and wishing that these stories, all hypothetical, were a reality.

Where MGK really excels in his knowledge of the lore behind it all. Whereas Diaz took and remade characters, creating an entirely new universe for them, MGK makes his narratives fit in Marvel continuity and acknowledges the world he’s writing in even though he has no obligation to do so. When he writes about Dracula he mentions Blade, and when writing about the death of Cytorrak [picture shown above] he makes sure to hint that there’s a chance not all is well with the Juggernaut. He even justifies his entire act of writing these reasons by explaining how it all continues to work even when Doctor Strange was no longer Sorcerer Supreme.

When it comes to writing about comics, especially Marvel and DC, it’s easy to criticize. While Diaz provided an alternative of sorts there’s a sense, in his redesigns, that he rejects a great deal of the characters’ original origins and histories. I enjoyed a few of his takes on a few heroes, but ultimately wasn’t convinced that this was an entire world worth creating.

MGK, Christopher Bird, on the other hand has won me over with his tremendous tales of superheroism and magic. He tips his hat at every turn to the ones who came before him, even though he technically does not come after them. He doesn’t disparage current writers [which isn’t to say that he’s never criticized any aspect of the industry], but instead provides stories, dozens of them, to prove that he knows the character and what he’s doing.

And, if after all of that, he hasn’t proved that he should write Doctor Strange, maybe he can convince you that he should write The Legion.