Tilda Swinton is the Ancient One for Marvel’s Doctor Strange

By  · Published on May 27th, 2015

Sony Pictures Classics

So much for the rumored shortlist of actors up for the role of the Ancient One in Marvel’s Doctor Strange. The group of actors seemed diverse enough, reportedly including Morgan Freeman, Ken Watanabe and Bill Nighy – and later Chiwetel Ejiofor was possibly in the mix. But none of those possibilities were women. Alas, it turns out it was a woman’s job for the taking, and that woman is the best woman of all, Tilda Swinton.

The Hollywood Reporter’s Heat Vision blog shares the scoop that Swinton is in talks for the role, which would see her mentoring the title character. Benedict Cumberbatch has already been cast as Dr. Stephen Strange, a surgeon who takes over the gig of “Sorcerer Supreme” from the Ancient One and later joins The Avengers. Ejiofor is possibly still on board, but we still don’t know who he’s playing. Daniel Bruhl is also rumored to be in the movie as Baron Zemo following his debut as that villain in Captain America: Civil War.

Will Swinton play a Tibetan? Will she even play a woman? According to Heat Vision, the role has been rethought as female, though we all know the Oscar-winning actress is capable of playing another gender, or both genders or no gender. For instance, n another comic book movie she did, Constantine, she portrayed the androgynous angel Gabriel. She probably shouldn’t play another race, though, so let’s hope Marvel has rethought the character’s origins.

It’s likely that this will be Swinton’s single appearance in the MCU, though she could be involved in the form of apparitions or even just spiritual vocal guidance in other movies. I don’t know how they’ll handle the character here, but let’s not forget that Marvel has promised no more origin story movies, so even here it’s unlikely that she’ll just be a first act character who winds up passing her torch to Cumberbatch’s psychedelic superhero.

Doctor Strange will be directed by Scott Derrickson and arrives in theaters on November 4, 2016.

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Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.