Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson has come out addressing concerns of 'whitewashing' amongst the film's casting choices, stating that the casting was "a very conscious decision." Derrickson specifically points to Tilda Swinton's casting as the Ancient One as "adding diversity," but said he added Wong to the cast to counter-balancing "erasing a significant potential Asian role."
“Diversity in movies is absolutely the responsibility of producers and directors,” Derrickson told the Los Angeles Daily News. “In this movie, we have about as diverse a cast as I think you can get, and that was a very conscious decision. Tilda was a way of adding diversity in terms of not just an ethereal, enigmatic, otherworldly actress playing an ethereal, enigmatic, otherworldly character, but we’re bringing a middle-aged woman who’s not 28 years old in leather pants into the Marvel Universe in a major role."
While he was happy to have Swinton as the Ancient One, Derrickson said he was "very conscious" that his casting decision would "erase" a major Asian role - leading him to reconsider the previous decision not to include Wong in the film.
“I was very happy with that [Swinton's casting], but I was also very conscious that in doing that I was erasing a significant potential Asian role. I was going to leave Wong out of the movie at first; he was an Asian sidekick manservant, what was I supposed to do with that?," said the director. "ut once the decision was made to cast Tilda, we brought Wong back because, unlike the Ancient One, he could be completely subverted as a character and reworked into something that didn’t fall into any of the stereotypes of the comics.”
Doctor Strange opens in North American theaters on November 4.