"We are very proud to have the enormously talented Tilda Swinton portray this unique and complex character," said Marvel in a statement

By Jodi Guglielmi
Updated April 27, 2016 11:05 AM
Matthias Nareyek/Getty

Marvel Studios has responded to the swirling controversy surrounding the casting of Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One in the upcoming Doctor Strange film.

The studio released a statement defending its decision to cast Swinton as the character, who was originally Tibetan in the comic books, saying that it supports diversity and creative freedom within the film industry.

“Marvel has a very strong record of diversity in its casting of films and regularly departs from stereotypes and source material to bring its MCU [Marvel Cinematic Universe] to life,” the statement read. “The Ancient One is a title that is not exclusively held by any one character, but rather a moniker passed down through time, and in this particular film the embodiment is Celtic.”

The statement continued: “We are very proud to have the enormously talented Tilda Swinton portray this unique and complex character alongside our richly diverse cast.”

Fans began to raise concern over the casting of Swinton in a role that is depicted as being Tibetan in the comics. The character is also seen as man in the comics, but the film shows The Ancient One transcending both gender and ethnicity.

Doctor Strange screenwriter C. Robert Cargill also came to Swinton’s defense, saying the original character was a “racist stereotype.”

“The Ancient One was a racist stereotype who comes from a region of the world that is in a very weird political place,” he said during an interview on the show Double Toasted, according to The New York Times. “He originates from Tibet, so if you acknowledge that Tibet is a place and that he’s Tibetan, you risk alienating one billion people.”

Doctor Strange, which stars Benedict Cumberbatch as the titular hero, hits theaters Nov. 4.