Mister Doctor [Strange]

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Re: Mister Doctor [Strange]

Postby Zohar » Mon Dec 05, 2016 5:21 pm UTC

maybeagnostic wrote:Since he was, however, the latter some change was required and I like the direction they went because Tilda Swinton did a really good job IMO. Just casting any actor of SE Asian heritage wouldn't be an automatic improvement for the quality of the film even if we ignore the major issue of treating a whole bunch of distinct millenia-old cultures as interchangeable.

But essentially what they did was replace Tibetan culture with white American culture. At the end of the day, there's one less Asian character, of which there aren't many in the first place. So, yeah, problematic, and worth mentioning, despite her being a great choice.

maybeagnostic wrote:The movie made 66% of its money abroad with its income in Asia rivaling its income in the US and it hasn't even been released in Japan yet. I think this is pretty standard for Marvel movies and many blockbusters in general- they aren't being made primarily for the US any more.
And yet they're made in the US, in English, generally set in the US, starring American actors. So I think it's fair to say they're supposed to represent US culture, but don't represent US population (because it's mostly, as mentioned, white het men etc.).
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Re: Mister Doctor [Strange]

Postby Angua » Mon Dec 05, 2016 5:33 pm UTC

I mean, technically they replaced it with Celtic druidism.

White yes, American? Not sure about that. Druidism didn't really make it across to the US as far as I'm aware. I'd buy it if she'd been part of the Salem witch trials, then sure.

I mean, I still agree with there being whitewashing involved which isn't great and could have been done better. They could have gone for any culture with any race, though Chinese would have been the worst option given the political situation. If they went with druidism, why not shamanism? Hinduism? There are/were mystics in every culture, wouldn't have been hard.
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Re: Mister Doctor [Strange]

Postby maybeagnostic » Mon Dec 05, 2016 5:35 pm UTC

Zohar wrote:But essentially what they did was replace Tibetan culture with white American culture. At the end of the day, there's one less Asian character, of which there aren't many in the first place. So, yeah, problematic, and worth mentioning, despite her being a great choice.
The bit that really bugs me is that there never was any actual Tibetan culture in the comics so it couldn't have been replaced. And if you really care about this Tibetan culture that was never really part of it, why are you ok with any "Asian" actor playing the role?

Zohar wrote:And yet they're made in the US, in English, generally set in the US, starring American actors. So I think it's fair to say they're supposed to represent US culture, but don't represent US population (because it's mostly, as mentioned, white het men etc.).
Actually the movie was filmed at a number of locations mostly outside the US, none of the main cast are American, most of the screen time is not spent in the US and Kamar-Taj is supposed to be full of people from all over the world with Strange being the only person there from the US that we know of.
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Re: Mister Doctor [Strange]

Postby KnightExemplar » Mon Dec 05, 2016 5:47 pm UTC

Zohar wrote:
maybeagnostic wrote:Since he was, however, the latter some change was required and I like the direction they went because Tilda Swinton did a really good job IMO. Just casting any actor of SE Asian heritage wouldn't be an automatic improvement for the quality of the film even if we ignore the major issue of treating a whole bunch of distinct millenia-old cultures as interchangeable.

But essentially what they did was replace Tibetan culture with white American culture. At the end of the day, there's one less Asian character, of which there aren't many in the first place. So, yeah, problematic, and worth mentioning, despite her being a great choice.


I think the harmful stereotypes associated with the stereotyped Asian roles are more hurtful than losing one role. There are a few hurtful stereotypes when it comes to portrayals of Asians in movies:

1. Fu Manchu Sorcerer (aka: the "original" Ancient one) -- I'm happy they did what they could to avoid that. Crossing the genders helped a big deal in this respects.

2. "Dragon Lady" -- the scheming Asian woman who says one thing and does another. Oh crap, that's literally the role of the character in this film.

3. "Hot young Asian assassin" -- Go too young with an Asian actress, and you risk this shallow character concept instead.

Whitewashing the role so that the hurtful Asian stereotype was avoided is a cheap copout, but I think its better than risking the scheming, distrustful Asian lady leading a self-centered hypocritical role. They would have had to basically rewrite the movie to avoid issue #2, so they took a shortcut and just cast a white-person to prevent the Asian community from getting another stereotype.

---------

I mean, all of these comicbook stories were written in the 1960s. The stereotypes and racism from that era creeps into the stories, so I can see why they had issues trying to navigate the minefield. They were also juggling the Tibet thing... so yeah, lots of issues here.
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Re: Mister Doctor [Strange]

Postby Zohar » Mon Dec 05, 2016 6:29 pm UTC

KnightExemplar wrote:I think the harmful stereotypes associated with the stereotyped Asian roles are more hurtful than losing one role.

I understand why they made their choice. I just disagree with it.

maybeagnostic wrote:The bit that really bugs me is that there never was any actual Tibetan culture in the comics so it couldn't have been replaced. And if you really care about this Tibetan culture that was never really part of it, why are you ok with any "Asian" actor playing the role?
Like I said, I don't mind them replacing a Romanian character with a black character. I mind it when diversity is reduced, and this casting choice did that.

maybeagnostic wrote:
Zohar wrote:And yet they're made in the US, in English, generally set in the US, starring American actors. So I think it's fair to say they're supposed to represent US culture, but don't represent US population (because it's mostly, as mentioned, white het men etc.).
Actually the movie was filmed at a number of locations mostly outside the US, none of the main cast are American, most of the screen time is not spent in the US and Kamar-Taj is supposed to be full of people from all over the world with Strange being the only person there from the US that we know of.

I think you're choosing to see things in a very specific way, but I don't think it's very relevant to the discussion. If anything, the fact that we're supposed to compare the population of the real world to which actors are shown in Marvel (or any) films just accentuates the difference I'm talking about.
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Re: Mister Doctor [Strange]

Postby KnightExemplar » Mon Dec 05, 2016 6:40 pm UTC

Zohar wrote:
maybeagnostic wrote:
Zohar wrote:And yet they're made in the US, in English, generally set in the US, starring American actors. So I think it's fair to say they're supposed to represent US culture, but don't represent US population (because it's mostly, as mentioned, white het men etc.).
Actually the movie was filmed at a number of locations mostly outside the US, none of the main cast are American, most of the screen time is not spent in the US and Kamar-Taj is supposed to be full of people from all over the world with Strange being the only person there from the US that we know of.

I think you're choosing to see things in a very specific way, but I don't think it's very relevant to the discussion. If anything, the fact that we're supposed to compare the population of the real world to which actors are shown in Marvel (or any) films just accentuates the difference I'm talking about.


Honestly, black males (although mostly typecast as minor characters aside from Nick Fury) have more important roles than females in general in the MCU. We've got Black Widow and...maybe Pepper Potts from Iron Man? ("Extremis" operation went), Valkyrie from Thor, and Gamora from Guardians. All of the other female roles are just the girlfriends who hang back or otherwise serve as romantic interests. Wasp has a shot depending on how future Ant-Man movies go.

If anything, the "Ancient One" getting cast as a female fixes that issue somewhat.

---------

The main problem is that Disney is afraid to deviate from the formula that has been established by Iron Man. You have the main superhero, his girlfriend, the African American for diversity, and then the frienemy for the villain. Minor details may change from movie to movie (ie: Hispanic friend in Ant-Man instead of African American), but otherwise that's the formula.
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Re: Mister Doctor [Strange]

Postby Zohar » Mon Dec 05, 2016 6:47 pm UTC

KnightExemplar wrote:If anything, the "Ancient One" getting cast as a female fixes that issue somewhat.

Sure, but they could have gone with a woman of color, for instance. They make more than enough movies to be able to show a lot more diverse faces than what they currently do, with regards to racial diversity and gender representation (and those are, of course, not the only two minority definitions in existence).
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Re: Mister Doctor [Strange]

Postby The Great Hippo » Tue Dec 06, 2016 2:20 am UTC

maybeagnostic wrote:I think it is a pretty tired trope which is why I am happy they specifically avoided doing than by establishing sorcerers come from all over the world and from all walks of life.
But they surrounded those sorcerers with the props, trappings, and settings of Eastern cultures -- without giving anyone from the East a significantly powerful role (Wong was closest, and he was a librarian).

This is like doing Avatar: The Last Air-bender, except cast with all non-Asian people. If you're gonna steal the material, you might as well show the source for that material a little more respect?
maybeagnostic wrote:This one confuses me a little. Mordo was an equal of Strange, Kaecilius was white and Dormammu was some extraplanar creature. Which white people outdid non-white people and what "non-white things" did they outdo them at?
See above; while magic itself appeared (to my uninformed eyes) to be generalized enough to make it non-cultural, all the trappings around magic were distinctly Eastern; yet the white Westerner -- with zero experience in Eastern-stuff -- came in and mastered it all. I think it would have worked better to portray Strange as an Easterner who had come to the West to study medicine, lost his roots, then returned to them at a point in crisis.

"White man from the West comes to the East, harnesses Eastern knowledge and gains vast power in the process." This is a really, really old story in the West; it has deep roots in Western colonialism.

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Re: Mister Doctor [Strange]

Postby Liri » Tue Dec 06, 2016 3:46 am UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:
maybeagnostic wrote:I think it is a pretty tired trope which is why I am happy they specifically avoided doing than by establishing sorcerers come from all over the world and from all walks of life.
But they surrounded those sorcerers with the props, trappings, and settings of Eastern cultures -- without giving anyone from the East a significantly powerful role (Wong was closest, and he was a librarian).

That's very true.

I'm glad I could spark a healthy discussion.

It's similar to Batman Begins. Aaaannd now that I think more about it, VERY similar. Rich white guy messes himself up, heads to the Himalayas, walks into the temple and assumes Fu Manchu is the head honcho, white actual head honcho appears. Training commences. Head honcho turns out to be a mixed bag.

The first three things are common to plenty of Hollywood's Greatest.



I think in general, when you look on a movie-by-movie basis, it's easy to try to find excuses for why We Had To Have This One Great (White) Actor. And maybe some directors did have honest intentions or did feel quite conflicted, but it takes assertive action to work against the century-long history of not giving actors of non-white backgrounds the screen time - and roles - they merit.

So, pretty much what Zohar said way back.
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Re: Mister Doctor [Strange]

Postby The Great Hippo » Tue Dec 06, 2016 4:04 am UTC

Batman is a classic example of the white Westerner who travels to the East and masters Eastern disciplines better than actual Easterners who grew up amidst it. They are the chosen one; the eternal hero who masters the foreign world, then brings this power back to their home world. Batman goes to the East, masters martial arts, brings it back to Gotham. Strange goes to the East, masters magic, brings it back to New York. The reverse of this trope (the Easterner who comes to the West to master Western disciplines) is typically a villain using this knowledge to threaten the world (Fu Manchu, Ras Al Ghul).

The Shadow is another example; Doc Savage is another. Iron Fist is a super blatant example.

EDIT: Keep in mind, I am an unrepentant comic book nerd and I love all of these characters. But I think it's important to acknowledge what subtext they carry; in a lot of ways, these are expressions of Western colonialism and imperialism -- treating foreign culture as a resource to be harvested and exploited for the enrichment of the West.

Though, to be fair to *this* movie, maybe the Eastern trappings aren't as deep as I think?

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Re: Mister Doctor [Strange]

Postby Tyndmyr » Tue Dec 06, 2016 6:56 pm UTC

Zohar wrote:
KnightExemplar wrote:If anything, the "Ancient One" getting cast as a female fixes that issue somewhat.

Sure, but they could have gone with a woman of color, for instance. They make more than enough movies to be able to show a lot more diverse faces than what they currently do, with regards to racial diversity and gender representation (and those are, of course, not the only two minority definitions in existence).


Eh. They're doing alright, considering the source material they have to work with. A lot of old comics are pretty cringeworthy. They're doing a decent job of removing a lot of that, while still keeping the essential spirit of the older works. I think her casting was an excellent choice. The goal isn't "maximum diversity" or whatever, it's portraying her as somewhat of an outsider/other in a certain way to cast just enough doubt on her motives from everyone's perspective. So, Strange dismisses her because of the eastern trappings, and yet she doesn't quite appear to be too similar to Mordo, etc. The movie did a great job of visually supporting it's plot.

The Great Hippo wrote:See above; while magic itself appeared (to my uninformed eyes) to be generalized enough to make it non-cultural, all the trappings around magic were distinctly Eastern; yet the white Westerner -- with zero experience in Eastern-stuff -- came in and mastered it all. I think it would have worked better to portray Strange as an Easterner who had come to the West to study medicine, lost his roots, then returned to them at a point in crisis.

"White man from the West comes to the East, harnesses Eastern knowledge and gains vast power in the process." This is a really, really old story in the West; it has deep roots in Western colonialism.


Dr. Strange is already established in the MCU to live in the US, and pretty much all established stuff places him as yes, the white westerner. That's not a new failing of the movie, that's the original source.

I think that having the teacher not be Asian actually subverts that to some degree. It's treated as something underlying cultures 'round the world, not that specific culture. This makes a good deal more sense in any case, and ironically, he didn't *have* to go specifically to India to find it...there are three bases. But, when it came to mystical stuff, that's what the IC expectations were. I think that rings true.

I do note that Civil War works pretty well if you consider Black Panther to be the actual hero. He's got a frigging great arc throughout.

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Re: Mister Doctor [Strange]

Postby KnightExemplar » Tue Dec 06, 2016 6:57 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:Batman is a classic example of the white Westerner who travels to the East and masters Eastern disciplines better than actual Easterners who grew up amidst it.


I think the opposite is true in Anime however. In the Type-Moon universe (Fate/Stay, Tsukihime, and Kara no Kyokai), I'd argue that the Aozaki family (蒼崎) is Japanese (it looks like they have Kanji for their name). Most of the other families are obviously German (Einzbern Family / アインツベルン), or British (ie: Archibald family アーチボルト). Japanese makes it obvious when a family is "European", because the characters would be spelled with Katakana (aka: the language of spelling foreign stuff). In contrast, a respected Japanese family would be spelled with Kanji.

Anyway, Touko Aozaki studies at the Clock Tower (aka: Hogwarts in this universe, except its a secret mage college in the heart of London), and otherwise masters the Magic of Westerners. She serves as one of the most powerful mages in the world.

Rin Tohsaka also has Kanji in her name, implying that she's Japanese. As a major character of Fate/Stay, she's a well-trained Magus who is currently enrolled in the Clock Tower and bests Medea (yeah, the Greek Witch, granddaughter to a Greek God) in single mage combat. If that's not saying "Japanese who learned Western Magic owns people", I dunno what example you're looking for. In fact, Rin casts all of her spells in German, even in the Japanese Dub. Its very clear she's using "Western Magic".

Spoiler:
To be fair: Rin beats Medea by running up to her and punching her in the gut. Basically saying: your old ancient & forgotten Magic maybe powerful, but modern magic studies include close-quarters combat training... and Medea sucks at that.


The general trope is "Goes away to far away place, to learn stuff that they know". Its the "outsider trope", which unites say... Japanese Samurai Films and American Cowboy films.

Since most people who watch anime are Japanese, the "outside world" is Europe. That's where people go to pick up mystical or otherworldly knowledge. Then they come back to Japan as masters to connect with the target audience. When the villains come from Europe, they are defeated by the heroes. Not because Japanese > Europeans... but because the Hero (who happens to be Japanese) always beats the villain.

-------------

Or for a more classical take... "Journey to the West", where the Chinese monk travels to India to seek Nirvana. But it turns out that the Chinese Monk already mastered Nirvana through the journey itself and not from India itself. (I guess back then... walking from China to India was a major journey)

---------------

EDIT: Speaking of Anime: I'm very happy that "Drawing Fiery Symbols in the Air" has finally made it to Hollywood. Its been a mainstay in anime for several years (Full Metal Alchemist's transmutation circles or the fiery symbols when Magic Circuits are activated in the Fate/Stay series). Harry Potter / Lord of the Rings stuck with more typical representations of Magical Power (ie: blinding amounts of light, large booming voices and the like), but the physical manifestation of arcane symbols is a great way to represent the physical casting of magic.
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Re: Mister Doctor [Strange]

Postby Jorpho » Tue Dec 06, 2016 9:28 pm UTC

Did you catch that the end credits music was literally called "The Master of the Mystic End Credits" ?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q4uoNAFfvKg

I was reminded of Monty on the Run for some reason.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xEE8203hmBQ

maybeagnostic wrote:
Jorpho wrote:Am I the only one who didn't quite get how the "mirror universe" was supposed to work?
Seemed pretty straightforward to me. It was just asymmetrical- what happens in the "real world" affects the mirror universe but not vice versa so they can wreck the "mirror universe' all they want without fear of consequences. I think the only other place I've encountered the same idea is in DnD with the material and astral planes (although astral projection may have been something different in this movie).
Aye, but there was some quickly-glossed over thing about how it was remarkable that the bad guys were able to manipulate matter outside of the mirror universe, and something else about how it was bad to be stuck there without one's sling ring, even if one didn't need a sling ring to get there to begin with. Or something.

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Re: Mister Doctor [Strange]

Postby maybeagnostic » Tue Dec 06, 2016 10:17 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:"White man from the West comes to the East, harnesses Eastern knowledge and gains vast power in the process." This is a really, really old story in the West; it has deep roots in Western colonialism...

The Shadow is another example; Doc Savage is another. Iron Fist is a super blatant example.
It is an old theme and there are plenty of examples where it is problematic and colonialist and so on but it isn't a theme unique to Western culture, we just know the most examples from there because that is the culture we are immersed in. This basically describes the fundamental idea of The Hero With A Thousand Faces- normal person (i.e. someone from my cultures) goes on a journey to mysterious faraway lands, faces adversity, learns lessons, wins a great victory and returns to their homeland with his newly mastered foreign powers and/or knowledge. As was already mentioned a few times, Doctor Strange specifically avoided having Strange learn Tibetan (or "generic Asian") magic- Kamar Taj was multiethnical, spread worldwide and inclusive, and he didn't even get better than the other masters just used a specific magical gadget in a clever way.

I'll top this off by pointing out that none of the existing Avengers have stories even remotely related to this trope.

The Great Hippo wrote:
maybeagnostic wrote:I think it is a pretty tired trope which is why I am happy they specifically avoided doing than by establishing sorcerers come from all over the world and from all walks of life.
But they surrounded those sorcerers with the props, trappings, and settings of Eastern cultures -- without giving anyone from the East a significantly powerful role (Wong was closest, and he was a librarian).

I don't even know what you are calling the "Eastern trappings"? Look at these characters- they are all unique outfits designed for the characters, not some already existing look like Tibetan monk. Wong's outfit looks "Asian" to me but I am not sure why, I have no idea what Mordo's and The Ancient One's outfits are inspired by and Strange's outfit is more European Middle Ages than anything else. The way magic was represented was supposedly taken directly from the comics and more 70s LSD trip than anything related to Buddhism although I suppose the symbols they drew in the air might have had a passing resemblance to mandalas (though no less than they do to cabalism and alchemical symbology). What I am getting at is that everything in the movie suggested and reinforced the idea that the magical tradition is shared among all of humanity so this idea that it was Eastern is a preconceived notion of yours.
Jorpho wrote:Aye, but there was some quickly-glossed over thing about how it was remarkable that the bad guys were able to manipulate matter outside of the mirror universe, and something else about how it was bad to be stuck there without one's sling ring, even if one didn't need a sling ring to get there to begin with. Or something.
Ah, I guess I missed some of that. I thought everyone needed the sling rings to move between the regular world and the mirror dimension except The Ancient One who could put people there without them even realizing it.
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Re: Mister Doctor [Strange]

Postby The Great Hippo » Tue Dec 06, 2016 10:38 pm UTC

maybeagnostic wrote:It is an old theme and there are plenty of examples where it is problematic and colonialist and so on but it isn't a theme unique to Western culture, we just know the most examples from there because that is the culture we are immersed in. This basically describes the fundamental idea of The Hero With A Thousand Faces- normal person (i.e. someone from my cultures) goes on a journey to mysterious faraway lands, faces adversity, learns lessons, wins a great victory and returns to their homeland with his newly mastered foreign powers and/or knowledge. As was already mentioned a few times, Doctor Strange specifically avoided having Strange learn Tibetan (or "generic Asian") magic- Kamar Taj was multiethnical, spread worldwide and inclusive, and he didn't even get better than the other masters just used a specific magical gadget in a clever way.

I'll top this off by pointing out that none of the existing Avengers have stories even remotely related to this trope.
Okay...? Did you... Think I was saying otherwise? o.O

Anyway, you're wrong about Strange not being portrayed as better than magic than the others; it's commented on regularly that he's mastering magic at an astounding rate -- by Wong, Mordo, and the Ancient One.
maybeagnostic wrote:What I am getting at is that everything in the movie suggested and reinforced the idea that the magical tradition is shared among all of humanity so this idea that it was Eastern is a preconceived notion of yours.
One of the first things the Ancient One shows Strange is a famous Buddhist acupuncture text; the setting he learns in is clearly set in the East (a Shangri la parallel)...

Like, okay, as I said, maybe I'm not being fair to the movie; maybe the trappings don't run as deep here as I think (did you see the post where I said that? >_>). But it's not like I'm pulling this out of my butt?

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Re: Mister Doctor [Strange]

Postby rmsgrey » Tue Dec 06, 2016 10:55 pm UTC

There's an outsider pattern in real life - someone from a foreign culture (or sub-culture) comes along and studies the secrets of a stable/mature (sub-)culture and, because they don't carry the same unquestioned assumptions, they ask "obvious" questions that turn out to have deep and illuminating answers (as well as a ton of dumb questions that only a dumb outside would ever bother asking) and end up with a better understanding than the locals.

Of course, for the host culture, the fact the outsider has a different set of taboos means they will cheerfully do diabolical things and seem shockingly cynical about proper behaviour, making for an easy villain (while their knowledge of two cultures' skills makes them formidable) - much the same traits as makes the outsider a heroic figure to his home culture - cutting through the unusual quirks of the alien culture while combining native and foreign skills to outperform the natives, but, because his values align with ours, we applaud his casual villainies...

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Re: Mister Doctor [Strange]

Postby The Great Hippo » Wed Dec 07, 2016 12:00 am UTC

rmsgrey wrote:There's an outsider pattern in real life - someone from a foreign culture (or sub-culture) comes along and studies the secrets of a stable/mature (sub-)culture and, because they don't carry the same unquestioned assumptions, they ask "obvious" questions that turn out to have deep and illuminating answers (as well as a ton of dumb questions that only a dumb outside would ever bother asking) and end up with a better understanding than the locals.
Right, and it's not like this pattern isn't something we see in a lot of interesting places -- some of the (arguably) best English writers learned English as a second language; some of the best histories are written by people who lived outside of them -- etc. A certain amount of distance does seem to sometimes help with skill-building.

But this tendency is certainly not nearly as absurdly prevalent (and absurdly beneficial) as its portrayal in our fiction.

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Re: Mister Doctor [Strange]

Postby KnightExemplar » Wed Dec 07, 2016 4:35 am UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:But this tendency is certainly not nearly as absurdly prevalent (and absurdly beneficial) as its portrayal in our fiction.


Marvel's superheroes are generally superhumanly smart.

Dr. Strange, Ant-man (well, the comic version anyway), Ironman, Spiderman, Mr. Fantastic, Hulk / Bruce Banner, Professor Xavier...

Its kinda Marvel's thing. They're all nerds and/or geeks who learn a lot faster than their peers. As for why they're all white, cisgender males... that's because these characters were invented in the 1970s or earlier. Marvel is trying to correct that with their all-new Avengers stuff, although it really seems like a ham-fisted attempt.

Luke Cage, Storm, Black Panther, and Falcon are early attempts at including African Americans in major roles. But other cultures have historically been ignored and/or were stereotyped hurtfully in the source material (ex: Wong in the source Dr. Strange comics)
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Re: Mister Doctor [Strange]

Postby The Great Hippo » Wed Dec 07, 2016 7:35 am UTC

Right, but there's no reason to keep true to the source material regarding matters of race, particularly in this case. I'm saying Doctor Strange could have benefited by deviating from that.

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Re: Mister Doctor [Strange]

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Dec 07, 2016 4:33 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:Right, but there's no reason to keep true to the source material regarding matters of race, particularly in this case. I'm saying Doctor Strange could have benefited by deviating from that.


Generally speaking, I think swapping over a bunch of major characters to different genders/colors/whatever is immersion breaking. I'd generally rather that minority characters be developed genuinely in their own right, rather than just swapping out whoever's playing this char.

Look at say, Luke Cage. You don't get that story by casting a black guy to play Cap. That's merely tokenism, not representation.

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Re: Mister Doctor [Strange]

Postby Zohar » Wed Dec 07, 2016 5:20 pm UTC

Actually there are a few stories that worked fantastically well with just that idea in mind. The first that comes to mind is Alien, where all the characters were written as "generically male" with a specific instruction that the actual casting should involve people of all genders. So Ripley's character was written with a man in mind, and choosing a woman to play her actually gave the film an added depth. I believe the same happened in Salt as well.

Of course this strategy doesn't always work. In fact it works in these cases specifically because the original writing takes white men in mind. Imagine Luke Cage with an Asian actor, or a white actor!

I'm pretty sure what Hippo talked about in this case is not just a blind "find-replace" process, but adapting the script accordingly. Not to fit stereotypes of your casting choices, but to fit the cultural circumstances influenced by the character's race and ethnicity.
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Re: Mister Doctor [Strange]

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Dec 07, 2016 5:27 pm UTC

Alien was indeed fantastic. Salt was...okay. That said, I think there's a difference between recasting a character the audiences have never seen before, and rewriting one that they're familiar with. There are definitely roles you can cast via coin flip or what have you, and it's probably a good way of getting people out of steriotypes.

That said, this is the tale of a guy who lives in the US, has basically everything, and is arrogant as hell. These are all pretty intrinsic to the tale of Strange, and, honestly, his casting is pretty much perfect for conveying that. That's sort of right up Cumberbach's alley.

You could, I suppose, change literally everything about the story, but at some point, you're writing a new tale that merely happens to involve the same names. World War Z, for instance. At some point it becomes merely using the name for publicity, and even if the final tale is still serviceable, it's going to disappoint a great many fans who felt they were lied to.

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Re: Mister Doctor [Strange]

Postby The Great Hippo » Wed Dec 07, 2016 5:54 pm UTC

Zohar wrote:I'm pretty sure what Hippo talked about in this case is not just a blind "find-replace" process, but adapting the script accordingly. Not to fit stereotypes of your casting choices, but to fit the cultural circumstances influenced by the character's race and ethnicity.
Right, what I'm talking about is a story where the ethnicity of the character is actually relevant to the plot; a character with a cultural link to a tradition of mysticism who abandoned it to study Western medicine, then, at a point of crisis, returns to it and (re)discovers a world he previously left behind.

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Re: Mister Doctor [Strange]

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Dec 07, 2016 6:03 pm UTC

That isn't the story of Doctor Strange, though.

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Re: Mister Doctor [Strange]

Postby KnightExemplar » Wed Dec 07, 2016 6:24 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:That isn't the story of Doctor Strange, though.


Indeed.

Perhaps people are uncomfortable with the historical Chinese Stage Magicians who achieved fame in Western culture... but these were real people and their magic tricks bedazzled Americans in the first half of the 1900s. Dr. Strange "learning" from Eastern Magicians is in fact a cultural note.

It just happens to be an American Culture. One that mixes with Chinese immigrants and performers, but an American one nonetheless.

There is certainly "Yellow-face" through the history of Magical Acts, but its due to the success of Ching Ling Foo. Only a ridiculously successful man could spawn so many copycats. As they say: imitation is the deepest form of flattery. In any case, its a very common theme for American Magicians to claim that their magic originated from China. (I learned this from a Chinese man... or whatnot).

There are plenty of fake-Chinese cultural references due to this era of magic.
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Re: Mister Doctor [Strange]

Postby Zohar » Wed Dec 07, 2016 6:29 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Alien was indeed fantastic. Salt was...okay. That said, I think there's a difference between recasting a character the audiences have never seen before, and rewriting one that they're familiar with. There are definitely roles you can cast via coin flip or what have you, and it's probably a good way of getting people out of steriotypes.


Oh I mentioned Salt just because I remember it being written with Tom Cruz in mind, not because it was particularly good :)

I wonder how many people actually knew Doctor Strange before the movie. He's not the biggest name in comic books, and the vast majority of people who went to see the movie probably don't read comics. I'm not saying it's a reason to change the story necessarily, but I would imagine most people wouldn't care too much about having a too faithful recreation of the world. I think most of them went see it because of the Marvel logo and because it looked cool. The same is probably true for Ant Man.

Edit: Out of curiosity I looked at Google Trends to check how popular Strange, Ant Man, Cap, and Iron Man were before the first Iron Man came out. It seems Strange was actually more popular than Ant Man, but still a lot less than the other two. Incidentally, Batman and Superman crush all of them during that time period, and Spiderman destroys them as well. Of course, they had movies come out around that time too, but if you increase the scale to until present time, those are definitely still much bigger heroes than Iron Man and Cap.
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Re: Mister Doctor [Strange]

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Dec 07, 2016 6:40 pm UTC

Not sure how many people read comics, but Dr Strange is pretty long-running, and endlessly crosses over with other comics. I would expect that he's fairly recognizable, but that very few people would have lots of knowledge of him beyond his origin story. There's a lot of room for latitude once you get past that. Reference a few notable artifacts, sure, but beyond that, whatever.

Ant-man's probably significantly more obscure. If you were into the older Avengers...sure. But he's not often referenced outside of the team, whereas Dr. Strange is basically Marvel's go-to person for a crossover whenever magic is involved. For perspective, he's in about 30% more comic books than Magneto or Black Widow.

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Re: Mister Doctor [Strange]

Postby The Great Hippo » Wed Dec 07, 2016 6:42 pm UTC

KnightExemplar wrote:Dr. Strange "learning" from Eastern Magicians is in fact a cultural note.
Maybe, but that doesn't mean Strange can't be from the same culture he's learning from -- just someone who was removed from that culture during childhood. Strange himself never had a defined ethnicity; I suspect giving him one would enrich the story rather than fundamentally alter it.

Luke Skywalker's story isn't just about discovering a new world of adventure; it's about reclaiming his birthright -- access to this world in the first place (a birthright that was denied him and his sister for their own safety). Something like that has a powerful resonance, I think. Making Strange have a connection to this world that was severed somehow explains his miraculous skill in terms that make sense; it makes his arc about reclaiming a world taken from him (either by his own choice or someone else's) -- it smoothly ties together his desire to return to the old world (heal his hands and practice medicine) with his desire to stay in this new one (take up a greater role as a spiritual healer *and* reclaim a connection with his cultural legacy).

I actually thought something in a Hindu tradition would work best, cuz there's all sorts of interesting stuff to play with there, and because I don't think Hinduism is something that gets a lot of representation anyway?
Zohar wrote:I wonder how many people actually knew Doctor Strange before the movie.
I was always a big Strange fan, mostly for its potential; you can tell all sorts of fun stories. Like one where someone steals the color blue!

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Re: Mister Doctor [Strange]

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Dec 07, 2016 6:49 pm UTC

Zohar wrote:Edit: Out of curiosity I looked at Google Trends to check how popular Strange, Ant Man, Cap, and Iron Man were before the first Iron Man came out. It seems Strange was actually more popular than Ant Man, but still a lot less than the other two. Incidentally, Batman and Superman crush all of them during that time period, and Spiderman destroys them as well. Of course, they had movies come out around that time too, but if you increase the scale to until present time, those are definitely still much bigger heroes than Iron Man and Cap.


Ah, yeah, replied pre-edit.

Supes, Batman, spiderman are basically A-list. I could argue for Cap and Wolverine as well. All appear absolutely constantly, and anybody alive in the US can probably sketch out the basics of their origin story simply because they're culturally so pervasive.

If you take out spiderman, x-men, and fantastic 4 though...the MCU has been definitely focused on the people that are biggest after that.

Okay, maybe Namor should be in there too, but he's honestly thematically a discount Aquaman. Probably best to not. I'm getting sidetracked, though...if we're after diversity or what not, the Black Panther movie I expect to be pretty good...and I see no particular reason why we can't have Wasp and Black Widow as stand alone films, or as strong pairings if we're doing crossover films.

The movies haven't really invented a lot of wholly new characters, but the pool of minor characters to draw from is quite deep.

The Great Hippo wrote:Luke Skywalker's story isn't just about discovering a new world of adventure; it's about reclaiming his birthright -- access to this world in the first place (a birthright that was denied him and his sister for their own safety). Something like that has a powerful resonance, I think. Making Strange have a connection to this world that was severed somehow explains his miraculous skill in terms that make sense; it makes his arc about reclaiming a world taken from him (either by his own choice or someone else's) -- it smoothly ties together his desire to return to the old world (heal his hands and practice medicine) with his desire to stay in this new one (take up a greater role as a spiritual healer *and* reclaim a connection with his cultural legacy).


It's not really a birthright tale, though. Nor is it about reclaiming that taken from him. In fact, specifically with regards to being a surgeon, it's about accepting loss. This is one of those common threads that suffuse the retellings of his origin story, getting rid of this would be like not killing Uncle Ben.

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Re: Mister Doctor [Strange]

Postby Zohar » Wed Dec 07, 2016 7:03 pm UTC

I would very much like to see a survey asking people what they know of various Marvel characters before they go see the movies. I wouldn't be surprised if Marvel actually did something like that - asked people who don't read comics but are in the general target demographic for the film to describe a character, and then make sure the writer is aware of that when making the movie.
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Re: Mister Doctor [Strange]

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Dec 07, 2016 7:09 pm UTC

I wouldn't be surprised if they do. Granted, the comics industry is also smaller, and they've been in it a long time, so I'm sure they have a good deal of data already. So far, I've been generally quite happy about what they've kept, and what they've decided to change. They seem to have a good nose for the essential heart of a character.

The hardest of these was probably Cap. How you grab 40s sensibilities in the modern age as a way to make him heroic...they did it well, and it could easily have come off as cheesy.

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Re: Mister Doctor [Strange]

Postby Liri » Thu Dec 08, 2016 1:41 am UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:The hardest of these was probably Cap. How you grab 40s sensibilities in the modern age as a way to make him heroic...they did it well, and it could easily have come off as cheesy.

I intensely dislike him, I have to say. Maybe that's vaguely intentional, I dunno. If one swapped him out with some kickass sexy female patriot I'm sure I'd be all over her though. OR maybe she'd remind me too much of Ann Coulter/Ayn Rand.


I'd heard/seen the same "Doctor Strange" in passing over the years, but I knew nothing about him (except maybe the cape). I'm definitely in that "young adult with little comic book knowledge" demographic. They could honestly do whatever and I wouldn't really notice.
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Re: Mister Doctor [Strange]

Postby maybeagnostic » Fri Dec 09, 2016 7:19 am UTC

Liri wrote:They could honestly do whatever and I wouldn't really notice.
I wonder how true that is. Even among people who've read Dr Strange comics, surely plenty haven't read anything involving The Ancient One yet here we are having a huge discussion about that change when (almost?) none of us have read any of his comics.
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Re: Mister Doctor [Strange]

Postby Zohar » Fri Dec 09, 2016 4:08 pm UTC

But that's because they chose a controversial change, from a person of color to a white person.
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Re: Mister Doctor [Strange]

Postby Liri » Fri Dec 09, 2016 6:30 pm UTC

Yeah, the point is that you can probably find a movie-specific justification for every instance, but in context it just becomes whitewashing.
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Re: Mister Doctor [Strange]

Postby KnightExemplar » Fri Dec 09, 2016 7:19 pm UTC

I'm going to have to say that Pai Mei (Kill Bill 2) was a bigger issue for bullies / hurtful stereotypes through school rather than some random whitewashing. Well, what was more relevant in my schooldays was "The Karate Kid" but you get the idea. Random Asian kung-fu master is a hurtful stereotype especially if portrayed in the original manner.

The evil Fu Manchu Asian is a bad stereotype. Honestly, I prefer MCU's preference to 'whitewash' "The Mandarin" and "The Ancient One" to avoid the hurtful stereotype in both cases.

Hiro (Big Hero Six) serves as the modern Marvel / Disney Asian character to strive to be. There are plenty of good role models with a proper ethnicity (ie: Japanese). Granted, my particular ethnicity is pretty rare (Phillipeno) so I'm not really gonna be expecting a major hero to show up. FYI: Asian's don't give a shit about other 'asians'. There isn't one culture. Phillipenos are racist against Koreans, Vietnamese, and Chinese while we're talking in Tagalog.

If you REALLY want to respect my culture, pull a Jason Bourne / Matt Daemon and use Phillipeno Martial Arts throughout a series. THAT is how you show cultural relevance... not by randomly changing characters into Asians and/or minority figures. Its far more important to portray the culture in a realistic and kickass way rather than to just choose a particular actor. (The rolled-up newspaper as an improvised weapon was basically straight-out of Phillipeno martial arts)

And unless some Tibetan comes in here and tells me that they would have preferred "The Ancient One" to remain the Tibetan stereotype... I'm going to have to agree with the direction of this particular film. Its bad enough that most people talk about "Asians" as if they're a generic race and/or culture. Indeed, a major culture-shock for my "Fresh off the boat" cousins is having to deal with the "Generic Asian" outlook of Americans.

You really can't just take the clothing of a particular religion, grab a few American stereotypes of Asians and dress Asians up in them... and then call it "culturally correct". IMO, its more honest to dress up white people in Asian stereotypes, as per "The Mikado". Otherwise, I'm going to assume that those stereotypes, ESPECIALLY "The Ancient One classic" who was somewhat religious, look like Neon Genesis Evangelion to a Western Christian. (Possibly heretical, but most likely an 'LOL, that's what they think my culture is about?')

As far as I can tell, Chinese peeps would have been pissed if there were a heroic Tibetan figure. Well, mainlanders anyway. (Some Chinese families left China during the Red Scare and might be a rebellious type... to enjoy a Tibetan figure being propped up in a major American Movie to "stick it to the man"). Phillipenos wouldn't give a shit, because we're not Tibetan... aside from the fact that people will continue to think that Philipenos are somehow "generically Asian" and should care about "generic Asian issues".

The real issues are far more complex than just "whitewashing", as far as "Asian culture" is concerned. And the director of this movie seemed adept at handling the real issues surrounding the cultural and casual racism towards Asians. That's why I'm cool with this movie.

Tyndmyr wrote:Supes, Batman, spiderman are basically A-list. I could argue for Cap and Wolverine as well. All appear absolutely constantly, and anybody alive in the US can probably sketch out the basics of their origin story simply because they're culturally so pervasive.

If you take out spiderman, x-men, and fantastic 4 though...the MCU has been definitely focused on the people that are biggest after that.

Okay, maybe Namor should be in there too, but he's honestly thematically a discount Aquaman. Probably best to not. I'm getting sidetracked, though...if we're after diversity or what not, the Black Panther movie I expect to be pretty good...and I see no particular reason why we can't have Wasp and Black Widow as stand alone films, or as strong pairings if we're doing crossover films.

The movies haven't really invented a lot of wholly new characters, but the pool of minor characters to draw from is quite deep


Black Bolt (who has an upcoming movie) is one guy who has been missing from the MCU. "The Watcher" as well, but I'm liking his absence so far. "Guardians of the Galaxy" was like, C-list heroes however. Its like they pulled out Squirrel Girl all of a sudden.

But aside from "Guardians of the Galaxy", I agree with you. The films all seem to be roughly in order of popularity. Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Capt. America... these are all characters who have made major appearances in the comics.
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Re: Mister Doctor [Strange]

Postby maybeagnostic » Fri Dec 09, 2016 11:39 pm UTC

Liri wrote:Yeah, the point is that you can probably find a movie-specific justification for every instance, but in context it just becomes whitewashing.
So you wouldn't notice except someone did and told you it was bad so now you do care that they made a change.

And it is pretty damn far from whitewashing but that discussion has been going in circles for a while.

Zohar wrote:But that's because they chose a controversial change, from a person of color to a white person.
It really isn't all that controversial other than among a small minority of viewers who wouldn't have been happy however the change had been handled unless it was done in a way that would have had a lot more people upset for much more legitimate reasons.
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Re: Mister Doctor [Strange]

Postby Liri » Sat Dec 10, 2016 12:43 am UTC

maybeagnostic wrote:
Liri wrote:Yeah, the point is that you can probably find a movie-specific justification for every instance, but in context it just becomes whitewashing.
So you wouldn't notice except someone did and told you it was bad so now you do care that they made a change.

And it is pretty damn far from whitewashing but that discussion has been going in circles for a while.

I wouldn't notice because I'm not a fan of the source material. Me knowing or not knowing has no bearing on the situation.

I'm still pretty ambivalent about it. I'm not trying to use that as a way to criticize the movie. I don't think it negatively impacted the quality in any way, and I still enjoyed it. I think it's just something to be aware of.
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