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Tilda Swinton Is Unsure Whether She'll Play Her Big Marvel Role as a Man or a Woman

Tilda Swinton Is Unsure Whether She'll Play Her Big Marvel Role as a Man or a Woman

By Joanna Robinson

Whether it be in fun David Bowie-centric side projects, in her film work, or via her own, cutting-edge style, Tilda Swinton has always played with notions of gender and androgyny. But it looks like the chameleonic actress is about to push those boundaries even further. At the end of Swinton's recent interview with The Guardian, the interviewer notes that Swinton doesn't yet know if she’ll play her big role in Marvel's "Doctor Strange" as a man or as a woman.

Who knew that was an option?

There was quite the stir in the comic-book community when Tilda Swinton was cast as the Ancient One, a "Tibetan mystic" who acts as a mentor to Benedict Cumberbatch's "Doctor Strange." Putting aside the interesting race debate for a moment, the big news was that the Ancient One is a male character. And given that Marvel has had issues in the past finding equal room for women in its films, news of Swinton’s casting was seen as a swing in the right direction.

And I don't think anyone can look at the odd and unusual ways Swinton has attacked her roles in "Snowpiercer" or "Only Lovers Left Alive" and see her gender-fluid approach to the Ancient One as anything other than a fascinating win. "Doctor Strange," with its mystical elements, Oscar-caliber cast (Cumberbatch, Swinton, and Chiwetel Ejiofor), and Sinister director Scott Derrickson at the helm, was already on its way towards being one of Marvel's more unusual entries. This new twist from Tilda only has us even more intrigued.

And if Swinton does decide to play the Ancient One as a man (or, hey, genderless!), that won't mean the film will be absent any female characters. Rachel McAdams recently confirmed that she's in talks to play the female lead opposite Cumberbatch's sorcerer supreme. No word yet on exactly who she would be playing, though there have been plenty of guesses. But whether McAdams joins the cast or Swinton plays a man, one thing's for sure, this is shaping up to be one of Marvel's strangest films yet. And that's a good thing.

"Doctor Strange" is due in theaters November 4, 2016.

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