The interesting thing about eclectic actress Tilda Swinton potentially playing a male character in Marvel’s upcoming Doctor Strange is that … well … it doesn’t sound strange at all.
Androgyny has its own page in the actress’ playbook, as we’ve seen her play characters like the the gender-neutral Angel Gabriel in Constantine, and Orlando, the titular character from a 1992 drama in which an English Nobleman acquires the ability to experience several different lives while changing his sex along the way.
This time around, she’ll be tasked with playing The Ancient One, an immortal and powerful being that serves as Dr. Stephen Strange’s mentor. The character is a master of the mystic arts and also instructs Baron Mordo, a rival sorcerer who may is rumored to be portrayed by Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave).
In the comics, the character is male and of Asian descent, but Swinton’s penchant for gender-bending performances that change the rules should do the mystic guru plenty of justice. Plus, Marvel has shown in past films that the studio isn’t afraid to break from the comics when appropriate.
According to a profile in The Guardian, the actress “doesn’t yet know if she’ll play the part as a man or a woman” but hey, it’s 2015, does it really matter?
Doctor Strange is set to hit theaters November 4, 2016, with Swinton starring opposite the red-hot Benedict Cumberbatch (Dr. Stephen Strange). Rachel McAdams is also rumored to be involved while Scott Derrickson (Deliver Us from Evil, The Exorcism of Emily Rose) will man the director’s chair.
This should be an interesting movie, as Marvel has shown a willingness to branch out and give some of its lesser-known characters stand-alone films, a strategy that recently paid dividends (See: Ant-Man). While Dr. Stephen Strange doesn’t have the type of following that Spider-Man or Captain America do, we wouldn’t bet against Doctor Strange at the box-office.
Updated 7/28/2015: The date of Doctor Strange’s release was corrected from Nov. 2015 to 2016.