Today saw the release of the Marvel's Doctor Strange. A movie that we can't help but be excited about.
As much as we love the visual mindbending adventure, and as much as we adore Cumberbatch, it's important that we pause and take a moment to reflect on the character's history. That way we can appreciate the implications and can see how it reflects on the time in which he was created, and what we can learn from it today.
The character, created in 1963, is a reflection of the time period.
These were the years following the atrocity of Japanese internment, post Korean War, and in the midst of the strife in Veitnam.
It goes without saying that the treatment of those of Asain ancestory was less than favorable.
Although never strictly referred to as such. It is undeinable in his original appearance.
As Kurt Busiek points out on twitter "The number of people telling me that Dr. Strange isn't literally called Asian in STRANGE TALES 110, as if comics only communicate in words.."
Those savvy in their comic history will know the first edition of Dr. Strange was published under the name "Doctor Droom" in 1961.
A man who literally turns into an Asian caricature when he gains his powers. The character would then emerge as Doctor Strange a few years later.
“There are no Asian movie stars” – Aaron Sorkin
The issue then becomes this. Although we love Cumberbatch, why is a character with, albeit racist, Asian origins being played by a white englishman?
Although the bonestructure is uncannily similiar, it calls to attention the issue of whitewashing in Hollywood.
As it stands right now, Asian males are the least represented demographic in Hollywood.
When they are represented it's almost always unfavorable.
(Long Duck Dong from Sixteen Candles anyone?)
We encourage you to go see Doctor Strange, it's a fantastic film. But let us keep in mind that although we've come far in equality the last 50 years, we still have a long way to go.
Thanks to Charles PM and Kurt Busiek