In the past few months, Marvel's casting news has been creating some controversy online. Some accuse the studio of whitewashing classic characters, other are accusing them of changing other characters' races to be "politically correct."
Doctor Strange and Spider-Man: Homecoming are the two most recent to come under fire regarding its bold casting choices, but for different reasons.
Doctor Strange is being accused of whitewashing after casting Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One, originally an old Tibetan man in the comics. Meanwhile, Spider-Man: Homecoming is being accused of being too politically correct after casting Zendaya as Mary Jane Watson, Tony Revolori as Flash Thompson and Bokeem Woodbine as Herman Schultz/The Shocker — all characters portrayed as white in their comic book counterparts. No matter how you slice it, the geek community is pretty vocal when it comes to diverse casting — for better or for worse.
We take to message boards, tweets, Facebook statuses or blogs to voice our opinions, our support and sometimes, our dismay over these casting decisions. Even after all this discussion, I still have one question:
Is Marvel Creating Casting Controversy On Purpose?
Now, this is a touchy subject — and everyone is entitled to their own opinion — but let's just look at some of the facts. There has been a lot of Marvel casting news in the past few months, largely coming from the anticipated Spider-Man: Homecoming.
When Marvel taps an actor for its film, it will inevitably become headline news. So when the studio makes the announcement that an actor or actress is playing a part that was originally portrayed by someone of a different race or gender, fans tend to get defensive.
You know that old saying, "There's no such thing as bad press"? Well there is some truth to that. All the outcry of the fans is basically free advertising for Marvel's upcoming slate. If people talk about a film long enough, eventually people will feel compelled to go see it.
How Is Creating Controversy Around Their Movies Going To Help Them?
Remember all the controversy around the female cast of Ghostbusters and how a lot of people said they weren't gonna go see it? Well, someone must have seen it because the film made over $208 million dollars — that's a profit of $64 million.
Similarly, who could forget the controversy surrounding Michael B. Jordan being cast as Johnny Storm in the reboot of Fantastic 4, or more hilariously known as Fant4stic? Clearly someone saw that as well, because despite its negative reviews, it still made $168 million dollars at the box office, $48 million more than its $120 million budget.
What about The Lone Ranger when everyone was outraged that Johnny Depp was portraying an Indian man named Tonto? Shockingly, The Lone Ranger still went on to profit $35 million dollars from it's $225 million dollar budget. I'm guessing you can see the pattern I'm forming here?
No matter how much we dislike the casting or how outraged we might be that our favorite characters aren't portrayed exactly how we want them to be, curiosity has proven to get the better of us.
Creating controversy on a movie has not only given the film free publicity, but also creates interest among the fans — even if they don't want to admit it. So keep accusing Doctor Strange on whitewashing and Spider-Man: Homecoming of being politically correct, you're probably going to go see it anyway. After all, isn't that what being a fan is all about?
Get a look at Tilda Swinton's role as the Ancient One in the upcoming Doctor Strange movie by watching the trailer below: