4 years ago1,000+ Views
The Oscar nominee (known for his stunning performance in 12 Years a Slave) has been confirmed for a role in Marvel's upcoming Doctor Strange. He will be playing Baron Mordo, a sorcerer who apprentices beside the titular character Strange (played by Benedict Cumberbatch), only to become an antagonist as the story progresses. This follows casting news that Tilda Swinton is in talks to play The Ancient One, a character that was presented as male in the comics.
While this is really exciting news, I suspect that Ejiofor won't be un the MCU for very long. Marvel has adhered to a very strict formula for their films: the heroes fight and lose, fight and lose really big, and then win, which often means the antagonist ends up dead. With the exception of Loki, none of the MCU villains have returned for a second film. And Marvel has managed to get some great talent for their rogues gallery (Lee Pace, Robert Redford, Hugo Weaving), yet they don't seem interested in using thse actors long-term.
There was also some backlash from fans when it was announced that Cumberbatch had been cast as Doctor Strange. Marvel has a serious diversity problem: all of their films thus far have been centered around the narratives of white men (The Avengers films are ensemble movies, but Black Widow is the most prominent female character, and the overall plots of both films spent very little time on her development). Racial representation in the Marvel films is even worse. So, while fans still gravitate towards Cumberbatch (his work in Sherlock and The Hobbit have cemented his presence in geekier circles), there was overwhelming disappointment coming at Marvel from all directions when the announcement was made. Will casting Ejiofor help them save face?
That really depends on the writing? Is his character just going to be another antagonist for the white hero to defeat? Too often (and I mean way WAY too often), characters of color only exist in films to make thr white characters look good. This could be Morpheus in the Matrix, who acts as Neo's guide to the world, only to need to be rescued (serving as the motivation for Neo's savior plot). Or this could go all the way back to Gone With the Wind, which featured a character called Mammy comforting the white protagonists (Hattie McDaniel was the first black person nominated for an Oscar). Essentially, Marvel didn't cause this problem of representation in film. But they need to do more than they have been if they want to help fix it.