The movie Avengers have not been the most diverse of super teams. It started with a largely white team in “The Avengers” (led by a black man), before the addition of War Machine and Falcon in “Avengers: Age Of Ultron”. As “Avengers: Infinity War” looms in 2018, it looks like we’re finally going to get our first Asian “superhero” in the mix.
That is, according to a scoop by Channel NewsAsia’s Genevieve Loh, who was at the Hong Kong press event for the upcoming Doctor Strange. There, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige revealed that Avengers: Infinity War will feature an Asian character. Now, the Avengers comics haven’t exactly featured many Asians in the team: Mantis, Shangi-Chi (Secret Avengers), Sunfire (Uncanny Avengers) and Ms Marvel are among the few. Mantis is already appearing in Guardians Of The Galaxy 2, and it turns out Feige has someone else in mind …
At the interview, Feige confirmed that Benedict Wong, who stars as … Wong, will be making an appearance in the next Avengers movie.
“It was always our intention to make Wong a very noble character and a very big part of the movie from the beginning. That was the idea for the character,” Feige told Channel NewsAsia. “Now with more trailers out, you’ll see that (Benedict Wong) is amazing (in Doctor Strange). He also is continuing forward into the Avengers movies as well.”
“I’m not sure if I have told anybody else that yet,” he added. “Yes, Wong. Because he’s always a very key character for us.”
Now, it’s unclear if how big a role Wong will play in Avengers: Infinity War, or if he’s even going to be part of the Avengers themselves. Benedict Wong previously told Screenrant that his character will be a Kamar-Taj master and trainer – no longer a manservant – but it’ll be interesting to see whether he only pops up for a cameo (before promptly dying) or actually kicks some ass for a prolonged period.
Still, what’s heartening to note is Feige saying that they shuffled the Doctor Strange filming schedule around to make sure Benedict Wong was cast.
“We talk about Benedict Cumberbatch so much because he is the title character. But we almost didn’t get Benedict Wong because he is a very busy actor too,” Feige said. “We had to shuffle and allow ourselves to be available for him because we really wanted him and because he is a great actor!”
THE RACE ISSUE
Feige also brought up how the character Wong will play a major part in Doctor Strange.
Said Feige: “What was frustrating was that in the first trailer that came out there when some of the controversy (about race) started, the Wong character wasn’t featured very much in that trailer just because it was the teaser trailer and we had to get this crazy concept out … that we couldn’t put in all these other characters. So part of me was sitting there going, wait till you see Wong!”
The Marvel Studios head is referring to the whitewashing issue, where Tilda Swinton was cast in the role of the Ancient One, who has Tibetan roots. Still, despite Feige’s protestations, having a strong Asian character doesn’t quite quell the “whitewashing” issue.
That said, having an Asian character carry over to Avengers: Infinity War in a major way would still be an appreciated move. Marvel has been under fire for both Doctor Strange and the situation around Iron Fist, so we’ll have to see how Feige keeps his promises, especially since the trailers don’t quite impart just how important Wong is going to be.
“I think people will see, and I’ve always said, I rather our actions showcase how we feel instead of just words or spin. And in upcoming roles and upcoming films, I would say, are inclusive as any big budget movies that have been made before,” Feige said.
With Doctor Strange out in less than a week, we’ll find out very, very soon.
Doctor Strange opens in Singapore Oct 27.