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28 October 2014 @ 10:43 pm
The Curious Case of Benedict Cumberbatch  
Marvel earlier today announced their plans for Phase 3.

Because it's the Internet, there has been an array of Yays! and Nays! about parts of the announcement. I'm going to stick to my usual method of waiting and seeing.

But I felt like this annoucement has been somewhat overshadowed by the increasingly irate posts I've been seeing on Tumblr about the casting rumors that Benedict Cumberbatch is up for Doctor Strange. The always insightful Hello Tailor, writes about the backlash phenomenon HERE.


When the Backlash!Batch posts started showing up on my Tumblr feed, most of it seemed to be around the discontent that Marvel was potentially going to cast yet another white man in a role that could go to an actor of color. And it's true, sure. I knew next to nothing about Doctor Strange so I wikipedia'd him. From my extremely limited knowledge, it seems like he's white but as Hello Tailor pointed out, you could easily change his race to not white given all the other liberties MCU takes with translating the comics. But even if Cumberbatch isn't the one ultimately cast as Strange, I'm going to guess it's either him or another white actor.

BC getting the role of Khan in the last Star Trek reboot, to me, is the much glaring example of whitewashing. But to be honest, I wasn't that bothered by it when I saw the movie because the role itself was such a pale (yeah, I see what I did there) imitation of the original Khan who was so much more complex. If an actual Indian actor had been cast as Khan and then been given that version of the character, it would have felt like a huge waste of an opportunity. So I preferred that the somewhat one dimensional, eugenics-loving villain was assigned to another white actor. But that's just me. I know other fans and people involved in the movie like John Cho were much more vocal about it being a bad choice.

But back to Doctor Strange. I'm tempted to go with Hello Tailor's theory that people are just reaching their peak when it comes to seeing BC everywhere. I don't particularly feel BC fatigue, but I don't really feel his presence that much. He's in certain films and shows and obviously on the Internet. But I tend not to linger too much on the Internet presence and his performances I sort of take or leave depending on how he does. I remember he was definitely in The Hobbit because I liked his performance so much but I sometimes forget that I saw The Fifth Estate because I hated it so much. He's not always a reliable actor and because of this, I feel like he doesn't always stick to my brain the way some actors do.

Whether or not he's overrated, I think, depends a little on who you ask when speaking about his abilities as an actor. I've long held the belief that you don't necessarily need to be a brilliant actor to have a huge Hollywood career (which is where BC might be circling). You need to have the right timing and a certain appeal which I think BC has. And the man can act. It's not like he's talentless. But Hollywood is not usually about giving the proper amount of adulation based on a person's acting talent. So yeah, BC might be overrated but most actors who make it big in Hollywood tend to be a little overrated always. That's why it's so hard to have staying power.

Just as a wrap up, I do wonder if Keanu Reeves is at all being considered for Doctor Strange. Maybe not, but regardless, check out a clip of him being interviewed by Josh Horowitz. It's just amusing all around.
 
 
 
The Writer They Call Tayawanderingbard on October 29th, 2014 09:12 pm (UTC)
In my personal opinion (as a White person, which certainly influences my perspective on the matter), it's a much more egregious issue to change the race of a character from not-White to White than it is to fail to change the race of the character from White to Non-White. As far as I can recall, Marvel has kept the POC characters as POC within in their movies. Hogun in Thor remained Asian, Rhodey remained African-American, as did Falcon. Heimdall I think was changed to be played by an Afro-Caribbean actor and that caused an uproar, too. All the Howling Commandos retained their original ethnicities and races. I know that these are minor characters and what is being asked for a is a lead role, but in terms of white washing, as far as I know, there hasn't been any. That doesn't mean that another White actor has to be cast for Doctor Strange or indeed should be cast for Doctor Strange, but it does show that Marvel at least will honour the backstories of characters established as a certain race. Black Panther will certainly be an Afro-Caribbean actor, and he will be the lead of that movie, so at least there are some strides being taken there.

I think the Cumberbatch fatigue is a much more likely scenario, and for reasons that I don't think are even his fault. I don't think he's that as prevalent in real life as it seems, but I think he's that prevalent in fandom and social media. Anyone on tumblr, no matter what fandom they follow, will have had some Cumberbatch on their dashes--more than they'd like. And that's nothing to do with him. It's not his fault that the thing he became famous for has a disproportionate amount of awfulness within its fandom.

I also think that because of the severe divide on whether he is, in fact, sexiness and attractiveness personified in human form, or the ugliest creature who ever walked the planet, means there are a huge number of people out there who just don't see the appeal. He's the poster boy for a shift to a new type of a leading man, one who is maybe more intelligent and quirky than handsome and athletic, and there are some people who are going to prefer the handsome and athletic. He's finally reached success at the perfect time to be cast in lead roles after more than a decade as the quirky sidekick, and he's certainly going to do everything he can to cash in on that before things shift back toward some other trend or he gets too old to be cast in these sorts of parts.

So, you've got on one hand, people who know who he is and are sick of seeing him because of stuff unrelated to his number of actual television and film roles vs his presence in fandom, and on the other hand you've got people who have no clue who he is and wonder why the hell this ugly, strange actor with the stupid name keeps getting cast in everything. And on a third hand lent by a helpful assistant, you've got people who like him and are excited. And then on the fourth hand, you have the people who know him and like him, who are a still a little sick of seeing him (seriously, take a holiday, Sweetie, you're going to make yourself ill if you don't slow down).

And, finally, no matter who gets cast for any part in an adaptation of something beloved, there are going to be people who are horribly displeased.

/surprisingly long rant
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on October 29th, 2014 10:49 pm (UTC)
it's a much more egregious issue to change the race of a character from not-White to White than it is to fail to change the race of the character from White to Non-White.

For me, this is a tough issue. I tend to be someone who really believes that a character's race is an integral part of who they are and does make a huge contribution to their actions, motivations, etc. Changing the race can have a large impact on the character themselves until it's almost a different character.

The example that comes to my mind is the genderbending, race bending of Joan Watson. She's a prime example of how you take a traditionally White male character, change the gender and race, and get a great character. However, I'm also aware that Joan Watson is not John Watson from the canon books. Not at all in terms of how she is with Sherlock and the role she plays in his life, apart from him loving her as the most important person he has.

So while I understand all the awesomeness that can come from changing White characters to POC characters, it does bring with it a shift that not everyone is going to like. But at the same time, if we really stick to Marvel keeping the races the way they are, the pickings for a lead are a bit slim from what I understand. And the majority of the super popular characters will be white men. And just to go along with Hello Tailor's theory, even if a bunch of viewers decided casting another White Guy is egregious enough to stop watching all Marvel, I feel this is a tiny, tiny slice of the fandom.

I think the Cumberbatch fatigue is a much more likely scenario, and for reasons that I don't think are even his fault.

No, it's completely not. He's trapped in that scenario you detail where he has to work like crazy now since this is his time because he's aware that acting is fickle and after 10 years of intense work, he might not get anything else. He almost has to try and be everywhere to prepare himself for what might be in his future later.
The Writer They Call Tayawanderingbard on October 29th, 2014 11:25 pm (UTC)
And just to go along with Hello Tailor's theory, even if a bunch of viewers decided casting another White Guy is egregious enough to stop watching all Marvel, I feel this is a tiny, tiny slice of the fandom.

I don't know how to word this so I'm not undermining a valid complaint, but I feel like what's more productive is to be vocal that people want a movie about a superhero who isn't a White male than to be vocal about casting a White male to play an (albeit arguably) White male superhero.

He almost has to try and be everywhere to prepare himself for what might be in his future later.

Exactly. Men have a longer lifespan in Hollywood in a leading role capacity, but he's only come to leading role status in his late thirties, but the time he's in his fifties, he's going to start to be cast as the Dad and the Wise Older Guy.