Warning: Spoilers ahead
The president of Marvel Studios Kevin Feige confirms that Dr Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Wong (Benedict Wong) will be part of the Avengers when the superhero team goes to war in Avengers: Infinity War (2018).
Feige said this in an interview in Hong Kong, where he was promoting the upcoming feature Marvel’s Doctor Strange with actors Cumberbatch and Tilda Swinton, as well as director Scott Derrickson.
In the film, Wong portrays a sorcerer who is part of a powerful enclave headed by the Ancient One that serves as magical protectors of the Earth against dark forces.
Dr Strange, a neuro-surgeon, seeks help from the mystical group when his hands are ruined in an accident. It turns out, Strange has a greater destiny ahead of him – as the most powerful sorcerer in existence.
“(After Doctor Strange) he will be in the next Avengers film, Infinity War, and they go up against a very big bad guy, the biggest bad guy they ever faced. So they need all the help they can get. His particular power-set now and his ability to sort of mess with time and space will at least give them a fighting chance against the bad guys,” Feige explained.
Feige also addressed the whitewashing controversy that cropped up when the Doctor Strange teaser first came out as it featured actress Tilda Swinton in the role of the Ancient One, originally written as an Asian man in the comics.
“When the controversy started, the Wong character wasn’t featured very much in that trailer because it was a teaser trailer and we had to get this crazy concept of a surgeon who loses the use of his hands and goes to Nepal and learns new skills … so we couldn’t put much in it. So I was sitting there and part of me was going, ‘Wait till you see Wong’.(At that point) we were very focused on reinterpreting a traditional male character and making it into a woman.”
The other big change was turning Wong – who is Dr Strange’s manservant in the comics – into something more in the movie.
“It was always our intention to make Wong a noble character and be a big part of the movie. From the beginning, that was the idea for the character.”
Feige added: “(Actor Benedict) Wong is amazing in this movie, and he is also continuing forward into the Avengers movie as well because he was always a key character for us. I think people will see – and I have always said – that we’d rather our actions show how we feel than how words are spun.”
The 46-year-old Wong, who hails from Britain, recently starred in Netflix’s Marco Polo series.
Feige also revealed that Asian actors may be cast in other key roles in future Marvel films.
“Again, re-interpreting from the comics … there might be a character who is of another ethnicity in the comics and we’d hire another a great Asian actor to play the character.”