doctor strange wong actor

The cast Marvel Studios and director Scott Derrickson assembled for the upcoming Doctor Strange film was already stellar before they went and tossed another wonderful character actor into the mix. Benedict Wong, best known for playing NASA Jet Propulsion Lab director Bruce Ng in Ridley Scott’s The Martian, has joined the mystical superhero adventure as Wong, Stephen Strange’s manservant and right-hand-man.

Although the character of Wong will require Derrickson and his team to walk a very fine line, the casting of an actor as fine as, uh, Wong will surely give them a solid head start.

This news broke over at The Hollywood Reporter and, in typical Marvel style, additional details are scarce. Many comic book fans simply assumed that Wong, a character who can be what the kids these days call “problematic,” was simply excised from the film. Him being present at all represents an admirable devotion to the Doctor Strange mythos, but this is a character who may have to undergo some changes to be palatable in 2016.

Originally introduced in 1963 alongside the Sorcerer Supreme himself, Wong is Doctor Strange’s manservant, housekeeper, chef, medic, personal assistant, and so on. Although his earliest incarnations dwell in some dated racial stereotypes – A rich white superhero with an Asian manservant named Wong? Really? – recent versions of the character have made him far more than a simple sidekick. These days, Wong himself is an expert in the occult and a skilled martial artist, capable of backing up the Marvel Universe’s most powerful magician in combat and in his studies. Since Derrickson already dodged one unpleasant Asian stereotype by casting the downright supernatural Tilda Swinton as Strange’s mentor, the Ancient One, it would shock us if the cinematic Wong doesn’t undergo some necessary changes as well.

Interestingly, this is one of the first times Wong will be depicted as being older than Strange. The 45-year old Wong has the edge in age on the 39-year old Benedict Cumberbatch, which should make for an interesting dynamic, especially since Cumberbatch doesn’t quite look his age. Perhaps the MCU Wong will be more like Alfred in the Batman comics – a slightly older, wiser mentor who helps guide the egotistical Strange.

Wong was one of many bright spots in The Martian, creating the rare movie scientist who actually looked, spoke, and acted like a proper scientist. He also played Kublai Khan on Netflix’s Marco Polo series, Ravel in Prometheus, and Thompson in Moon. He’s certainly no stranger to genre fare and he should excel with this kind of pulpy material, especially since he’s surrounded by other high caliber actors.

Doctor Strange is filming now for a November 4, 2016 release date.

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