Regular readers of this blog may have noticed that I’m a big fan of the Cumberbatch, and I thoroughly enjoyed his performance as the villain in the latest Star Trek movie so long as I could forget his character’s name: Khan Noonien Singh, which is a name thoroughly imbued with a racial and ethnic history far removed from that of one of the Whitest men in show-business, i.e. Benedict Cumberbatch.
Seriously? I grok how they wanted to bring in an actor that geeks already like to play the part, but what exactly would have been the problem with casting somebody like Sendhil Ramamurthy from Heroes? That the show ended in 2010 wouldn’t be a problem – geeks are famous for their attachment to long-gone canonical fandoms.
Or even a bit of a nod to the movie whose casting led to the coining of the term racebending in the first place, and cast Dev Patel (whose Last Airbender character Prince Zuko was White in the original cartoon version)?
And what about the amazing Sir Ben Kingsley (ne Krishna Pandit Bhanji)? Sure he’s getting on in years (but that never stopped Christopher Lee (LOTR, Star Wars)), and he’s been really busy in other geek movies lately(Iron Man 3, the upcoming Ender’s Game) but did they even approach him? If not, why not?
The above three actors are just off the top of my head. There’d be plenty more contenders with faces who would suit the name Khan Noonien Singh. They could always have used Cumberbatch as a different villain in this movie or the next.
As racebending.com points out,
In the original Trek, Khan, with his brown skin, was an Übermensch, intellectually and physically perfect, possessed of such charisma and drive that despite his efforts to gain control of the Enterprise, Captain Kirk (and many of the other officers) felt admiration for him.
And that’s why the role has been taken away from actors of colour and given to a white man.