In the Marvel Cinematic Universe the Ancient One is a bald woman. Out-of-universe, it's probably because she's based on a bald male character. But

Question: Is there an in-universe explanation as to why the Ancient One is bald?

In other words: what caused her to go bald? (I’m after an in-universe answer, i.e. not “the director”). When a woman goes bald, it’s generally for a reason, e.g. she has an illness that makes her hair fall out. (This is unlike a man.)

Perhaps she stopped growing hair for some reason (although she still has eyebrows), e.g., because she's very old (ancient, in fact). Or perhaps she shaves her head each day. Or maybe she uses her magic to get rid of hair. I have no idea.

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    IIRC she has a scar on her scalp somewhere. I don't feel comfortable making this an answer in case I'm mis-remembering, I'd have to check.
    – F1Krazy
    Commented Jan 13, 2020 at 9:45
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    I think you self-answered on your second sentence.
    – Luciano
    Commented Jan 13, 2020 at 10:18
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    @Luciano I interpreted the question to ask "why is The Ancient One (regardless of who plays that character) portrayed as bald".
    – TylerH
    Commented Jan 13, 2020 at 15:01
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    @TylerH true, I was thinking of the the cinematic version only.
    – Luciano
    Commented Jan 13, 2020 at 15:37

1 Answer 1


According to Marvel:

The youth who would eventually be called the Ancient One was born over five hundred years ago in Kamar-Taj, a village in a hidden land in the Himalaya Mountains in the area now known as Tibet.

After travelling the world for centuries the Ancient One built a palace with an order of monks to protect and assist him.

Let's see: although Kamar-Taj is a fictional place created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko in 1963, it's located where Tibet is. The main religion practiced in Tibet is Tibetan Buddhism.

Buddhist monks and nuns practice tonsure (shaving the head) as part of becoming a monk, and they keep the head and face shaven.

I don't have more to back it up but it's fair to assume that the character was created as a bald male to look more like a stereotypical Tibetan monk.

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    In the MCU the Ancient One is Celtic I believe so the reasons from the comics probably don't apply. Commented Jan 13, 2020 at 17:01
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    @TheLethalCarrot She may be Celtic by birth, but that doesn't mean she wasn't trained by Tibetan (or other Buddhist) monks. In fact, since most of the other people seen around the monastery seem to be of Asian descent, it's fairly likely. (Concerns about white-washing the major characters aside, they may have wanted to avoid any explicit mention of Tibet to avoid losing the Chinese market for the film.) Commented Jan 13, 2020 at 18:40
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    @DarrelHoffman AFAIA there is 0 mention of any monks in her history with the only thing being the sorcerers themselves but then you get to the question of if all the sorcerers were monks why were they not all bald? The whole monk thing is entirely from the comics and not supported in the MCU whatsoever. Commented Jan 14, 2020 at 13:57
  • Tibet? In Doctor Strange the titular character travelled to Kathmandu, Nepal to reach Kamar-Taj. Nepal is on the Southern slope of the Himalayas mountain range, while Tibet is on the Northern slope. Commented Sep 15, 2023 at 16:29
  • @EtackSxchange don't shoot the messenger: it's on the Marvel page I linked.
    – Luciano
    Commented Sep 18, 2023 at 11:32

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