With the stars of Marvel’s Iron Fist making the press junket rounds to promote the new shows, the actor playing Danny Rand, Finn Jones, has been asked over and over again about the supposed controversy of the Iron Fist character being white and not Asian. We all know that Danny Rand is white in the comics but the comics that came out in the 60’s and early ’70s were not as full of diversity as they are now.
This isn’t the first time Marvel has been accused of this. As early as last year you saw a “White-Washed” version of The Ancient One in the Doctor Strange film and when the casting of Tilda Swinton was first announced the backlash started.
Sure, there are some politics involved as the Ancient One was originally a character of Tibetan origins and the ongoing political turmoil with Tibet and China would’ve made it a tough sell for Disney to release the film in china, the 2nd biggest box office in the world behind the U.S. but the other side of the coin would have been Hollywood once again doing a Mr. Miyagi or character color being the elderly wise one to the white protagonist. Think of every role Morgan Freeman has played or Will Smith as the wisest caddie in the history of golf. So damned if you do, damned if you don’t. That brings us to Iron Fist. Sure, would a Asian lead be good diversity…yes.
Does an Asian man as a Martial Arts expert play on western stereotypes? Absolutely.
So once again Marvel finds itself in between a rock and hard place with its critics calling on diversity, ultimately it will be the story telling that determines how this criticism will be answered. As with Doctor Strange, all criticism was almost forgotten when Tilda Swinton stole every scene she was in.
Marvel’s Iron Fist debuts on Netflix on March 17th.
Written by: Tim Vo, Lord of the Long Box