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The Iron Fist Casting Controversy: Is It Diverse Enough?


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.

Iron Fist

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.

Iron FistDoes 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

Photo Credit: Netflix

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Comments (4)

Nice article – I definitely agree that Marvel is stuck between a rock and a hard place with their castings. “Damned if you, damned if you dont” but the quality of the acting and the story will be an important factor just as it was (as you said) with Doctor Strange.

Seems kinda racist for everyone to make race such an important point.

Interesting that you ref. the Ancient One being “white-washed,” but make no mention of Baron Mordo who was clearly white in the comics, but made black for the movie. The list of historically white characters that Marvel has purposefully changed for the movies/TV in order to appease the PC crowd & keep the race hustlers at bay is quite long and constantly overlooked. Here are a few examples to validate my point:

• Max Dillon as Electro. Historically a white villain in comics since his origin made black for Amazing Spider-Man #2 movie played by Jamie Foxx.
• Johnny Storm as Human Torch. Historically a white superhero since his origin was made black for the last FF movie which ended up a big flop.
• Wally West as the Flash. Historically a white superhero since his origin that was made black when series was re-launched in DC’s New 52. The character will remain black for the TV series on the CW network.
• Carton Fisk as Kingpin. Historically a white villain since his origin made black for the first Daredevil movie. Played by the late, great (!), Michael Clarke Duncan.
• Ben Urich reporter for the Daily Bugle. Historically a white reporter in the comic books, made black for Daredevil Season 1.

Marvel castes this correctly whether you agree with it or not. I think they should save those arguments for when it has basis.

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