Iron Fist co-creator Roy Thomas has addressed the backlash regarding the casting of Finn Jones in the role of Iron Fist.
While Danny Rand himself is a white character in the comics, many are upset that Marvel chose to cast a white male as the warrior monk who returns home from the mythical city of K’un L’un in the Himalayas, trained in the martial arts with mystical powers so that he can destroy the fictional ninja order known as The Hand. The criticism is that many feel the casting itself is cultural appropriation, going as far to suggest that only an Asian actor should play a Kung-Fu warrior.
Others feel that casting a white male in the role is a missed opportunity for diversity in Hollywood which is sorely lacking when it comes to Asian representation.
But Thomas isn’t letting the controversy bother him. In an recent interview with Inverse he said he was “vaguely aware” of the outrage as he defended the creative choice to make Danny a white character:
“Yeah, someone made me vaguely aware of that. I try not to think about it too much. I have so little patience for some of the feelings that some people have. I mean, I understand where it’s coming from. You know, cultural appropriation, my god. It’s just an adventure story. Don’t these people have something better to do than to worry about the fact that Iron Fist isn’t Oriental, or whatever word? I know Oriental isn’t the right word now, either.”
Thomas went further to explain that if the character of Danny Rand being a Kung-Fu master was somehow racist against Asian culture or it would be a different story but in this case, he feels that the outrage is misplaced going as far to call it “righteous indignation”:
“I just think some people have too much time on their hands, I guess. They have an infinite capacity for righteous indignation. By and large, that tends to be misplaced quite often because if you’re becoming all upset over things that are just stories, and if you don’t like it, instead of trying to change somebody else’s story, go out and make up your own character and do a good job of it. That’s just fine, but why waste time trying to run down other people’s characters simply because they weren’t created with your standards in mind? Now if something is really racist or degrading to a sex or race, an ethnic group or something like that, that’s something else, but Iron Fist isn’t that and never has been. It’s all about a fictitious race, a fictitious place like a Shangri-La, and one person who happens to be its emissary. There’s no reason why he can’t be Caucasian.”
Thomas also added that he wouldn’t have cared if Marvel had gone ahead and made the character of Danny Asian:
“On the other hand, if they had decided to make Iron Fist an Asian, that would have been fine with me, too. I wouldn’t have cared.
So what do you think? Does it frustrate you that Danny is white in the new series? It’s certainly a missed opportunity for Asian representation in entertainment but is it cultural appropriation? Sound off in the comments below.
The series stars Finn Jones as Danny Rand, Jessica Henwick as Colleen Wing, Jessica Stroup as Joy Meachum, Tom Pelphrey as Ward Meachum, David Wenham as Harold Meachum and Carrie-Ann Moss reprising her role as Jeri Hogarth. Here’s the official synopsis:
Danny Rand returns to New York City after being missing for years, trying to reconnect with his past and his family legacy. He fights against the criminal element corrupting his world around him with his incredible kung-fu mastery and ability to summon the awesome power of the fiery Iron Fist.
All episodes of Iron Fist are available to stream on Netflix today.