It Actually Really, Really Sucks That TV’s Iron Fist Is White

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It Actually Really, Really Sucks That TV’s Iron Fist Is White

Last week, white actor Finn Jones (best known as Loras Tyrell on Game of Thrones) was cast as Danny Rand, the white comic book character who becomes Marvel’s martial arts superhero Iron Fist. In terms of bringing the original character to life on screen, it was an accurate choice. But for many it was an upsetting choice, and guess what? They have every right to feel that way.

Those people who know why they are upset, and angry, and disappointed need no justification for the way they feel, especially from me. But I have seen far too many people call Marvel’s Iron Fist casting decision a “damned if they do, damned if they don’t” situation, where they’re weighing both sides as if they were equally valid.

They aren’t. Yes, it’s true that the comics character Iron Fist is white, and thus it is indeed technically accurate for a white guy to play the role on TV. But technical accuracy does not equate “the right thing”, for lack of a better term. Because as with so many superheroes, there is nothing about the character of Iron Fist that requires him to be played by a white person. Nothing. It is fundamental to no aspect of his personality, his origin, his powers.

In fact, Iron Fist is unique among Marvel’s other superheroes that have made the leap to live-action in that making him, say, an Asian-American would have unequivocally improved him. Why? Because Iron Fist never should have been white in the first place.

Ever since his comics debut in 1974, Danny Rand has been a rich white kid who happens across the mystical city of K’un L’un, gets taught martial arts, and of course turns out to be better at them than any of the natives. His preternatural talent allows him to defeat the dragon Shou-Lun, which gives him the mystic power of the Iron Fist — at which point Danny immediately leaves to be a superhero in America, because why would he stick around in K’un L’un?

His character was, and is, an appropriation of Asian culture — no different from American Ninja, Shogun, The Karate Kid, The Last Samurai, and all the other movies/comics/stories where a white guy discovers a foreign culture, learns its ways, and becomes better at it than the people born into it. It is both crappy and a cliché, and one that still gets used too often.

This obviously wasn’t considered a problem in the ’70s, but it sure as hell is a problem now. And it would have been easily rectified by casting an Asian-American (or even an Asian non-American) in the role of Danny Rand. How perfect would it be if Danny Rand was looking to reclaim his Asian heritage, instead of taking it from others? Besides being more culturally sensitive, it’s narratively much more powerful if the character Danny Rand has an authentic bond with the setting of his origin story, as opposed to merely co-opting it. So not only would a non-white Iron Fist have increased diversity and fixed an problem inherent in the character, but this change could have arguably made Iron Fist a better character.

So let’s not pretend that Marvel faced with an impossible dilemma here. Marvel wasn’t “damned if they did, damned if they didn’t”. The company had the chance to increase the diversity of its live-action universe and its multitude of media projects, and to rectify a problematic character created to co-opt another culture. There was an opportunity here, and you absolutely shouldn’t feel bad for Marvel that the company didn’t take it. Marvel also had the chance to cast a non-white actor to play Dr Strange, because there was literally no reason his character needed to be white. (In fact, there’s an argument to be made that the comic book Strange actually was Asian, since he was portrayed as such by luminary comic artists like Steve Ditko.) Marvel passed on that opportunity, too.

Why? Besides racists, there’s only one group of people who had an emotional stake in keeping Danny Rand a white guy, and that’s the small group of die-hard Iron Fist fans for whom changing anything would be a betrayal of the highest order. However much they might have complained, they would all have absolutely watched an Iron Fist TV show anyway — and let’s not pretend that Marvel is in the business of satisfying fans over mass audiences. There’s no way Finn Jones was cast solely to appease comic fans. Instead I’m sure Marvel thought that a white star would attract the widest audience. And maybe Marvel is correct in this.

But again, that doesn’t mean it’s the right thing. If Marvel Studios was actually committed to diversity — really committed, not just “taking 10 full years to give us a movie with a non-white lead, and god knows how much longer for a movie with a woman as the star” committed — then it would take at least one of the multitude of additional opportunities it’s had to increase its diversity.

Diversity isn’t a quota, or it shouldn’t be. It’s 2016. Diversity should be the goal. It something to companies like Marvel to constantly consider and to strive for, and for us fans to ask for.

With Iron Fist, Marvel had an opportunity — a golden opportunity — not only to increase the diversity that it claims is so important, but to update a character who was created in a less sensitive time to one who makes sense in the 21st century, too. It chose not to take that opportunity — the easiest, most natural opportunity that Marvel Studios will likely ever have to recast one of its infinite stock of white male heroes as someone else. It chose to perpetuate the problem, instead of helping to fix it.

So don’t feel bad for Marvel and its “impossible choice”. There was very clearly a right choice here, and Marvel didn’t make it. Be upset. Let them know. And don’t let them forget it.

Originally posted on Gizmodo.

Comments

  • That is pretty racist on both fronts.
    a) A martial artist should be played by an Asian
    b) A white guy can’t play a martial artist

    • Good point, hadn’t thought of that. Personally, I think adding diversity for the sake of diversity isn’t real diversity. It should purely boil down to whichever actor has the strongest presence and connection to the character in their audition.

      Hell, they could have had anyone – Caucasian, asian, african, middle eastern, aboriginal – doesn’t matter as long as they pick the best actor for the part.

      • Quite a weird coincidence, don’t you think, that asian, african, middle eastern and aboriginal actors almost never have the presence and connection to character that white people do?

        I guess it’s just something in white people’s genes that makes them inherently better actors, eh?

        • I didn’t say that. I’m not naive enough to think it’s the way it works, just the way I think it should.

          • Well yes, that’s the way it should work. But it doesn’t right now, so diversity does have to be a conscious choice over “default white.”

          • Except ‘default white’ is actually who the character was originally designed to be.

            If this was a new character, sure….go nuts. But the character WAS white.

        • It’s more a numbers game than anything else. There are more white actors in Hollywood, definitely. The white actors who get movie roles are probably less than 1% of the total number of white actors in the industry; and that is just the majority race in Hollywood. When you have black actors at something like 13% of the Oscar nominations (pretty close to the percentage of black people in America… that’s interesting.), you have an even smaller fraction of potentially “good” or movie-level actors to choose from. That’s before vetoing them based on things like age, build, looks, specific acting qualities, schedules, etc. In the end you have a tiny tiny fraction of actors to choose from in every role you pick.

          White actors get the roles because there are just way more of them.

          You could argue that there’s less actors of those other races in Hollywood because of racism / sexism / societal conditioning but to do so you’d need to deconstruct almost every single discursive construct that is responsible for the world around us to find the smoking gun. Even then you still can’t view any one thing in isolation and say “Here it is guys, the reason for racism or in this case, perceived racism!”

          • I’m a little unclear what you’re arguing, other than that 98.6% of all statistics are made up.

            You say that whites are “just the majority race in Hollywood”, and yet whites only made up 49.8% of the Los Angeles population in 2010 (Asians made up 11.3%).

            I don’t have any accurate statistics on the racial composition of aspiring and career actors in the LA area, although I expect that you don’t either. It appears you are simply assuming that because the majority of actors you see in Hollywood movies are white, that the majority of all actors are also white, a completely circular argument.

            Your argument about age, build, etc. is also fallacious. There is no reason why white actors would be more likely to share these particular qualities than any other racial background. Asian actors would therefore pass through those filters in roughly the same proportion as in the broader population unless, again, whites happen to be particularly “gifted” in these particular qualities.

            The presence of discrimination (which may be structural and unconscious) is proven, prima facie, by the very fact that one particular group is vastly over-represented in a field of endeavour. The onus thereafter falls on those arguing that there is no bias to explain how this isn’t, in fact, due to bias despite all appearances to the contrary.

          • http://www.economist.com/blogs/prospero/2016/01/film-and-race

            “In fact, as our analysis of film casts and awards shows, the number of black actors winning Oscars in this century has been pretty much in line with the size of America’s overall black population.”

            There’s your stats on the break up of the races. It goes on to talk about the fact that the Oscars are biased, so there’s definitely some bias occurring in that group (but the ages of the members of the board would definitely be an interesting piece of information).

            White actors do go through those exact same pre-requisites and screening processes. My point is that there are more of them going through the process and thus the chances of finding a “perfect” or at least desirable fit are far higher. It’s got nothing to do with white people being “gifted”, it’s about them being more numerous.

            The presence of discrimination (which may be structural and unconscious) is proven, prima facie, by the very fact that one particular group is vastly over-represented in a field of endeavour.

            Unfortunately, you’re getting way ahead of yourself on the fact that discrimination is the reason for underrepresentation. Like the wage gap (which has already been proven time and time again to be at the very least overstated, and at most completely untrue), discrimination is the assumption made from the data, but it’s almost impossible to prove that to be the case, and there are many, many other possible explanations that are more plausible.

            Nannies, for example, are massively overrepresented by women. It’s not just possible discrimination that keeps men from the field, it’s a divergence of interests that, if you really wanted to argue it, is born from social conditioning from birth. You could say “ah ha! See, discrimination, from an early age!” but ultimately you’d be arguing that humans lack the free will to make their own decisions in their lives. Not to mention the can of worms you open when you start to deconstruct society at such a foundational level, it’s like a house of cards that you’d end up having to rebuild from scratch (which is never going to work). And even if you do want to make that argument, it’s a generational problem, and as we go through generations and values and morals change over time, these things become far less of an issue. Look at the results of this survey to see how something like spanking tends to resolve itself over time, generationally, rather than through rallies and boycotts. http://waitbutwhy.com/table/spanking-survey-results

            I know that’s not a satisfying solution, the “wait until the old people die off and the new guard get the power they deserve” solution, but sometimes that’s the only viable one.

            The biggest issue with this sort of discussion is that people see a small group (in this case, the old white men who run the Oscars) who may very well be discriminating based on race and then use that assumption to extrapolate it into some systemic, widespread issue. People are not given jobs, promotions, and opportunities for so many reasons 100% including bias. It’s no secret and actually proven (based on Nicholas Cage’s career) that Hollywood is not a meritocracy.

            For every black actor snubbed for a role, there are just as many white actors who experience that same disappointment. They may experience equally unfair or invalid reasons for missing out because of one or several individuals not acting with integrity. But one person, or even a group of people, are not society as a whole, and one white man doesn’t speak for all white men. Are there racist people in positions of power in Hollywood? Almost certainly. Does that mean that Hollywood or even society in general is racist? Not a chance.

          • I completely agree, in fact I think all movies should be diverse, I’m sick of watching Asian martial arts movies with mainly Asian actors, or Bollywood films full of Indians, give the white people a chance!

            But seriously, get off your high horse and stop with your attempt at PC crap.

    • Thank you for adding that.

      Recasting Danny as an Asian actor adds nothing to the character except race based discussion. It’s counterproductive.

      The important thing is that the actor is a good martial artist. That is the absolute, no. 1 priority.

      And I’m saying that as a Chinese guy who grew up watching the old school Kung Fu movies that Iron Fist was based on.

      • Being a martial artist would have been my #1 criteria as well. I don’t think he is, though. I can’t find any reference to him having any kind of martial arts background.

      • Martial arts training can come with time like with Keanu Reeves & co in the Matrix… but unfortunately I don’t think we’re going to see that. Stunt doubles might work.

        • Good Martial Arts skills take years to develop, not weeks or months. The style, choreography, and novelty (at the time) saved The Matrix. Keanu Reeves & co were barely passable.

          At least Iron Fist’s face is mostly covered. They can swap in competent doubles pretty easily.

    • Yes it is.

      If the author is serious about racial diversity in Hollywood he is looking at the wrong roles.

      Rather than asking why didn’t they uphold a racial stereotype by casting a white martial artist as an Asian American, he should be asking why Jessica Jones wasn’t cast as an Asian American, or Steve Rogers, or Bruce Wayne…

  • I agree in principle that “white man goes to some foreign place and is better than the natives at their thing because reasons” is a harmful trope and these days should be addressed. It’s not like comics themselves don’t get rebooted every ten seconds.
    But on the other hand changing it to fulfil a diversity quota (or “goal” if you find the word more palatable) is always going to feel like tokenism which is its own controversy. Maybe we could just adapt actual Asian source material without whitewashing it. How about we start there?

    • Agreed, in the original posting of this on giz I actually posted a long version of how I would adapt it to steer clear of this trope and instead focus on the idea of self improvement by allowing yourself to appreciate other cultures.

      Frankly articles like this don’t even allow the possibility of them actually doing this in a way that could be culturally appropriate.

      Would making him Asian American be kind of cool an interesting angle? Sure, but that doesn’t mean trying something else is automatically racist. Hewing closer to the comic Danny Rand would allow more options to subvert the original racist tropes, rather than “half Asian rediscovers Asian culture but his Americaness makes him the best!”

    • The intent to change the background of Iron Fist is to distance the property from harmful tropes/outdated origins. Diversity quotas and tokenism don’t really come into it, unless they’re being used to maintain the current position.

      • I see that, my point is you can’t really win either way. Is the argument to keep the protagonist white purist or racist? Is the push to have him changed embracing diversity or pandering?

        Maybe a property with this much stigma attached to it isn’t suited for a modern adaptation.

        That said, I’d never heard of this property or it’s TV adaptation until I read this article (apart from hearing the actor who plays Loras Tyrell on Game of Thrones was cast in another show, which probably meant a dire outcome for Loras), so it could have been an asian guy and I wouldn’t have known any better. I’m not a purist, I really have no stake in this argument. But I think reimagining a character with what I assume is a rich backstory for the sake of hiding apparent “cultural appropriation” doesn’t seem to have much merit aside from “the author of this article thinks it’s good idea”.

        • I really have no stake in this argument. Ditto.
          The audience that inevitably watches the show will have a very low percentage of fans familiar with the source. Like you, most people would be completely unaware, and maybe wouldn’t care. It’s a good position to hold. That said, it shouldn’t matter either way whether the character is altered or maintained.
          However, personally, I’d rather the character is updated in one form or another to shirk the dead weight of a story that relies on the premise of “yet another rich white kid overcomes whatever to be the best at whatever”. Rather like me, that type of story is tired and lazy by today’s standards.

    • I don’t quite agree that “whitewashing” adapted movies is necessarily a bad thing. Yes Dragon ball sucked, but The Departed was fantastic. I think in this age of information we’d do better to promote international film, ideas and actors. On Netflix I have a buttload of quality Asian and Indian film. I watch horror from Spain and comedy from Germany. Do I need different interest groups wedged into my other things because otherwise I’ll forget these people exist? If they’d made this with an Asian actor I wouldn’t care, but I don’t care that he’s white either. They could have made him Hispanic and it would be the same to me. Maybe this guy got the role because he was the best applicant? Maybe he earned it? This is the part with this PC shit that makes me sick.

      You want to promote Asian culture and Asian actors. Go watch some Tony Jaa movies. Go watch The Raid. Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan and Jet LI broke into the American market because they were really fucking good and people wanted to watch them kick arse. These movies and people are already out there. How bout you watch them rather than bitching that movies about white people that were made largely by white people, have white people in them. Was my enjoyment of Ong Bak increased by the white people awkwardly jammed into it who couldn’t act or fight? Not really.

  • Surely making Iron Fist an Asian would just be propogating a stereotype of it’s a martial artist super hero, so he must be asian.

    Making him white is diversity in action.
    It’s chuck norris vs bruce lee.

    I’m not even sure if I’m being sarcastic or not!

  • Calm down. We havent seen the show yet.

    You have valid points, but they could skew the story so that it makes sense, and even uses the point that he is white to highlight the very issues you are describing. A privileged white person thrown into a foreign culture, a person who goes through a drastic change in his personal view from his little rich white bubble.

    Of course, they could just do the comics, and then you would be 100% correct. But dont be so quick to judge what is, at the moment, entirely in your imagination

  • please Rob Bricken, dont be butt-hurt that they may just look to the source material when casting. you yourself admitted “his comics debut in 1974, Danny Rand [is] a rich white kid”

    chill and enjoy that its being made at all; we should all just be hoping its quality like “Daredevil” and not “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D”

  • It’s 2016

    Huh, I honestly thought I could get through an article on this topic without someone banging the ‘It’s [current year] !’ drum.

  • So the actual character in the comics (Danny Rand) is white… and you don’t like that? Instead you wish this martial-artist superhero was Asian?
    Wow, anti-white AND forcing stereotypes? That’s double-racist.

    By your logic, shouldn’t we be pissed that Captain Boomerang in Suicide Squad is not Aboriginal?

        • I’m really just disappointed at how many green ticks you got. I expected better from the users here, honestly.

          • You can be disappointed, that is perfectly fine. I myself am grinning like an idiot at the fact that so many people found my satirical jab at a sensationalist article enjoyable enough to upvote, whether because they emphatically agree with what it states or because they get the joke.

  • Better idea, instead of race changing a character, why not bring an Asian character to the small screen?
    (Although personally, I’d rather see the black/latino Miles Morales in some form, he is a cool little guy)

  • Here’s the thing I find in Marvel’s current position of a rock and a hard place.

    Cast white guy for martial arts movie character = rasism

    Cast Asian American for martial arts movie character = stero typing and rasism

    Why not cast Matt Murdock’s partner as Asian or any other race? Hell why not cast Matt Murdock as a black guy? I think you’ve picked the wrong character to be waring on about cause you want a stereotypical Asian male in a martial arts show when you could have picked any other race or nationality to play the character other than white.

    I’ll watch the shit out of a black/Hispanic/female iron fist show for sure as long as it’s true to the character in essence.

  • So you reposted it on here because you wanted more of a shitstorm? screw it, i’ll take the bait.

    I seriously don’t see how a white person knowing martial arts is considered racist.

    Shouldn’t culture be shared?

    Iron Fist is a creation made from the love of Martial Arts in the 70’s, and a lot of the movies you mention are the same. Martial arts are fucking cool, everyone wants to be a sick karate master and Iron Fist was made to show kids that they can be martial arts master’s as well.

    Also, seeing as this is on a gaming website, Iron Fist was in Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3, a game made by Japanese people, the fact that he got in instead of other much more popular characters (seriously, no Cable, Psylocke, Venom, Doc Oc, etc.) means that they mustn’t have a problem with him.

    Also don’t forget, Luke Cage is getting his own show, and he was great in Jessica Jones so i can’t wait for him to get his own show, and he started off as a pretty racist character in the comics.

    Finally, has anyone seen the show yet? no, for all we know he could have a completely new back story that’s a little less problematic, but still keeping his original concept in tact, i have complete faith that they are aware of what could be wrong with the character and will respect the nationalities he is adopting with the utmost respect.

    Edit: Oh boy i must have skipped over the part where you got angry that Dr.Strange was casted as a white guy, that is straight up delusional, the character isn’t taking any culture like your argument with Iron Fist, so there is literally no reason to change his race.

    • Articles like this bring the most clicks. These shitstorms probably get more attention than the rest of day’s articles combined! Probably!

    • there is literally no reason to change his race

      Ah, but by that same token, there’s no reason NOT to change his race.

      Which I don’t disagree with. But honestly, I’d prefer that kind of thing be decided by casting call. If a character’s race is truly, completely irrelevant, open the casting to literally everyone instead of putting “seeking 6’4″ square jawed blonde ubermensch” in all the advertisements, and let he best man win.

      • Fair point, there is no reason to not change his race, in Dr.Stranges case his race is entirely meaningless, but this guy takes it super personally that they didn’t give the role to a POC when there is no precedent for this character to be one, why did he NEED to be a POC like this author suggests, when as you said, the race is meaningless?

        They did it to Nick Fury, and that worked out really well, but that was because Sam Jackson is a terrific actor and can pull it off, and i think Benedict Cumberbatch will be a really great fit for the weird and wonderful Dr.Strange.

        If they chose another race for the actor, as long as they where the right choice and do a good job then i wouldn’t give a shit what race they are, but if they chose an actor solely based on their race then thats not good enough.

        instead of putting “seeking 6’4″ square jawed blonde ubermensch” in all the advertisements, and let he best man win.

        But that depends on the role, in the case of Dr.Strange i’d agree, race doesn’t define that character, but for Iron Fist it does, as many people have pointed out, instead of the story being about “really good asian martial artist” it has the potential to be about “White rich asshole learns humility by becoming a great martial artist” which is a far more interesting story.

        Also sometimes it is completely necessary to cast by race, you couldn’t have the lead character of 12 years a slave being played by Channing Tatum, or Monsieur Candie from Django Unchained being played by Ice Cube (sorry for both examples being from movies about slavery, it’s late so cut me some slack).

        I agree that anyone should be able to do any role within reason, this situation that the author of this article is talking about is not one of them as it completely changes the dynamic of the character. Does Iron Fist need a bit of a rewrite of his backstory from its original 70’s version? yeah i’d say so, and the Netflix MCU guys have done a great job with Daredevil and Jessica Jones so i expect the same for Iron Fist.

  • I fail to see the point of changing a pre existing character’s race, for political agenda. If the best actor for job is a different colour/race, like Samuel L Jackson as Nick Furry i’m all for it. But if changing Iron fist to an Asian, just because Hollywood has a history of changing Asian, Egyptian, Native American etc characters into whites that is just tit for tat bullshit and will not effect any real change. Just my opinion.

    • When Marvel reimagined the Marvel universe for their “Ultimate” line, they intentionally changed Nick Fury to look like Samuel L Jackson. When the movies came around, Jackson felt honored to do the role that was based on him.

      • While I was aware that they had changed Nick to look like Samuel L Jackson. I thought the movie role came first, & then the comic character to suit. Cheers for the knowledge.

        • The Ultimate universe was set up in roughly 2000/2002, and is a great read. I highly recommend it. Since it’s a whole new universe (as opposed to a reboot), you don’t really need to have any background knowledge on any characters to read it. It fleshes out it’s characters more in my opinion, changes them (again, for the better imo), and last I checked when it kills characters off, they stay dead (though I haven’t read it in a few years, so…)

          • Not that I read a whole lot, but Ultimate was my favourite comic universe. It was a shame that they killed off Peter, established Miles as Spiderman, only to bring Peter back and inexplicably end the universe a short time later.

            I’m still reeling from the fact they literally destroyed the multiverse the way they did. All that history, every single story from Marvel’s start until last year all ended the same way.

          • I uh… I haven’t read that far in either universe. I’m trying to read through the main universe at the moment to get up to the end of the multiverse…

          • I have the full Ultimate Spider-Man (Peter Parker version) run in trade paperback form. It’s the only series I’ve ever collected in that format. I still reread it at least once a year. Probably some of the best storytelling and world building in comic books ever

      • Honoured? No, as part of the deal to use his likeness, he made sure to get an agreement he’d play the character if they ever did a movie.

  • It all just depends on which way you want to look at diversity. Whilst it would be considered fair to point out how so few of the headline characters in the MCU are non-white, you could also look at portrayal of martial arts in general. I mean, at least 90% of martial-artists you see in movies and TV happen to be Asian, which may be for obvious reasons (the cultural origins of martial arts), but it wouldn’t be very diversity-focused to expect every martial-artist you see in movies or TV to be Asian.

    Also, as we are talking in the context of a Marvel TV series, it’s worth mentioning that whilst the article is being critical of how long it is taking Marvel to have a non-white or female lead movie (fair points), it completely failed to point out how Marvel has already produced Agent Carter and Jessica Jones series on TV and are also in-production of a Luke Cage series right now too.

    • Don’t Forget Black Panther is showing up literally in the next Marvel movie coming out, and he’ll be getting his own movie later.

      • Not to mention Baron Mordo, is now played by Chiwotel Eijiofor in Dr Strange, a prominent role played by a prominent actor. Let’s also consider that Luke Cage is getting his own series as stated by Sidewaysm, that it will focus heavily on african american culture too as stated BY its own star and the production crew.

        Let’s also look at how Falcon has become a prominent Avenger, taking his first kickass role in Winter Soldier and NOT being a bit player, but an equally kickass character. His part in Civil War will no doubt be just as impacting given the Russos have stated categorically he’s an important player.

        Black Panther plays a big part in Civil War and the Avengers going forward, infact he’s going to be very central to the MCU apparently.

        Scarlett Johanssen has proven herself across multiple movies to be extremely capable and an equal to any and every Avenger, I agree its about time she got her own movie, but still, she’s there, she’s never underused and she’s awesome.

        Oh and Wasp is so anticipated Antman 2 is called ANTMAN & WASP.

        Diversity is coming to the MCU, it’s being introduced pretty damn well. noone denies there was a shit balance to begin with but it’s correcting its course appropriately and not shoehorning, it’s doing it properly. DC has already done it properly out the starting gate and I give them full credit for it with Cyborg, Wonderwoman, Aquaman and Black Adam and once Marvel saw they had an issue they’ve gone *great guns* in correcting it too. I mean Captain Marvel is a AAA property of theirs heavily anticipated too, Carol Danvers will be no small role to fill and to value.

        Sorry I’m just frustrated with this article, I’m gonna go pull hair out of my already balding head…

        • Don’t worry man i feel the same, i wanted to write way more in my other comment on here but had to hold myself back.

          I also forgot that Samuel L. Jackson is an example of character’s races being changed, but it was solely based on Sam Jacksons talented acting that even Marvel comics agreed that Black Nick Fury is the best. It’s why if they did make Iron Fist an Asian american, i wouldn’t have cared as long as he was the right actor for the job, but this guys argument is solely based on “it should be asian because he does martial arts” and that’s it.

          The MCU has been pretty diverse from the start.

          • Agreed 100%. If they made Danny Rand half chinese half American I wouldn’t rage, I wouldn’t honestly care, but the reasoning here is as bad as “I don’t want him to be chinese or half chinese, he’s white because you know, he’s white so he should be white!”

  • Why race change an existing character? Just adapt or create a new asian character if diversity is the goal

    • Or use one of the many, many pre-existing asian characters in the MCU. There’s quite a few!!!

  • Best multi-racial casting was I Spy with Bill Cosby (cough) as the coach and Robert Culp as his protege.

  • The focus shouldn’t be on skin colour, rather the skills, availability and price of the actor.
    Making him black just for the sake of it would be a really dumb decision.

  • Also don’t forget Luke Cage in Jessica Jones is black. I’m not saying there can’t be more, but there hasn’t been a single reason other than just because.

  • Jesus christ did you even consider passing this article along to someone else before you pressed publish???

  • Taking this article seriously gives it more credibility than it deserves. A character that is white in the comics is also white in a TV show. There’s no compelling reason to change his race, and some good reasons to maintain story and character integrity. What exactly is the problem? If you want more characters of (insert ethnicity here) then create something new yourself. Don’t just hitch your agenda to someone else’s creation and call it ‘the right thing to do’. I find it arrogant and self righteous (because you presume to speak for others but in a vague and unquantified way) , and deliberately selective thinking (because you’re not considering the people who care about the character as it is).

    I also wanted to note that I am not an iron fist fan. I also considered noting my own ethnicity but I don’t think it should have any bearing on the discussion.

  • There was very clearly a right choice here

    Judging by the reactions from other users.

    No, there really wasn’t clearly a right choice.

    • There was very clearly a right choice here… just not the article authors delusional choice

  • “Yes, it’s true that the comics character Iron Fist is white, and thus it is indeed technically accurate for a white guy to play the role on TV. But technical accuracy does not equate “the right thing”, for lack of a better term.”

    What the actual f**k did I just read?

    I’m sorry, the editor let this shit get published?

  • I’m not a fan of them changing the core of characters. Changing race usually does change personality too. Personally I’ve come to like the black Nick Fury. But he’s nothing like the REAL Nick Fury. And if I was a Nick Fury fan I’d be pretty disappointed because its a different character with the name of the character I like.

    • I too like “old warhorse” Nick Fury, but they did try to explain away the Samuel L Jackson version as his son, which works for me with NF1’s age and WWII/Howling Commandos.

    • Well, as a Nick Fury fan who started reading the Ultimate Universe, to me Samuel L Jackson *is* the real Nick Fury, and old white Nick Fury doesn’t feel like the REAL Nick Fury to me

  • Hmm.. I think I’ma just watch the show and see if it’s good before I figure one way or the other.

  • Since it was reposted, I’ll also repost my thoughts.

    I think that progress moving forward must come in the form of new content rather than half-correcting apologetically the old properties. We have to live with the fact that good people in the past, creators, inventors, thinkers, etc. had some wrong ideas, fruit of their zeitgeist, such as subtle racism, cultural appropriation, sexism and the such which informed their creative output. I believe that we have as much right to blame them for it as we have the right to try to alter their work to fit with our modern ideas, which is, very little.

    I’m not racist at all (I’m not even white) but I think the inclusion of Idris Elba as Heimdall in the Thor movies was absurd in every possible way. Not only the original comic character was white, but the whole mythology he and the other characters in those stories were based in was as white as you can get. Forcing a person of colour in that role reeked of tokenism, of quota-filling and of keeping appearances. Imagine if they cast a white guy as Anansi in a movie based on African mythology. How bad would that be? Why is it not bad to do it the other way to satisfy a bunch of people’s white guilt and self-righteousness?

    Same with Iron Fist. Why would you alter something established through decades, even if the original inception was motivated by non-ideal beliefs? It’s not like Marvel has not been doing the responsible thing and creating totally new characters that are believably and honestly meant to be culturally inclusive, like Kamala Khan and Miles Morales. Let the people who have enjoyed the character of Iron Fist for years get a good interpretation without trying to group them with racists or without implying that Marvel was lazy and that the choice was an easy and automatic one.

  • Diversity isn’t a quota, or it shouldn’t be.

    So, if diversity isn’t a quota, why are you upset that Danny is white? They shouldn’t have to make him Asian or Black or Hispanic. After all, they shouldn’t have to fill a diversity quota.

  • What’s with the white shame? Danny Rand has been a white guy since being created in 1974. Who are you to come along 42 years later and say that he shouldn’t be? The Marvel Universe is a big place, and if you are so frickin’ upset that a white actor is portraying a white character, then maybe you should ask them to do a tv show on Shang Chi, Master of Kung Fu, instead of Iron Fist.

    At the end of the day, it comes down to respecting the material and respecting those hard core fans. If you are going to change things, you better have a DAMN good reason. It also usually doesn’t work. Movie Green Goblin, Dr Doom, Sentinels, Apocalypse, Human Torch, etc.

  • To this day I think Kurt Russell would have been the best Nick Fury, I love Samuel L Jackson but I didn’t get them feels. Great actor though and I’m busting to see them both in Hateful 8………..much excite 🙂

  • I’m going to admit up front that I’m not really a comic book reader (with a few exceptions),so I know absolutely nothing about this comic book or character. That said, I cannot for the life of me imagine how casting a white actor to play a white character is an issue?

    If we want to see more diversity, surely we should be calling on Marvel to create more non-white comic book heroes and then adapt those with racially correct casting? Not having a go at them for casting actors of the same race as existing characters?

    Although Marvel did do a series based on Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series. The main character in that series (original books and the comic books) was white and they’ve cast a black man in that role, so if you’re really desperate you could regard that as somebody somewhere throwing you a bone.

  • What a load of shit Kotaku!! Its a fictional character for starters, so who gives a shit they can make him Indian for all it matters. Secondly, have you forgotten what they did with Nick Fury, was always a white character, now he’s black in the movies. or how about Johnny Storm in the FF movie, was always a white character, now they have used a black actor. I personally don’t care what color the skin of the actor portraying these characters are as long as they stay true to the core of what they are about.

  • Based on how the previous Hells Kitchen based Marvel TV series have gone, particularly Jessica Jones, I’d be willing to wager that that racial tension might in fact become a story point. There’s certainly some interesting angles they could take that.

    They could even potentially work the two sister properties of Iron Fist and Luke Cage from different angles of race issues as they stand in modern day America.

  • I wonder if in India they are arguing about how white folk need to be represented more in Bollywood films. Probs not huh?

    • White people have at no point been used as slaves in India and in fact enjoyed a more superior place in society than a vast majority of indigenous people did in theit own country.
      That’s why your comparison doesn’t work.

      • My point is that we are only considering western television and cinema. Consider for a second all the other countries around the world that aren’t predominantly white and what their tv shows and cinema are like and see if they are clamouring to get more caucasians on their screens to be seen as being culturally sensitive. It’s doubtful.

  • Diversity for diversities sake doesn’t do anyone, any good.

    Yes, it’s true that the comics character Iron Fist is white, and thus it is indeed technically accurate for a white guy to play the role on TV. But technical accuracy does not equate “the right thing”, for lack of a better term. Because as with so many superheroes, there is nothing about the character of Iron Fist that requires him to be played by a white person. Nothing. It is fundamental to no aspect of his personality, his origin, his powers.

    Seriously, what the hell is the point here? If nothing about the character requires him to be white, then why do you feel it is a requirement for him to be something other than white. Fans of this character have waited forever to see him in live action and I am sure these same fans vary in race. I bet you they are happy to see him come to life from the comic book, while hyper progressive folks who could give a crap about Iron Fist before the Netflix deal are just looking for something new to zero in on.

  • Bogus reaction all around. Should Shang-Chi master of Kung Fu be played by a white actor instead? Just a fair trade right across the board. Danny Rand= Asian, Shang-Chi = white. Done like dinner.

  • You get a H1A for hyberbole. I feel like I should have just skipped university and just pretend I know how to articulate a point like this guy.

  • Danny Rand might be white, but there’s still strong supporting roles in Lei Kung, Nu-An, Davos; not to mention any other K’un Lun residents that Marvel add to the story. The whole project allows for high employment of Asian actors.

    IMO, Marvel Studios first decree should be to the fans; without them, Marvel wouldn’t exist. So if Marvel weren’t able to fill your diversity quota today because they cast a white guy in a character that’s was created white (and never been retconned as anything else); GOOD.

    It keeps fans happy, of which I am one.

    Also, if you aren’t a fan of the character, don’t own a single issue of an Iron Fist comic, or don’t know who those characters I’ve listed at the start are: here’s something from us to you…

    Stop trying to fuck over our hobby.

    P.S: And just because it will be easy to paint me as some racist, while neckbeard or whatever; bring on Miles Morales, Kamala Khan, Jane Foster, kid Nova, Sam Wilson’s Cap and all the other diverse 2015 creations! Seriously, I want female Thor (not sure if Natalie Portman can pull it off though).

      • Comic book collectors; comic collecting is known to be a hobby. To me and others I know, the films are an extension of that hobby.

        That OK with you pal?

        edit: oh you trolled everyone’s comment you didn’t agree with, my bad (wanker)

  • Your article is bad and promotes a racist agenda and you should feel bad. Just because you’re Asian doesn’t make you the karate kid.

    As an Australian of middle eastern and beautiful Saxon stock descent, and since Shem in the bible was given the job of populating what is Asia, my inner almost but not quite at all Asian is offended. You’ve insulted me on many levels.

    Fuck the children, will somebody please think of the mixed race?

  • The last marvel show we got was Jessica Jones. One of the upcoming ones is Power Man, or whatever they call it. Marvel is unquestionably committed to diversity.

    This whole article is “I’m offended by the cultural appropriation of the Iron Fist origin, so they should change the character.” What’s even the point of using Iron Fist in that case? Why not make a show around Shang Chi, Master of Kung Fu? Or Jimmy Woo and the Agents of Atlas? If you’re going to use Iron Fist you just have to roll with the character history; like Daredevil, he’s a white guy who was taught the secrets of martial arts. That IS the character.

  • Articles like these make me wonder why I still visit Kotaku. Shame on me!

    In this case, I think there’s nothing wrong with what they’ve done. The character Iron Fist, created in 1974, is and has always been Daniel “Danny” Rand, who is a rich white kid. A white guy knowing martial arts isn’t racist. Look at Ken from Street Fighter. I personally do judo, and that’s Japanese and I’m as white as the sun. Martial arts involves sharing the heritage and traditions of other cultures.

    Demanding that Iron Fist is to be Asian, when Asian people have been typically stereotyped in film to be kung fu maniacs… isn’t that in itself racist? Then complaining that Iron Fist is white (as the original character is)? That’s like… double racist. Racistception.

    Enough of these click bait articles, writers of Kotaku.

  • This is the most racist article I’ve read all week. Yes, let’s eliminate white males for no other reason than to insert other races, despite the portrayal being accurate.

    This is how genocides start. This “author” should be ashamed of himself and take a long, long look in the mirror.

  • It isn’t the Netflix series’ job to right racial inequality – its simply its job to adapt the comic book. End of story. *** I’m Asian, and was happy to see this casting. The truth is when Iron Fist was first published, it was during a time when Chinese culture was slowly becoming popular, and Chinese martial arts in particular was gaining a following. By writing a Caucasian character, discovering a culture/race not of his own, and embracing it, showed progressive thinking. Plus on a story-telling level, it allows for a ‘fish out of water’ context, which allows an audience to discover a new culture alongside the main character. Casting an Asian-American actor just to right some perceived wrongs would have been a greater insult IMO.

  • It actually really sucks that TV’s “Iron Fist” has no Martial Arts background to speak of. I don’t care what race you make him, I’m mostly just sick of watching god-awful fight scenes that waste my time.

    There are so many people who could have filled the role, even if you did want to stick with a Caucasian actor. Hell, I’d even take Taylor Lautner. Dude has skills.

  • With this line of thinking instead of having the falcon take Captain America’s shield and mantle it would’ve been better if they just cast a black actor as captain america in the movies; and screw the whole comic arc of making a female thor; just cast a female actor for thor and rewrite the character completely.

    Diversification doesn’t mean destroying existing characters for the sake of skin color or sex. It means creating some new icons that better represent the global population; case in point I am super excited for a Black Panther movie and a Luke Cage series two of my favourite characters. If Marvel decided to recast Black Panther as a white man people would be outraged; that same outrage should apply when recasting Danny Rand as an Asian dude. Diversity isn’t solved by removing white characters and replacing them with colored ones; this just creates a rift. It’s solved by creating genuinely interesting new characters.

    I normally resist making commentary like this but christ this article misses the whole damn point.

  • have you ever read the comic book origins of iron fist danny’s father grew up in ku’n lu’n he was adopted so dannys not stealing their culture you twit he is finishing his fathers work who also wanted to be the iron fist so go be racist some where else and leave comic book posts for actual readers

  • To be honest, I am glad that my fellow commenters seem to be sensible about this. Racism is not a one way street, and there is a difference between getting more diverse in our casting choices, and forcing a change in an established character to fit our preferred diversity vision. If Marvel had decided they wanted to change up Iron Fist, it fit the story/character, and the actor they chose was a good fit/good at what they do, then by all means go for it. Thats good. If Marvel decides to make a new character and decides they should be black/asian/whatever, then thats great too!

    What I object to is when you start saying that Marvel is wrong in taking this originally white character and casting a white actor to play him, when the only reason you want it to happen is to have a more diverse acting pool. They are not wrong in their decision, just as they would not be wrong in their decision to cast a non-white person and change the character. If it fits, and people enjoy it, then their decision was right.

    Also, if a character is of another race, and they change them to white, that doesnt make them wrong either. It may not be a good look in the eyes of many people when this happens, but these sorts of decisions need to be made based on best available talent for best value, rather than this character needs to be black/asian/whatever because there are too many whites or vice versa…

    • If Marvel had decided they wanted to change up Iron Fist, it fit the story/character, and the actor they chose was a good fit/good at what they do, then by all means go for it.

      Exactly.

      They didn’t *have* to go with Sam Jackson for Nick Fury, but he was a great fit, so they went for his Ultimates version.

      Baron Mordo being black now, played by Chiwotel Eijiofor, he’s a fantastic actor, a great screen presence and obviously a great fit, so they went for it.

      Unfortunately we also saw them stumble with the terrible representation of the Mandarin in Iron Man 3… which was later retconned. So not everything is perfect lol.

      I think one element the author misses in its entirety, isn’t that with over a half a dozen new comicbook movies plus coming out each year now, in order to survive ‘comicbook fatigue’ and thus eventually dwindling profits, the way forward to survive is *not* “how diverse can I get!” (although I do think diversity is a positive element in movies mind you when applied sensibly, but not overtly and radically), but to push forward with a wider range of new, creative exciting stories.

      • Definitely…I agree that diversity is a good thing, and its really easy with new characters because you have a blank canvas to work with.

        As for the Mandarin, they cant get it right all the time, but from my point of view Marvel get it right the majority of the time. All their movies make loads of money and they are well received so they must be doing something right…

  • I’m sorry but that’s absurd.
    Get angry if the character wasn’t white in the comics and they made him white on screen, and I’d even understand some frustration if it was a green lantern situation where there was a popular white AND black version yet the show picked the white version………however this isn’t the case here, the hero in the comics was white – it would be moronic as f—- and a pathetically transparent sympathy gesture to make him non-white.
    I don’t understand why other Minorities want sympathy gestures like that, it so pathetic imo…..I don’t want people making crap up and changing the truth to make me feel better. So tired of the PC culture……can’t wait for society here to completely reject it.

  • Better yet if you just keep his goddamn mask on it doesn’t matter what goddamn race he is.

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