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Netflix’s Iron Fist has found its Danny Rand, and unsurprisingly, he’s going to be white.
According to EW, Finn Jones (Ser Loras Tyrell in Game of Thrones) has been cast as the martial arts master in the upcoming series. The premiere season of the show is expected to be released in 2017, and it will be the last Marvel-Netflix series to debut before The Defenders crossover event.
After the campaign for an Asian-American Iron Fist gained so much traction and visibility, it’s hard not to be disappointed by this news. Then again, Marvel was involved and the safe bet was made. What did we honestly expect? Now, I understand that the idea of Marvel’s first Asian hero being the “martial arts guy” isn’t exactly ideal, but he could have been more than just another Asian stereotype if he was given the same level of care as Jessica Jones, Matt Murdock, or Luke Cage.
Also, if not now, then when? CBR‘s Albert Ching was “troubl[ed]” that Iron Fist was “the only superhero” to receive so much support for casting an Asian-American actor, but I think the reason for this was that it actually seemed like a possibility (or at least, the one with the best chance). Don’t ask for a Middle-Eastern Spider-Man. Don’t ask for a Latino Daredevil. Ask for the guy who interacts so directly with Asian culture to be — you know — Asian.
I realize that Danny is white in the comics, but given that he gains his powers in a mystical Asian city while practicing its traditions (with his only tie to the area being that his father brought him there), the character appropriates Asian heritage. As a result, having an Asian-American actor play him would have been a great way to “reclaim space” in an otherwise “orientalist-white-man-yellow-fever narrative,” as Marjorie Liu put it. Not only that, but Danny being white isn’t even an integral part of his character. As Mike Williams of US Gamer pointed out, “Danny Rand’s origin as Iron Fist only requires him to be an outsider from K’un L’un. He simply has to stand out in their culture, to lack their customs.” This fact led to many writers, including HitFix‘s Donna Dickens, proposing that Danny could have been a 2nd or 3rd generation Asian-American disconnected from his culture.
I’m sure Iron Fist will engage with the discussion of diversity and try to shake off its “white savior” baggage. I’m sure the series will make Danny one of several Immortal Weapons so that he isn’t “better than all Asians at something that [has] been part of their culture for centuries.” But who knows when another major Marvel character will be up for the Asian ticket?
Shame, shame, Marvel.
Featured image via MoviePilot.