So in recent news, there was an uproar in the comic book world and on the internet about Netflix and Marvel casting Finn Jones as Iron Fist for the new Marvel Netflix series. Now, I know a lot of people are like, “Finn Jones…who is that?” If you don’t know, he is on Game of Thrones (one of my favorite shows) as Ser Loras Tyrell. If you know Jones from Game of thrones, then you already have a leg up on everyone. He also plays minor roles on British tv. But the problem that escalated over the last week is the fact that many people wanted Iron Fist to be played by an Asian American and not a white actor. If you do not know the story of Iron Fist I suggest you read it thoroughly. But for those lacking in time, I’ll give a summary…
Danny Rand Aka Iron Fist comes from a wealthy family who takes an adventure with his family to a distant land in Asia. Danny is 9 years old when his parents die on the trip with him being left there. He is then taken in and trained by a group of very skilled Martial Artists, and eventually becomes one of the top martial artists, himself.
Now, the trouble a lot of people have with this story is that, this seems like “The Last Samurai” movie and the “Marco Polo” series on Netflix that clearly missed the mark on casting, where the white man is the savior of the movie and he ends up getting all the credit. While all the people of color in the movie die by his (White savior) hand, and he beats up all the Asian characters. Even Marvel writer, Marjorie Liu said that “Iron Fist is an orientalist white man yellow fever narrative, an Asian actor would have helped subvert that offensive trope and reclaim space.” With that being said, I cannot fully argue against her since she’s a Marvel writer and has most likely done her research…but what this really makes me realize is that Finn Jones being white isn’t the problem. Someone helped put this in perspective for me. Even if an Asian actor got casted but was an unknown Asian actor, people would still say “who is that?” When they could’ve easily casted Daniel Wu who has done an amazing Job with “Into the Badlands” or even Ki Hong Lee from “The Maze Runner”
I think the main problem is that people want to see more People of Color on screen. It’s not that he’s white, people just want to see diversity. Because if you fully get into the Iron Fist story, Danny Rand completely and utterly respects the Asian culture to the fullest and he knows he is an Outsider, I have not fully gotten into his story, but every cartoon or anything I see Iron Fist in, he’s a very down to earth character who is kind of dorky, but is amazingly strong who respects martial arts, and his masters. I think many people were also very blinded by everything Marvel has been doing lately with making Moon Girl a black girl, and also redoing Captain America and making Falcon become the new Cap, and then how Marvel did the comicbook Hip Hop albums. So I think everyone expected Marvel to go the route of a diverse character instead of looking at the dynamic of the character and relationship with Luke Cage and Iron Fist.
Don’t get me wrong, I am tired of seeing white actors in all of the Marvel movies and want to see more leads for people of color, but my other point I am trying to make is, why does everything that has to do with martial arts have to be contributed to an Asian actor. There are so many Asian actors who have had lead roles, like Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Donnie Yen, Tony Jaa, and even Ming Na Wen in Agents of S.H.I.EL.D…and she is amazing in that show. But the thing about it, and no offense to movie and tv show watchers , the average person probably hasn’t seen the movies with Donnie Yen, and Tony Jaa . They only know of Jet Li, and Jackie Chan, and they haven’t made a movie in a long time. So I think many people want a new Asian actor we can all fall in love with, bringing a new face of color to the forefront, and not have a white man learning martial arts and acting as if he owns this fighting style. I think that’s what a lot of people think Iron Fist will be about.
But why do we have to only use Asian Actors when it comes to Martial Arts? Is it because we believe every Asian knows how to fight or secretly knows Martial Arts, or is it mainly because we just want diversity and has nothing to do with if Finn Jones being a white blonde man with blue eyes? Or do people really believe that if an Asian American actor was to be put in this predicament that all we would have to worry about is if he can act?
Lastly, every person Marvel and Netflix has casted for these roles have been on point. I knew of Charlie Cox because of boardwalk Empire. At first I didn’t recognize him, and then I got overly amped that it was him. Then the woman who plays Jessica Jones, I’ve only seen her maybe once or twice in Breaking Bad and another show so I was intrigued to see how she would do, and then Mike Colter as Luke Cage was probably the person I was amped up for the most. I just recently finished seeing him in this Halo movie series and enjoyed it, so I’ve been waiting to see the Luke cage series. Finn Jones I’ve only seen in Game of Thrones, and I’m very intrigued to see how he adapts to this role, especially with all the backlash.
I have no problem with Iron Fist being a white man because he is originally a white comic book character, and his dynamic with Luke Cage is very important to the Marvel comics. I do understand, being a black man, that we truly need to have more people of color on TV and in movies but I would like to say lets give people of color different roles; Asians, blacks and Latinos always seem to get the same roles. I think that’s why I have no problem with the casting of Finn Jones because I want to see us have different roles…like Constance Wu of “Fresh Off the Boat” explained. We want more people of color to write stories for people of color, not just white writers writing what they think would fit a character who is black or latino. Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge fan of martial arts’ movies, but I don’t always want to see an Asian person playing that stereotypical role, I want to see them own a business in a movie and be the head of an elite group or something more then what we see.So all in all I have no problem with this casting, I just hope Finn Jones doesn’t disappoint and does a good job, and hopefully we see a defenders Netflix series soon.