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Marvel’s Iron Fist Under Fire for a Variety of Cultural Issues

by Madison Cooper

Marvel’s new Netflix series Iron Fist has recently come under fire for being accused of whitewashing.

Recently, Marvel’s Iron Fist was released on Netflix and although it did receive plenty of positive reviews it also had a multitude of negative ones. These negative reviews were mainly centered around the fact that it’s main character, Danny Rand, is white. Now you could argue that as being no surprise considering in the original comics Danny Rand’s comic book character is book character is white and that dates back to 1974 when the character first appeared in the Marvel universe.

However, many fans of Marvel comics have argued, and rightfully so that an Asian- American Danny Rand would make a much more complex character opposed to some rich white guy that seemingly always saves the day, considering the white savior character is pretty played out, and that issue alone doesn’t even touch the amount of orientalism and culture appropriation that goes on in the show.

To make matters worse, the creator of the show, Roy Thomas commented on the issue in an interview with Inverse in a less than sympathetic manner, stating “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.” [1] Thomas’ ignorance to the situation is in some parts baffling but at the same time predictable.

From the creator’s perspective it’s understandable how irritating it may be to be labeled as a white washing racist when in turn you are just trying to do your job, but understand this: Asian-Americans only make up 1% of Hollywood’s leading roles. [2] So, when Asian- Americans consistently are not seen in leading roles, or even roles in general it limits opportunity for those aspiring Asian/Asian American actors, for example casting Scarlett Johansson, a white woman in the new film Ghost in the Shell, or Mickey Rooney as Mr.Yunioshi in 1960s Breakfast at Tiffany’s (which as blantly stereoptical and racist), and even Netflix’s new series adaptation of the popular anime Death Note.

Failing to cast Asian actors and actresses in Asian roles narrows the scope as to how other ethnicities may see Asians/Asian Americans as well a completely disregards the millions of stories needed to be told through the eyes of Asians/Asian-Americans. Long story short representation matters and if Marvel can make Spiderman black for both a T.V show and a comic book series it doesn’t seem so far fetched to make Danny Rand an Asian character if it ultimately results in more representation.



[1] http://nextshark.com/iron-fist-co-creator-roy-thomas-racist-trash-llag/

[2] http://www.teenvogue.com/story/asian-representation-in-hollywood