Iron Fist

Marvel and Netflix are finally gearing up to get an Iron Fist series in the works after already having success with Jessica Jones and Daredevil. Iron Fist is different, however, because race-obsessed fans are already having ulcers over whether Danny Rand will be white (as he is in the comics), or Asian (because diversity!)

What makes the Iron Fist debate so great is that it showcases something that has been said on this blog repeatedly: The “social justice” crowd is never happy. Even attempts to appease them can be turned into an excuse to whine about a whole new set of issues.

If Iron Fist is white, then it’s a blow for diversity for diversity’s sake. If Iron Fist is Asian, then Marvel is somehow insulting Asians because he is a martial artist. Dealing with progressive entertainment fans is like willingly entering into a hellish Catch 22 Twilight Zone.

Vox reported (or was that Vox lamented?) Jan. 20:

On paper, Iron Fist’s origin story and the names, places, and symbolism associated with the character make him sound like a prominent Asian-American hero in the Marvel comic universe.

Instead, he’s a blond, green-eyed man named Danny Rand. And now there’s a movement to rewrite his comic book portrayal and make him Asian American when the character lands on Netflix in 2016. …

The fundamental thing to understand about Iron Fist is that he’s a conceptually flawed character; his origin story presents him as both a “white savior” and a “best Asian” figure. He’s a blond boy who travels to a pseudo-Asian land, where he trains as a martial artist and becomes the best fighter among an entire society of Asian people — so good that he takes down the baddest bad guys. There’s no reason why an Asian man or woman from K’un-L’un, someone who’s trained her whole life, couldn’t do what he does. Yet it’s the white Danny Rand who saves the day.

Next we have Albert Ching, managing editor at CBR, who wrote Dec. 9:

“[H]e’s defined by martial arts much more than other superheroes who just happen to use martial arts — and it’s problematic if that’s the first lead white comics character to be readily accepted on screen as played by an Asian-American.

The simple and most reasonable thing to do is to cast the role in a way that honors the source material. If for some reason Marvel cannot find a strong white actor who can actually meet the physical demands of the role, then producers should go with any American male who does. Danny Rand is an American at the end of the day, so good acting and solid martial arts skills should trump source-material race for this character.

Sounds logical, right? Not to the “social justice” crowd. They act as if they are in a constant struggle to understand racial formulas more complex than college-level calculus. Every solution poses another problem. Race is like an irrational number, where the never-ending string of decimals is represented with an infinite number of complaints.

If you want to give yourself ulcers fretting about “white saviors” and “best Asian figures,” then head on over to your favorite progressive website. If you want honest reviews that primarily focus on the craft of storytelling, then bookmark this blog and stop in on a regular basis. Daredevil’s second season, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist (white or Asian casting) will all be reviewed shortly after their release.

 

 

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About the Author Douglas Ernst

I'm a former Army guy who believes success comes through hard work, honesty, optimism, and perseverance. I believe seeing yourself as a victim creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. I believe in God. I'm a USC Trojan with an MA in Political Science from American University.

12 comments

  1. Like you said, it’s a catch-22 with the SJW clowns: if you make Iron Fist white, they’ll whine and moan about the “white savior.” If you make him Asian, they’ll say, “Why are you stereotyping Asians?” since he knows martial arts. You can’t win with these clowns. It’s best to ignore them and do your own thing.

    I’ve always found it funny how SJWs hate the so-called “white savior” trope so much. Never mind that the savior trope has been a part of human storytelling and even religions since the dawn of time. They’re okay with it when the savior isn’t white, but if said person is white they throw childish temper tantrums and scream about “racismcolonistprivilege” (one word).

    1. “If you make him Asian, they’ll say, ‘Why are you stereotyping Asians?’ since he knows martial arts.”

      My wife and I started watching kung-fu movies from China on the weekends since I started learning Mandarin. Maybe CBR’s Albert Ching should write an op-ed about why China’s ocean of martial arts films are “problematic.” 😉

    2. You forget Mr Ernst: It isn’t the product, but also the person who makes it:

      If a white man like Zwick directs the Last Samurai it is a clear case of colonialism and white savior complex, when Stephen Chow makes Kung Fu Hustle, it is a delightful parody of old tropes.

      Always wondered where the latest serie of Marco Polo stands. It does paint a picture of China and Mongolia where everybody and their mother knows Kung-fu, but it does have White Wonderbread Lorenzo Richelmy (yes i know he is Italian) as polo learning martial arts, but also getting his ass kicked by people like Tom Wu.

      Three other things about that article:

      I have never seen The Last Samurai as Superior White Man burden, but more as Superior Tom Cruise burden. The man is a great actor, but there is a recurring theme in his movies : Tome Cruise is worshipped and superior than everybody else in his movies (Oblivion, MI, The Last Samurai), Even in Tropic Thunder Cruise was superior than everybody else when playing a fat balding man.

      The article makes use of a Bruce Lee phote of Enter the Dragon. If there ever was a person who knew himself, who didn’t suffer from internal projection, it would be Bruce Lee.

      The use of examples like Idris Elba in Thor or Michael B Jordan show more of the danger than the merits of casting for colour.

      Elba in Thor has 4 scenes and ends up stealing that movie. I can’t wait for his version of Roland in the Dark Tower. Jordan is somebody who can act. His performance on Creed proves that, but he is wasted in FF.

      Look at the Kingpin, who do you remember: Michael Clarke Duncan, a man wasted in that movie, or Vincent D’Onofrio who is allowed to go all the way.

    3. “I have never seen The Last Samurai as Superior White Man burden, but more as Superior Tom Cruise burden.”

      Heh. That’s actually a very astute point. He is very good at picking movies that will make the most of his Tom Cruise-ness!

      You also make some good points on casting a character just to wedge in diversity for the sake of diversity.

      In terms of the Daredevil movie, I hear you on Michael Clarke Duncan being wasted, but I consider that whole movie to be wasted potential. It’s not as bad as some people make it out to be, but it could have been so much better. I enjoyed Duncan’s Kingpin quite a bit.

      Side note: You can call me Doug. No need to be formal. 🙂

    4. This is like complaining that “Tarzan of the Apes” should cast a monkey for the lead. But the give-an-inch/take-a-mile essence of this idiocy is that Iron Fist was a politically correct creation: in the comics he embraces an Asian culture, partners with a militant black superhero and loves a black woman with a prosthetic arm. And it’s not enough!

  2. SJW s also won’t accept that Marvel was publishing magazines in order to make money, so they created characters for the majority population. Same thing with their stupid fixation on Peter Parker being white. Peter is half-Irish, which was a mistreated immigrant minority at one time. But no, he’s white, that is all.

    1. We’re not allowed to mention how the Irish have been treated throughout history, Jack. Their miseries and heartaches do not count because these days they magically have “unearned privileges.” 😉

  3. This topic is one that constantly gets my blood boiling. I could go on for days, but I’ll try to keep it brief.

    I am 25% Mohawk, I am legit, on the rolls, the government considers me a minority. My grandfather was full, mom half. Our Native American heritage was a big part of growing up. I look white except for some typical Native American physical features.

    I always thought it would be cool to see a Native American comic hero worth reading and/or watching, but the lack thereof has never really bothered me. It has never in my life crossed my mind that an existing hero should be vacated to placate me. I want a character that stands on it’s own merits, not propped up by a mantle popularized by another character. When heroes are replaced for diversity it’s insulting.

    If they want an Asian hero show, make an Asian character, don’t steal from another character. Marvel can try and do something they have failed spectacularly at for the better part of the last 20 years, being creative.

    1. And Marvel can’t even print the original Shang-Chi series due to copyright reasons. His father was Fu-Manchu who they thought was in the public domain but actually isn’t and they lost the rights to the characters in the mid-1980s. That’s why Alan Moore had to refer to Fu-Manchu as the Devil Doctor in the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen comic (the movie is better) and when he appears in other works, he’s always using an alias so the author can get around copyright.

    2. I always thought it would be cool to see a Native American comic hero worth reading and/or watching, but the lack thereof has never really bothered me.

      That’s because you’re secure in your own skin. I look at the people who make these complains and for the most part see people who are emotionally frail. The “you’re white! You wouldn’t get what it feels like to be alienated,” reply always makes me laugh. I’ve been the only white guy who speaks zero Mandarin out plenty of parties, had one lady refuse to shake my hand because I was white, etc. The Bizarro “Social Justice” version of me would get bend out of shape, but the real me a.) sees people as spiritual beings, so race is an “eh” factor, and b.) interprets jerk-moves on another person’s part as an issue with them as opposed to an indicator of my own self-worth.

      When the Irish were discriminated against in Boston the had a solution — become the cops. Become the politicians. Likewise, if race-obsessed comic fans want more diversity, then they should become writers and crack into the industry. When the general rule of thumb for writers is to “write what you know,” then it’s not shocking that white guys would create white characters with backgrounds that mirror their own. That isn’t racist. That’s just reality.

      Anyway, feel free to vent on this issue anytime. I like when smart people add their two cents to the discussion. 🙂

  4. I just watched an interview of the showrunner of Jessica Jones partly about the show being picked up for a second season though Rosenburg stated she and the other writers are all liberal feminist you could see she was trying not to be overwhelmed by the two interviewers agenda. They clearly had never read a comic book before because the interviewers described Killgrave as the embodiment of white male privilege as we all know Killgrave is known as the PURPLE man and that is his skin color in the source material his skin color in the show was the natural result of not wanting the character looking ridiculous and fitting the grounded tone of the show as well as casting David Tennant which they always wanted not some political message that has lost all validity in the 21st century.

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