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.