Marvel Television

Marvel, Please Cast an Asian American Iron Fist

[UPDATE: Our friends at 18Million Rising have crafted a petition to get Marvel/Netflix to cast an Asian American Iron Fist.]

[UPDATE 2: I talk more about Marvel Studios considering an Asian American Iron Fist with Andrew Wheeler over at ComicsAlliance.]

Yes, I am proposing that a major comic book institution change the race of one of its popular characters as it transitions to a new form of media. In this case, I want Marvel Studios to cast an Asian American actor to play the lead in the upcoming Iron Fist show it is developing for Netflix. It seems logical enough to me, though as always, there are fans who are urging Marvel to resist changing his race.

Now, I know the topic of cross-racial casting has come up time and time again here at The Nerds of Color. And while there are a contingent of fans who don’t think such things matter — or worse, are vehemently opposed to such casting choices — I can’t help thinking that Iron Fist gives Marvel a chance to add even more diversity to its interconnected cinematic universe. Not to mention that this is a case where changing the race of the character has the potential to actually add layers of depth to the story of said character.

First, let’s get a couple of misconceptions out of the way. My call for an Asian American Iron Fist is not meant to displace Danny Rand from the story. It is, in fact, the opposite. In my mind, casting a young Asian American in the lead role does nothing to change his classic origin: He can still be the son of a wealthy businessman. He can still  accompany his family on an expedition to seek out K’un L’un. He can still train under Lei Kung, the Thunderer. He can still seek revenge against the man who killed his father. Danny being Asian American precludes none of these things.

What does change, however, in making Danny non-white is that it removes the white savior syndrome of the original story. In the comics, it turns out Danny is the most gifted student Lei Kung had ever trained. Because of course he is. For all the fans who might decry an Iron Fist racebend, do you really want yet another white-guy-is-better-at-being-Asian-than-the-Asians story? But if Danny is Asian American, the scenes of him embracing the ways of K’un-L’un can be viewed through the lens of cultural re-connection. In fact, I’d play up Danny’s rejection of his Asian heritage prior to venturing to China. I know as someone who similarly connected to my cultural heritage later in life, that story would be deeply resonant to me. And you know what would be really dope? If the writers also played up the actual Kunlun Mountains of Chinese mythology on the show.

It also helps that with essentially a Heroes for Hire show on the horizon, appearances by the Daughters of the Dragon, Colleen Wing and Misty Knight, can’t be that far behind either. If that happens, it’ll be nice to see the romance between Rand and Knight played out on screen as an Asian male/black female relationship. There hasn’t been one of those on television since John Cho and Gabrielle Union played a married couple on the short-lived ABC show Fast Forward.

And who can’t get behind that?

There’s also the other argument that says making Iron Fist Asian American is unnecessary because we already have Shang Chi. Well, to that I say, white folk already have Captain America, Thor, Spider-Man, Iron Man, the Hulk, Wolverine, Daredevil… I mean, I can keep going.

Also, while Shang Chi is cool and everything, his inclusion in the  Marvel Cinematic Universe won’t increase the number of Asian Americans because Shang’s from China, after all. Plus, he doesn’t have superpowers. Or shoes.

Speaking of China, it seems that some folks think that cross-racialily casting Iron Fist is a crass pander to the ever-growing Chinese consumer base. My wanting Asian American representation in the Iron Fist character has nothing to do with the marketing demographics of a billion people on the other side of the world. (Also, I don’t think there’s any proof that the Chinese really care how Asian actors are portrayed in American movies anyway). Instead, I want the Marvel Cinematic Universe to reflect the demographics of the real world as much as possible. The Defenders shows on Netflix — with Luke Cage and Jessica Jones representing — is a step in the right direction. But I feel that diversity is all for naught if yet another blue-eyed blonde superhero takes center stage.

I mean, aren’t these guys enough?


  1. I would like to see that happen, give them a taste of their own medicine but I am pessimistic. They don’t give a fuck about us.

    1. Stay true to the character or the series will flop. Iron Fist happens to be a white hero, respect that. I would not be interested in Shang Chi being portrayed by a white actor if he were to get a live-action deal or Luke Cage as white because they would not at all feel like legit versions of those characters. Any true fan of Iron Fist wants the character to be portrayed accurately. Ethnicity is a defining characteristic, the cultures are simply not the same & are not interchangeable to fit the whims of people with no true respect for who that character is.

      1. So you have a problem with Will Smith Being dead shot? Or Michael B Jordan playing torch?

      2. Are you actually hearing yourself? Most of the things- and this should be taken with a grain of salt, as I haven’t read any of the Iron Fist comics- that appear to be integral to Danny Rand’s origin story are interchangeable. Rich families, etc. are not confined to any one ethnic group. Plus, as outlined above, the changes that would have to be made would be minimal, and would actually fix a lot of problematic elements.

    2. Why do Asians immigrate to the USA and then demand we treat them like they’ve always been here and been integral to our culture?

      It’s like the white minority in Japan whining about Japanese treating them as foreigners (I remember reading they actually had protests against what they perceived as racism in Japan). They are not native to Japan originally, the fact there are white people in Japan does not mean Japan is suddenly no longer Japanese and must accommodate 1% of the population.

      1. Without Asians, your country would be behind every other 3rd world country. Straight up ignant.

  2. It really would be great to see such a bold change in the casting of a superhero. I’m kind of worried that they’ll just play it safe because they think a protagonist won’t be as “easy to relate to” if they’re not white. Which, when you think about it, is kind of a multi-racial slap in face to anyone and everyone who enjoys films and television.

    1. Gareth fricking moron, Asians are 3% of the USA! If anything Asians are holding us back!

  3. Keith, your proposal for an Asian American Iron Fist reminds me of David E. Kelley’s insane Wonder Woman pilot, where mixing Diana Prince’s multiple personas proved too much for popular consumption. While I’m glad you state that changing Danny Rand’s race requires a new character history and new motivations for becoming a superhero, it’s not clear to me from this post how you’d handle alienating the core Iron Fist audience, meager though it may be.

    It’s funny – when Michael B. Jordan was first rumored to portray Johnny Storm, people fell over themselves to assert that nothing fundamental about Johnny Storm would have to change. I wrote posts that argued the obvious: changing the race of a superhero necessitates changing his or her history, character, and motivations for superheroism. After that’s done, we end up with a different character altogether, and if that work is not attempted, we end up with meaningless melanin, a cheap palette swap that obscures progress.

    Keith, I’m glad you see my point on changing character history with race, but I’d wish you re-evaluate my further point that these racebend-induced alterations make superhero cross-racial casting unviable. When racial tribalists shout that comic media diversity should include people of color on screen as superheroes, racebending characters is never the optimum method for that goal. In this case, Danny Rand’s cultural appropriation, a basic element of his character for decades, would disappear in favor of some amorphous cultural re-connection that, while mildly interesting, has nothing to do with the rank Orientalism at the heart of Iron Fist.

    Put another way, if some progressive comic fans want to turn the Defenders into the United Colors of Marvel, have fun. But a comic industry that respected nerds of color wouldn’t shoehorn race and culture into historically White superheroes for the love of demographics and ratings.

    1. wow you are patronizing. do you think it was appropriate to cast Guy Pierce as the Mandarin? yet they did it anyway but you would only have something to say if it was a white character that was being altered.

      1. Except that Guy Pierce wasn’t the real Mandarin. He had none of the powers and none of the actual association with the actual character’s history and backstory. He was a conventional terrorist doing conventional terrorist things.

    2. I know right, what if player 2 in Excitebike was red and player 1 was blue, that changes the whole dynamic of the game.

    3. Totally off sir. There’s nothing about being Asian American that precludes the possibility or orientalizing Eastern cultures or appropriating Asianness. Your post commits one of the most basic fallacies in the humanities: you are presuming that the “Other” can’t regard some other Other as its own Other. You regard Asian-Americanness as first and foremost a type of Asianness, and regard Asianness as a thing unto itself that is perpetually different from whiteness. And you don’t seem to recognize that whiteness is not an ethnicity, but a construction by which other groups become non-white ethnicities.

      1. White is an ethnicity in fact. Your attempt to say otherwise shows that you want to erase the white American people to justify displacing their culture.

    4. How does one’s ethnicity change one’s motivation for superheroism or heroism period? Do all white superheros have the same motivation for putting on spandex and going into battle? How does Hal Jordan’s motivation differ from the Hispanic Kyle Rayner’s? Iron Fist never should have been white in the first place. Another instance of whitewashing. He’s a white guy living an Asian guy’s life.

  4. “In this case, Danny Rand’s cultural appropriation, a basic element of his character for decades, would disappear in favor of some amorphous cultural re-connection that, while mildly interesting, has nothing to do with the rank Orientalism at the heart of Iron Fist.”

    But that’s the point. I actually want to remove the cultural appropriation from the story. I mean, why would I want to continue propagating “the rank Orientalism at the heart of Iron Fist?”

    Also, who cares about “alienating the core Iron Fist audience” anyway? David already talked about those fans, and I’ll just echo his point; namely, that they aren’t important. Why do I need to cater to their feelings? Especially in a post that is nothing more than a wishlist anyway.

      1. They need to cater to the world. Why would you assume that ridding a story of its orientalism only serves the feelings of Asians? Orientalism is sad and stupid for Western civilization and “white” ethnicities as well.

        *And* by the way it ISN’T the case that refiguring the character as Asian-American would require purging the story of its issues around appropriation. That whole line of reasoning is ridiculous. It would be fascinating to see and Asian-American character’s tendencies to identify with and simultaneously exoticize aspects of Asian identity. And it wouldn’t boring and daft as a senseless recapitulation of all the old crap.

    1. I am an absolute stalwart against changing things from CB canon simply because of the history those characters have and there is literally no need to change them especially to black skinned characters, basically because we have plenty (or at least enough-ish) black characters in Marvel to use (who actually have valued written history).
      However (and this is a first) I would concede on this point regarding Iron Fist, simply because A) There are no Asian heroes in the Avengers ranks or core Marvel heroes at all and B) Everything about Iron Fist is Oriental/ Asian except his blonde hair.
      Basically if you can’t get Marvel to make Iron Fist an Asian character simply put, no other Marvel hero has any shot at it as they don’t have Asian heritage backgrounds at all unlike in the Mutant/ X-Men world.

      …… Good luck with your efforts.

    2. Holy shit, you’re a dick, I’m a minority and I’m not for changing Iron Fist. The Human torch could be changed because his superhero origin has nothing to do with his background. Iron Fist is way different, if you make him Asian, the Iron Fist story will just be another Asian Kung-Fu story, with Danny Rand that boring same old element is gone. If you want an Asian martial artist in Marvel read Shang-Chi, oh wait, you don’t actually read comics, you only watch the movies and TV and know nothing about the actual universe, like everyone else who chimes in.

      1. What’s boring and same old is the White Savior trope. Another instance of the White guy going into a foreign land and being the best at the native’s culture attributes. Tarzan king of the AFRICAN jungle. The Phantom. Please!

  5. If you take out the Orientalism, if you remove the cultural appropriation, it’s no longer Iron Fist. Sorry. I find that stuff disgusting too, but that’s the character. It’s like suggesting a Captain America series that recasts Cap as a member of the 442nd Infantry Regiment before the super soldier serum injection.

    I think a Nisei Captain America screaming “Go for Broke!” as he beat up the Red Skull would be completely awesome, especially if his character focused on the internal struggle of fighting for a nation than interned his family. But that’s not Steve Rogers. That’s not Cap. Cap is a blond haired, blue-eyed White conservative, unfamiliar with modern concepts like integration. As cool an idea as a Nisei Captain American would be, that’s not the recognizable property Marvel could sell a public eager to revel in childhood nostalgia while watching a live action movie or television pilot. The suggestion that those fans who want to see what they grew up reading on screen aren’t important is a position I disagree with. Their movie tickets and television habits fuel Marvel Studios.

    But more importantly, racebending known White superhero properties distracts from the amazing work done by indie comic creators. If I want an Asian American superhero on screen, there are plenty of concepts in the Secret Identities anthologies worth revisiting. (I’m partial to “Push”, myself.) People pay less attention to the indie comics from minority creators when they’re told that the next Marvel movie or TV show should hire an Asian American to portray a martial arts prodigy. Wasn’t Melinda May enough?

    You want to see an Asian American superhero? Ask Marvel to spend some of that Netflix deal money on new distribution for indie minority comics. That’s a wishlist we could all agree with.

    1. You don’t have to take out orientalism and appropriation to make him an Asian-American character. Complicating his identity would just make those issues more interesting. I can’t believe how many people on this page seem to think that you can’t have an interesting story about someone non-white struggling with internalized white perceptions of Asianness or of ethnicity in general. Isn’t it obvious that an Asian-American hero could consider Asian culture remote and foreign? Our immigrant cultures worldwide , and especially in the West, are saturated with cultural mythologies. This is a non-issue.

      1. Ben Leeds Carson – Keith Chow suggested that removing the cultural appropriation themes from Danny Rand fit his interpretation of an Asian American Iron Fist. Obviously that’s not necessary to pen scripts for a Chinese American Danny Rand, but we were debating Keith’s original idea from his post.

        That being said, Keith’s original idea was and is really silly. I’m not sure why turning Iron Fist into Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior would be fun for anyone to watch; I certainly wouldn’t waste the time. But even if people didn’t want to change anything about Danny Rand but his race, the idea of changing Danny Rand into an Asian American does not respect, in my mind, the particular cultural and political narratives associated with Asian Americans today.

        My melanin can’t be swapped onto or removed from a character like a ratty t-shirt. Either making Danny Rand Asian American is meaningful, and would require the character re-thinking that Keith Chow alluded to in his proposal, or it’s totally meaningless, in which race in America is as important as hair color. Either treatment ignores the particular racial history the normally socially clueless and wealthy Danny Rand exhibits once he operates as a superhero in urban NYC. Certainly an Asian American can display the same cluelessness as a blonde blue-eyed superhero, but it’s fair to assume that others’ reactions to his cluenessness would be and should be different were his race to change.

        Replacing all that history for the political correctness “benefit” of showing yet another Asian male martial artist on-screen, while ignoring the less visible but much more important diversity problem with the abysmal lack of comic creators of color in the mainstream comic industry is not activism. It’s stupidity masquerading as forward thinking. Disney would be foolish to follow Keith’s advice, and what’s really sad is that the more Danny Rand is promoted, the less we discuss indie comics like Boxers and Saints or Indigo: Hit List 2.0.

      2. Hello J. Lamb, and thank you for the comment—you’re a lot more knowledgable than I am either on the original comic, or on race in America; I’m a white cultural studies professor focusing on popular music.

        “Certainly an Asian American can display the same cluelessness as a blonde blue-eyed superhero, but it’s fair to assume that others’ reactions to his cluenessness would be and should be different were his race to change… Replacing all that history for the political correctness “benefit” of showing yet another Asian male martial artist…”

        I agree, but that’s not the only benefit. The chief benefit I see is precisely in this “would be and should be different,” which could be activist and powerful if it were taken up imaginatively. I just want people to imagine characters of color who have complex, rather than simple, relationships with race in America and its meanings. This seemed like an opportunity for that, but I don’t know.

        “… while ignoring the less visible but much more important diversity problem with the abysmal lack of comic creators of color in the mainstream comic industry is not activism.”

        I completely agree…although I never said anything about ignoring.

        I’m kind of an eclectic comics reader. Like you, I have deeper criticism of the genre etc. than for any individual working in it.

        That’s why my first post to this thread was, effectively, “Great, sounds cool to mess with the original story… BUT… how about also not having so many stories where social problems like crime and corruption are handled artificially and implausibly through conflicts between extraordinary individuals. In other words, how about less of what every Marvel Comic is. [Shields head with forearms, flees room.]”

        I’m impressed by your knowledge of the material and of this problem in general … and I apologize if I’ve rushed in stumbling to a conversation I don’t fully understand!

      3. benleedscarson – First, thanks for your comments! I’ve enjoyed the nuance you’ve brought to this discussion.

        “I just want people to imagine characters of color who have complex, rather than simple, relationships with race in America and its meanings.” – ben leeds carson

        I think we all want this. This, I hope, is everyone’s end goal in the discussion. This is the reason that I oppose cross-racial casting so strongly – I’m most likely to find characters of color with complex and layered interactions with race in America in comics when I read indie works from minority writers. I don’t believe it’s impossible to find White writers who convey race issues with nuance and depth; Frank Miller’s Give Me Liberty attests to that well enough. But I contend that if comic audiences want meaningful minority portrayals, its high time those audiences clamor for more opportunities from comic artists and writers of color.

        Cross-racial casting does not assist that goal in any way.

        And no Mr. Carson, you did not advocate ignoring minority comic creators. I further contend that Mr. Chow’s focus on mainstream comic properties, Disney’s Iron Fist in this case, generate buzz around mainstream properties that do not need the p.r. and distract from the support for comics from minority creators. 18 Million Rising didn’t generate a petition to ask Marvel to make a Boxers and Saints movie. The support Mr. Chow found for his Iron Fist proposal does not translate into further visibility for works like his own Secret Identities anthologies, a massive missed opportunity.

        Frankly, I agree with you. We don’t need more comic media that forgoes diplomacy and promotes violence. I appreciate your compliments, but I’m just a guy that reads comics, just like you. There are no experts here, just people defending their views. I thank you for sharing yours.

  6. It’s a bold idea, but I’m sure the fanboys would go crazy over it. I think using a white character tapped into the wish that many had at the time that they could become the next Bruce Lee without the racial background. It is a stereotype of the “White Guy Saving the Day” but we’re probably stuck with it for now.

  7. While I do know better than to read the random naysaying comments after a well written article, I can never resist and walk away. I find it fascinating how comfortably people will say it’s not racism to be so adamantly opposed to fictional character adjustment in order to reflect a better world.

    If Iron Fist was introduced in the 70’s, the vietnam war was happening, civil rights movement was in full swing, international political ideology reframing and protest was happening world-wide by masses of people for a more just and humane world. Since the limited insight of racism plagues everything around us, are they saying we should accept the very narrow lens of creatives that centralized their whiteness, as if people of color were peripheral, insignificant? So our “post racial” friends can recreate their idyllic terrain of white character landscapes, because “that was the way it was written” without having to carry the responsibility of their love for this whitewashed ongoing racist narrative?

    With comics starting in the 1930’s:
    – only a decade before japanese internment
    – in the midst of segregation/lynching/sharecropping and the early formations of the PIC
    – business signs and housing contracts and the overall racist power structures blatantly said “no Black people, no Chinese, no dogs” as a common everyday practice (they didn’t necessarily say it that politically correct tho)
    – etc….

    So if there is going to continue to be this contingency of “don’t change anything from the past in a way that is less racist and f’d up, because we are so fond of the past” mentality- then let’s have some historical accuracy around what white culture during that glory comic hey-day past really looked like. Oh- but wait, they want to see white centrality minus accurate portrayals of white supremacist institutionalized culture. Cause then there would have to be comics full of white lynch mobs, white gunmen assassinating leaders that are fighting for human rights, chain gangs, genocidal war tactics, etc… oh- but wait comics are FICTION and not real, they’re just for fun. But see, white supremacist institutionalized ideology vomiting all over modern day blockbusters, is all about that history.

    Stories can and do change, when people want to imagine something different. Clearly, some want to hold onto the racist past without wanting to accept the racist implications of their nostalgia. Sorry complainers, that the world majority is interested in big budget action flicks that do not support white supremacist ideologies of acceptable cultural appropriation and massive cloaks of invisibility being placed over all non-white people. Because internationally marketed, big budget releases are seen by hundreds of millions, we MUST think about the wider implications.

    As people of color, we often have to temper our comments, so we don’t appear “aggressive” as fighters for justice…. But, when do the masses of white comic/pop culture fans start talking amongst themselves and say, “Hey, when we do this, (insert a variety of things here, like: protesting there being any positive deep meaningful representation of people of color in comic/movie adaptations) we look like international a-holes. We don’t want to be a-holes, and go back to that rancid racist past or recreate and reinforce it in out present. Let’s do better.”

    1. 1) People of color were and are “peripheral, insignificant” to superhero comic narratives then and now. Racebending Iron Fist does nothing to change that dynamic. I’d certainly applaud more real-world historical accuracy in mainstream Marvel Comics, but Keith’s proposal does not argue for historical accuracy in the source material. Saying that Keith’s detractors “want to see white centrality minus accurate portrayals of white supremacist institutionalized culture” is inaccurate and wrong. A compelling take on Danny Rand would centralize Rand’s cultural appropriation on-screen, but that requires a White Danny Rand, not Keith’s ill-considered proposal.

      Keith seeks more visibility for Asian Americans through the proposed Netflix Iron Fist casting, when that show will require a tighter respect for the comic source material as is in order to attract viewers. But again, for those interested in discarding decades of reflected White supremacy in comics: adding another Asian martial artist to pop culture does nothing to change that, however well intended.

      2) Marvel’s The Avengers made a billion dollars in the worldwide box office. A billion dollars. Sorry Good Sis, but saying that “that the world majority is interested in big budget action flicks that do not support white supremacist ideologies of acceptable cultural appropriation and massive cloaks of invisibility being placed over all non-white people” is just wrong. The worldwide box office supported Marvel’s White protagonist poster child to the tune of a billion dollars.

      People who want to improve minority representation in superhero comics must contend with the fact that the planet doesn’t yet care to ignore White male power fantasies from blockbuster comic media, and that changing a White superhero’s race is more complicated than a casting call.

  8. So all Asians do know Kung Fu? You know at the time Iron fist was created it was still considered taboo for any martial artist in Asia to teach someone their craft outside their own race. Bruce Lee did and started a movement. One of the things I have always liked best about the story of Iron Fist is that it is of a boy, an outsider, who found family and was trained to be the man he is by a surrogate father ,Lei Kung the Thunderer . Danny(Iron Fist)even replaced as a son the dishonored and exiled son of Lei Kung’s, the Steel Serpent. Showing that blood relation alone does not make family. Iron fist- the story of family found. Of a Chinese man raising a white man to be consequential to any in his path. Goes against the negative flat type you describe in your column.

    1. Wrong there kid, that doesn’t undo the problematic aspects of Danny’s character

  9. This is Marvel, of course they will get it wrong. All Asian-Americans should abandon comic books. Read manga, idiots!

  10. Marvel is all sorts of stupid. I mean they are changing up one of the Fantastic Four Characters and he’s going to be Black! Talk about change in spectrum!

  11. You know the only ones who will cry foul if and Asian American actor was cast as Iron Fist…the fanatical fan boys. Those who didn’t grow up reading comics would care less as long as it was portrayed successfully. That is the audience studios should appeal to not the tiny vocal comic fan boys who only see things drawn within the black box they’ve become accustomed to.

    I’m in my early 40s and grew up reading comics and know the history of the character very well. I agree that if film studios want to bring these character to life on screen they need to retain the integrity of the characters. I’ve always been “drawn” to the character of Iron Fist. I remember the first time I discovered the character(junior high, probably 13 or 14 years old) and learning his history and thinking to myself “wait so this guy isn’t Asian…? He was raised in a place called K’un Lun, he was raised by a guy named Yu-Ti, and trained by a guy named Lei Kung, he holds the power of Shou-Lao, but he’s not Asian…?

    It was obvious to me from the start that the creators of the character, in order to appeal to its audience, which was made up of mainly young white boys/men, made Iron Fist a white male. He was introduced at the height of the popularity of marital arts, when Bruce Lee made kung fu cool. Iron Fist got all that cool kung fu swagger without being that “otherness” than white kids couldn’t relate to.

    If the writers and producers want to introduce a believable marital arts superhero from a mystical Asian city, trained by mystical Asian Masters, and endowed with power from a mystical Asian dragon then Iron Fist should probably be Asian.

    1. Danny’s (Iron Fist) father Wendell( an orphan) actually became the adopted son of the Emperor of K’un L’un, Lord Tuan. His father, Wendell Rand, having left K’un L’un and became a successful business man in the states wanted to return to his adopted father and share with him his wealth and family. On the trip Danny’s parents died before reaching the gates of K’un L’un , the hidden city. The Emperor Tuan grieved took in his cracker grandson and had him apprenticed to Lei Kung. Danny Rand becomes his greatest student and a surrogate son, replacing the exiled Steel Serpent. So yeah ,it makes sense that this cracker became Iron Fist. And the fact that at the time of its creation like I said non Asians were not known to practice the martial arts. And it was a white creator who created him after becoming interested in kung fu cinema. Asians dominate all form of media when you compare them the world over. More Asian film companies more imported and exported Asian comics(Manga). More Asian cartoons. Calling this book a white wash is racist. If you want more Asian comic book super heroes, create them don’t demand an existing character be changed for a sense/ sensation of racial camaraderie. Doubt anybody will read this post either.

  12. Marvel cast white character Nick Fury with Samuel Jackson. Then they cast Johnny Storm with Michael b. Jordan who’s suppose to be Sue Storm(played by Mara Rooney she’s white) brother . But marvel can’t cast a asian actor for a character who’s orgins is all Asian?!? You all saw what happed to the live action movie Akita when they white washed it…

  13. Isn’t it kinda racial stereotyping, though, to have the martial arts guy be Asian? Like, if Iron Fist was an entirely new character, and was introduced in a movie, played by an Asian guy, wouldn’t some people’s reaction be “Oh, of course. The Asian superhero is a Kung Fu guy. Could we *not* be ninjas, kung fu fighters, and samurai? For once?”

    Also, I’m not sure if making him Asian necessarily adds depth to the character, at least for non-Asian viewers. With a white Danny Rand, I think for many viewers there’d be more of a tendency to wonder how he wound up with such an unusual background for a white guy. With an Asian Danny Rand, I think (unfortunately) for a lot of people his race alone will answer that question.

    1. To be clear: I’m saying I think it would work better if an Asian actor were cast for a role that wasn’t the kind of role Asian actors often get.

      An Asian American Luke Cage and a African American Iron Fist would be more interesting than an African American Luke Cage and an Asian American Iron Fist, which is basically two stereotypes (big black inner city man, and Asian martial arts guy).

      1. When the majority of superheroes on screen are white and especially the important ones, I don’t believe it’s the correct time to worry about stereotypical backgrounds if the characters are presented as human beings and not just racial tropes.

    2. Having an Asian character know martial arts isn’t racist in of itself slick, it’s how it’s done.

  14. Totally agree. But also, maybe not so many stories where the address of social and systemic problems like crime and corruption all boil down to a conflict between ultra-extraordinary individuals. So in other words not so much of what every Marvel Comic is. [Shields head with forearms, flees room…]

  15. There are alot of +/-‘s of an Asian American IronFist, at the end of the day MCU-Nick Fury is black and it’s OK. The optimist in me hopes America (I’m talking mid-west) is ready for it.

  16. ALSO following the logic of “Why don’t you simply create a new character instead of changing a pre existing one”? Why make Fury black, when Sam Jackson could’ve been GW Bridges instead or a new original leader for SHIELD, bc Nick Fury= Director of SHIELD and eye patch done. Most Marvel movies aren’t frame for frame copies from their comic counterparts. Just as if handled in the right scope, Danny doesn’t necessarily have to be White (if it even has to be Danny Rand under the mask) we ARE talking about a B-list hero here not Superman.

  17. If Marvel can cast Michael B. Jordan as the previously very white & blonde Johnny Storm – and sister to a still very white Sue Storm (Kate Mara), they should be equally able to cast an Asian-American as Danny Rand.

    As a very white guy, myself, I can where having Danny be Asian-American would deepen aspects of the story and would definitely want to see that. Just sayin’…

  18. The Bronze Age classicist was immediately against this (I have all the original issues of Iron Fist as well as the Marvel Premiere issues that he was introduced in!), but your points were well made. Even as a tremendous fan, I myself always had trouble with the “white savior” angle. If they don’t go the Asian-American route, then it would be cool if Shang-Chi were at least a recurring character.

  19. RE: Making Iron Fist an Asian-American,

    1. Asian-American knows kung fu sterotype. Do we really want that?

    2. Why not make Daredevil Asian-American?That would be less stereotypical and much higher profile.

    1. 1) Knowing Kung Fun isn’t a bad thing

      2) Daredevil knows Kung Fu too and fights ninjas. What the hell was your point there?

  20. Ahem. Because Idris Elba as HEIMDALL, a NORSE god completely buggered the Thor storyli… no wait. Didn’t affect it at all, did it?

    And when you look at the YELLOW mask with the ROUND eye… no wait. Those eyes ain’t round.

    No reason why Iron Fist can’t be Asian. Oh, and I had the idea of Spider-Man being black LONG before Miles Morales (there was a dancer in an 80’smovie that I thought was PERFECT for the role – I should sue…).

  21. Maybe we should redo “Enter The Dragon” with a Caucasian? Oh, I know, let’s do “Gone With The Wind” with an entire Asian American cast!

    I know you mean well, but you are being both asinine and ridiculous. Here’s an idea: write something new instead of trying to rewrite something that already exists.

  22. Michael clearly you have a problem with diversity. This is a minority website. You should stick to your white power forums.

  23. Why must we change a character to make him more modern? Why are we not inventing new characters that fit the modern world? The stuff DC is doing with Cyborg (and Marvel with Luke Cage) right now is stunning. Let’s take actual no-white characters and push them into the forefront. Co-opting an existing character is not the answer.

    The mantle can be the same but change the character. Why take Danny Rand and make him Asian, when you can just as easily take Iron Fist and make the man under the mask Asian American?

    An Asian American Iron Fist struggling to balance his native country’s culture and his destiny’s/forefather’s culture is truly interesting. That isn’t really Danny Rand though. It is similar but fundamentally different; and vastly more interesting too.

  24. Okay, I wanna say I understand the why’s, supporting one’s own ethnicity, equal rights in general. There may be plenty of reason for why this could/should work, however there are just as many if not more to appose it. If we look at everything of Danny Rand’s history, every page written and some of what I will say has already been touched on and maybe some of it hasn’t. I’ll probably end up throwing in some psychology here as well.

    Wendell Rand was a white Orphan in Nepal that was rescued by Orson Randall, a surrogate father/mentor type deal whom he wants to grow up to be. If Danny is an Asian American, it stands good chance that his father was Asian, and from Nepal, and probably spoke very little English. He looked up to Orson, probably wanting to be him. Every kid has their heroes till they grow up to be their hero or the hero has died either figuratively or literally. I don’t think you wantt a young Asian/Asian American boy becoming a young man looking up to a white man and when the Asian/Asian American boy leaves his tutelage ultimately fails at the task he left for and years later puts his family in danger because he’s obsessed and deranged. If you’re gonna tell the Iron fist story you gotta do the whole thing, not just the good parts. I know you want to Asian American roles out there, I do too but what you’ve got here, it’s just not well thought out.

    After a young Asian or even Asian American Wendell Rand flee’s Kun Lun in much the same fashion that Orson Randall does, he goes to New York for what? This now young Asian American Man thinks himself a failure and possibly a coward with only the knowledge that if he has a son, his son will be the next Iron Fist. Which later leads to what can be interpreted as an Asian/Asian American father riding his son too hard with his own disappointments.

    Moving on, Danny is met with a larger degree of apprehension than normal because the previous Iron Fist was white and failed to be Kun Lun’s champion, (we can throw that white savior gimmick out the window here as one white guy already fucked it up) when he begins to train. Interesting fact about Orson, however minor a role Orson Randall played in the Iron Fist series the ripple it created is bigger than most know. Orson had a daughter with blue eyes that no one knew about except for her telling “blue eyes” and was punished for the crimes of her father to guard the gateway between earth and Kun Lun for the corrupt Yu Ti. In this scenario we have a half white girl that would have never been punished if not for the fact that she is obviously the daughter of the only white man in Kun Lun at the time.

    When Danny comes back to the states, he is not a non-racist cracker who knows Kung-Fu and knows nothing of the American plight, he is a non-racist Gook and knows nothing of the American plight, (PC for the time period is all I’m expressing here). He would have faced more stereotypes leading him to probably believe white people are the enemy of Kun Lun it self.

    His friendship with Luke would have to be written differently as well, instead of Luke lightly joking with him about being white acting Asian in Luke’s eyes, now what does he make fun of? How Asian this Asian American is acting. I’m not saying this is all their friendship has consisted of but my point with all this is an Asian American Iron Fist requires a rewrite of 40 years and the money including inflation it cost to get the character this far without basically doing a cheap knock off.

    These are only some of the reasons why Iron Fist’s canon should not be changed, the character as he progresses moves away from that stereotype that so many of us hate. Hell the current series is not of an Asian American Iron Fist “reconnecting” with his roots, it’s of a white Iron Fist as close to people who look just like him as possible living a rich playboy life unfulfilled and failing the people he’s supposed to protect, he is white and in America and about as close to his true heritage as can be and fails on his responsibilities and fails the man who was like his father and looks nothing like him, this leaves Kun Lun in smoldering ash. The story of Danny Rand has moved well past white champion, and into the realm of bitter drama. A Danny Rand “reconnected” with his heritage couldn’t offer that kind of writing. It would also seem moot for an Asian American Danny to be reacquainted with his Asian side only to forget about it later. Defeats the purpose of the argument, hard to place an Actor on a hollow background is my point here.

    Off the topic of IF and on to race and Luke Cage and posters who’ve inadvertently slammed Marvel for writing the way they have in the past. If you want to read about how conscious Marvel was about race and war back in the hayday then read X-men; Xavier=MLK, Magneto=Malcom X. The reason why Marvel is so successful is because they knew how to write for Americans in general! Not just for their white readers, the more some of you bash Marvel the more you look like bigots yourselves who haven’t thought about what your posting for other than to add your voice to the multitudes of people screaming nothing calculated with reasoning and when garbled together just looks like unintelligible hate and slander directed at a another race. Well we’ve all seen what that has gotten us.

    Example for how Marvel keeps up with the times. Luke Cage started off as a Criminal given a second chance and now completely breaking the stereotypes of black men leaving their “baby mama’s” and not being there for their kids. Also I’m pretty sure Marvel published the first comic gay marriage.

    Lastly for Kieth, I can’t imagine you’re a true fan of comics yet alone Iron Fist if you would so blatantly throw away other writers work or try to give the public a knock off. Writers who I’m sure have inspired you at least some in your writing career. The fact that you flat out said you don’t give a shit about other Iron Fist fans appreciation of the canon as is implicates that you, yourself, feel slighted and feel like you have to lash out. There are plenty of Asian, Hispanic and African American readers out there that understand Iron Fist is more than Kung-Fu gimmicky background, ugly spandex, a black friend and a black girlfriend. Which, publicly was coming into it’s own in 70’s at the same time as the kung fu craze and an Asian American man with a black woman wouldn’t have caught the reader’s eye as much. An Asian American Danny Rand would have gone through different struggles as well, to beat a dead horse, he’d be a different person and story all together. Perhaps not even as compelling as it is now…

    1. Rob you fail to notice the most important thing about this site. This is Nerds of color not nerds of white fans boys delight. Your rant falls on deaf ears, or shall I say blind eyes. Welcome to Nerds of Color.

      1. Sarcasm doesn’t help anyone’s argument. I find it crazy that so many people refuse or are unable to view the matter objectively. This site may have been intended for people who are non white to express their views on popular culture in regards to scifi and fantasy genres but that doesn’t mean anyone should belittle white people or characters in roles or the creative work of those who have come before them. I’m just as disappointed with Disney for saying they are going to erase the officialness of all the canon created by Star Wars novelists for the past 30 years (basically making all those books useless). My point is, and especially with some of these very negative views of anyone white in this industry or their white fans, is that their is nothing wrong with the fiction or the characters or the fans of those characters. None of them have offended anyone as they are strictly tales of heroism and fiction that many people have enjoyed for decades and those who are broken on the inside only see through a red lens and place their problems in every aspect of their lives including the fiction they read, it leads to no solution but more problems. There may not be such a thing by definition of racism in the dictionary applying from any other race towards white people in the states but it certainly exists in spirit and people need to wake up if they want more popular colored characters and actors. Behavior like what’s been spoken on this thread towards anyone who disagrees with their ideas here are no different than those who spoke against abolishing slavery. No open minds leads to no open doors. I could say so much more this is all that’s really needed, an open mind.

    2. Rob you miss a point. This is Nerds of Color not nerds of white delight. Your rant falls of deaf ears or rather bind eyes. Welcome to Nerd of COLOR.

  25. I find it interesting that people scream White Washing when Disney announces they will cast a caucasian in the lead role of Platinum Studios ” The weapon” . Then they turn around and claim diversity when they ask that a Caucasian role like Danny Rand AKA Iron Fist be changed to be Asian American.

  26. chesnut so Dragon Ball Z and The Last Airbender was…..? You sound like Marvel’s PR guy. Did you see what kind of PR the producers of Akira got for trying to go the route of Dragon Ball Z? That will be the same kind of PR the Iron Fist will get.

  27. You could argue that putting an Asian American actor into a role previously seen as occupied by a non-Asian is simply another form of cultural appropriation, since from the non-Asian community / fan base standpoint, that’s what you are doing – appropriating “their” cultural property.

    I’d argue for creating “our” own characters & putting them out there – this is harder but then who said it would be easy ?

    Let’s appropriate their culture for a change and not always play the submissive role of being the “culturally appropriated”…

  28. I’m a nerd of color (Frist generation African american,my mom is a native of the Efik Nigerian tribe) and I’m I’m fine with Danny remaining white if they cast him as such, it’s the character as he was written and if they wish to portray him as such then i’d be fine.

    However I’d like present something interesting that is something of a progressive step without making people who like these characters as white feel like it’s attack/take over. Instead of making a character who is of a certain ethnicity/gender into something else,make a new character in their place who is different other than being the same character but X. This works especially well with The Iron fist as it’s a title pass down by those who are chosen by Shou-Lao the undying.

    Great examples of this are characters like Isaiah Bradley who isn’t just Steve Rogers but black, but a unique character who fits the captain America role. Other characters like this are Jessica Drew, Miles Morales, Lia Nelson(Tangent Flash), Tangent Green Lantern(Who is possibly but never confirmed to be one of several people), Victor Alverez(The second power man) among many others.

    I’d petition more for a new Iron fist that is Asian American(who can possibly be introduced in comics later on).

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