We all know Marvel and Netflix passed on the opportunity to cast an Asian American actor in the role of Danny Rand on their upcoming Iron Fist series. Still, that didn’t prevent artist Alison Roberts from illustrating what Danny might have looked like as an Asian American.

dannyAlison, who happens to be related to our very own Jenn of Reappropriate, had the following to say about the #AAIronFist movement and how it inspired her to create these pieces:

To me, a mixed Asian person who has lived in both Asia and the US, navigating that issue of identity and how to find where you belong has always been a struggle that resonated deeply with me. With #AAIronFist, and within a story that could depict a Danny Rand grappling with and coming to terms with his heritage, I saw an opportunity to bring that struggle to mainstream audiences in a way that could reach out to people like me and say: you’re not alone. You’re not the only one who might not know how to fully communicate with your family, who might be immediately characterized as “other” no matter where you go, who might feel like you’re wearing a mask whether you’re in the States or in China.

danny face

And beyond the personal, making Danny Asian American or mixed is just a more interesting take on the story — Marvel has so many heroes that look exactly like Danny does that they even lampshade it in the comics. It’s a joke. As an artist, I feel like there was a lot of potential here that got passed over.

If you enjoy Alison’s work, follow her on tumblr to find more Iron Fist sketches and check our her professional portfolio as well.

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7 thoughts on “#AAIronFist Fan Art by Alison Roberts

  1. I’m still trying to figure out how an Asian Iron Fist isn’t a racist trope in itself. It would be like having a black hero who performs magic and is called “Brother Voodoo”…waitaminute….:-)

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    1. Key to the argument is Asian-AMERICAN… see Keith Chow’s article on Shang-Chi for highlighting the difference:
      “People forget, but the main reason I wrote the initial post (almost two years ago to the date, natch) was because I wanted to see, for once, an Asian *American* play a heroic lead in a superhero property. Here’s hoping that Netflix will go with the Ultimate Comics origin of Shang-Chi and make him an immigrant living in Chinatown, but for all intents and purposes, Shang-Chi is foreign-born, and one stereotype that Asian Americans *everywhere* must contend with is the notion that we are all perpetual foreigners. Anyone who has ever been asked “where are you really from” know what I’m talking about.”

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    2. It’s only racist if that’s his only quality and I’m sure it isn’t. Batman is a rich man who inherited money that is also very intelligent and fights crime, just like Tony Stark, and Oliver Queen, and not that different from Mr. Fantastic.

      All these white men with super intelligence dressing up in spandex or metal suits deciding to fight crime.
      Why isn’t that a stereotype? Even better if they lost a parent or parental figure as a child.

      What’s wrong with an Asian knowing martial arts? They invented it. If they created a villain from Ireland who called himself St. Patty who wielded bladed shamrocks, no one would say a word about stereotypes. Anything to defend cultural appropriation.

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  2. Beautiful work. I really do wish there were more nuanced, strong Asian males (and females) in pop culture. It’s a shame they passed on the opportunity.

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  3. Ok, first of all, the art is cool and it looks good. I think the story of Danny Rand as Asian American could be a cool idea. Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, please don’t kill me for being a voice of dissent to this idea.
    I love the idea of multi-cultural characters. I love that Marvel is making a big turn in diversity in their comics, and I believe, eventually on screen. I agree that we need more role models of multiple colors etc… My opinion is this though, don’t change the race of a character because you can. Create a new character. A character with a backstory tailored to their racial/lifestyle struggles.
    A great example is Miles Morales. Yes he is Spider-Man, but he is a new Spider-Man with a real backstory. Miles Morales is not a rubber stamp with out of place skin color. It feels genuine.

    Guys, I get it. The thing is here that it’s over. Can we start talking about other ways to bring Asians into comics, TV, & Movies?

    No hate here, just ready to talk about something that might actually happen.

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    1. Very few new characters click. I’d also argue that “borrowing” a white character’s name and/or powers is not a better way to diversify comics.
      Miles Morales will always be the Black -Latino Spiderman. John Stewart is the Black Green Lantern. Just like Lady Thor, Black Captain America, and Muslim Ms.Marvel. I much prefer what DC did with Wally West, they made him biracial.

      The white Iron Fist is not something I’m ready to move on from.

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