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.
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.
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.