Finn Jones was cast as Iron Fist and the debate on the choice has bubbled up even more. I knew they were going to cast a white guy. Thats not what bothers me. What bothers me is that, if K’Un-L’Un were based on real Asian myths and legends-it would be CULTURAL APPROPRIATION. No ‘if’ ‘ands’ or ‘buts’. Literally it would be a white character steeped in something that culturally has nothing to do with them. As it is, Iron Fist is steeped in Asian aesthetic. That is only a mark improvement over appropriation. Its like that annoying white dude with tattoos of Chinese symbols, watches a lot of anime, dressed in Asian fashions and thinks they are some sort of honorary Asian because they may have a bunch of Asian friends. Of course there are a lot of people who discount appropriation as a real thing. People who believe its a tribute and nothing more. “Those wacky SJWs making stuff up, its a tribute.” The same people who are mad Native Americans don’t like the Washington redskins, or annoyed when a minority raises issues with a white model dressed in cultural garb for a photo shoot. Look, Iron Fist is a tribute to Kung Fu no doubt. The original comic series, is actually really good. It doesn’t change that the character uses Asian mysticism as a prop. I haven’t kept up with a lot of the character but I don’t remember much substantial parts for Asian characters in the original series.
On top of which-Marvel has been pretty awful with Asian representation in comics and outside. Look at the films and shows from the MCU. Marvel studios white washed Mandarin and the Ancient One. Why? They viewed them as problematic but instead of fixing the characters they chose to white wash them. There was also Claudia Kim in Age of Ultron, whose part was small. The Hand, Yakuza, and Triad bad guys in Daredevil. Daisy Johnson is their most well done Asian character and its a character who, as far as I can find, not originally Asian. Its unknown to me if Marvel Studios actually knew Chloe Bennett’s ethnicity as she actually changed her name from Chloe Wong to further her career. A story that was sanitized by the media a little while ago to prevent it from sounding as racist as it was. Still-they’ve done the best with a minor character on a TV series that feels at times removed from all the cooler stuff going on. So, yeah, Asian representation in Marvels cinematic and television universe is pretty spotty. Hopefully Guardians of the Galaxy will start to correct that with Mantis.
The future? Its possible Amadeus Cho will show up as he is related to Kims characters in Age of Ultron but what would Marvel do with him? Are they interested in teenage characters? This is a company that shelved the Runaways (which has LGBT representation, black representation, Asian representation) to put more money behind the first Avengers. Shang Chi? Would Marvel do another Martial Arts property? Daredevil and Elektra are martial artists and they fight the hand. Iron Fist is obviously the big play. Its doubtful they would do Shang Chi with both those properties around. Maybe I’m a pessimist.
Now Marvel does not have a lot of good Asian characters. Their most recognizable Asian is probably Psylocke who is a white woman in a Asian body. Yes-Psylocke is a white British telepath who took over an Asian body. After that we have… More X-Men which Marvel Studios can not use. Jubilee, Armor, others. Outside the X-Universe who do they have? Ms. Marvel, Kamala Khan. She actually might be the most popular Asian character they have right now. Are they going to use her?
Look-Danny Rands white. Okay. They cast a white dude. Fine. It does not change the issue that Marvel Studios will probably not present too many Asian leads, especially ones where culture is a significant part of the characters story. That’s the problem. Danny Rand is a white guy who gets an Asian backstory in a universe with limited Asian superheroes where their culture or heritage is important to them.