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From Westeros to Hell’s Kitchen, actor Finn Jones is running in some iconic neighborhoods these days. The Brit, best known as Ser Loras Tyrell in Game of Thrones, has been cast for the coveted lead role in Marvel’s upcoming Iron Fist series on Netflix; it can be assumed he’ll go on to star alongside Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, and Daredevil in the following Defenders series.
The story of Iron Fist begins when 9 year-old Daniel Rand is trapped in a mysterious Himalayan village where he takes on the martial arts powers of the Iron Fist. Though Rand is American, and travels to the village with his American parents, some fans have pushed for an Asian actor to be cast because the characters powers are martial-arts based and story is rich with Eastern symbolism. Others argue that casting an actor for those reasons, (and counter to the original comic story), would be the racist move.
As soon as Marvel made the announcement “Iron Fist” started trending on Twitter where neither side of the debate is backing down.
To recap the day in comics casting; Iron Fist is whiter than Archie.
— Andrew Wheeler (@Wheeler) February 25, 2016
— Ryan Comfort (@Rcomfort94) February 26, 2016
We shouldn’t be too surprised by the choice. It’s true that Danny Rand was a white American in the comics, and ScreenRant has an insightful piece on politics in the upcoming Luke Cage series which points out Marvel’s consistency in adapting their characters. Regarding making Cage a political show the author writes (emphasis mine): “Marvel would also be following the edict that has thus far defined them as a studio: Faithfully translating their characters from page to screen. Luke Cage the show cannot be “made” political because Luke Cage the character has always been political.”
What is interesting is the timing. With arguments about diversity and campaigns like #OscarsSoWhite raging lately it does seem like Marvel chose an opportune time to make the announcement. All the free publicity is sure to drive curiosity toward one of their canon’s smaller characters.
I never knew anything about Iron Fist. Today I learned a lot about what Iron Fist ISN'T.
— Sean Gordon Murphy (@Sean_G_Murphy) February 25, 2016
Marvel’s own success with its Netflix shows are its best advertising however. With Jessica Jones topping multiple best of TV lists (including our own) for 2015 the creators would have to seriously botch Luke Cage in order to quell interest in the shows.
Ultimately, Marvel was going to have a hard time making everybody happy with this casting choice.
People were going to be pissed off about IRON FIST no matter what. Heads he's "cultural appropriation," tales he's a racial-stereotype…
— Bob Chipman (@the_moviebob) February 25, 2016
There’s bound to be calls for a boycott of the show prior to its debut, we’ll let you know what we hear.