We live in a peak time of social awareness. For better or worse, that’s kind of a fact of life (at least in America). More than ever, film audiences are realizing just how much Hollywood bases their stories around white figures. As such, they’re growing more and more resistant to instances of whitewashing.
We’ve seen some of these controversies play out with such films as Exodus: Gods and Kings, Gods of Egypt, Doctor Strange, and most recently, Ghost in the Shell. Another interesting case comes from the Marvel TV front in the form of Iron Fist, their upcoming Netflix series. While this is a character that is historically white in the comics, there was a bit of a backlash when British actor Finn Jones was cast as the title character. In the minds of some fans, Danny Rand was an opportunity for Marvel to cast an Asian actor, as they’d grown tired of the trope where a white character goes to Asia and learns martial arts better than their Asian counterparts, only to become the “white savior.”
Regardless of your opinion on the whole thing, the fact is that Jones was ultimately cast, but what does that mean for the story? Will this mean Iron Fist is destined to be a “white savior”? Speaking with Gadget 360, Iron Fist showrunner Scott Buck dispelled any worries about this being the case.
When Marvel came to me with this idea, I’d never heard of Iron Fist or Danny Rand. I had never read the comics. What [Marvel TV head] Jeph Loeb pitched me specifically was this character Danny Rand, and that was the story that pulled me in. That intrigued me. So the other aspects I only learned about afterwards, and I can say most definitively Danny Rand is no white savior. He’s trying to save himself, if anything.
That’s definitely comforting to hear, as this is a trope that’s been used in Hollywood ad nauseam, and just from a story perspective, it’s a lazy crutch for a lack of story innovation. The folks over at Marvel Television have thus far done an amazing jobs with their street-level superheroes so far, and it’d be a shame for Iron First to end up as a blemish on their flawless record.
When all said and one, I can definitely see where some folks are coming from in their desire to have more racially varied superheroes, but I’m not sure switching out white heroes is the answer. Better to pull from characters from the comics whose cultural background is more ingrained in their personalities or motivations.
What do you think of Buck’s comments? Do you believe him, or do you think Iron Fist is destined to be another “white savior”? Let us know your thoughts down below!
Iron Fist hits Netflix March 2017!