For months now, large portions of the internet (myself included) have been calling for Marvel to cast an Asian actor as Danny Rand in their upcoming Iron Fist Netflix series. Unfortunately That Hashtag Show (a site you’ve probably never heard of) is reporting that Game of Thrones‘ Finn Jones has won the role.
The Iron Fist casting has always been a contentious proposition with valid arguments on both sides. Keeping Rand white as he is in the comics continues the White Savior trope with a white guy coming in and being a better martial artist than all the Asian people around him. If they went with an Asian actor they’d be reinforcing the All Asians Are Ninjas stereotype. Marvel was kind of screwed. Or were they?
There is one huge aspect of Marvel’s Netflix shows that people are overlooking. These are series steeped in social commentary. Daredevil was essentially Matt Murdock vs gentrification. Jessica Jones took sexism and rape culture head on. Luke Cage will, we’ve been assured, deal with the racism inherent in our justice system. It’s hard to imagine that Iron Fist won’t continue this trend.
Danny Rand is a wealthy white man from a wealthy family. He hasn’t dealt with the kind of issues the rest of the Defenders have. Racism, classism, sexism, ableism – these are concerns he’s never had. They are, however, part of the privilege he’ll have to admit to and confront for both the character and the series to work.
It’s important to remember that even That Hashtag Show admits this is a rumor they’ve yet to able to confirm. But if it is true, having an Iron Fist series that will deal with its lead’s white privilege might not be the worst thing.