Finn Jones stars as Danny Rand in Marvel’s Iron Fist.
Marvel’s Iron Fist has been getting a lot of attention lately, but probably not the kind that Netflix would want.
The superhero series has attracted controversy for its white savior premise, with many fans decrying the show’s cultural appropriation and arguing that an Asian or Asian-American actor should have been cast in the lead role.
Many fans, that is, but not all. One person who’s got no patience for that kind of talk is Roy Thomas, the 76-year-old creator of the Iron Fist comic book series. In a new interview, he suggests that critics of Iron Fist just "have too much time on their hands."
Inverse recently sat down with Thomas – who, it should be noted, is not involved with the Netflix TV series (they discuss his feelings about that in the interview, too). Thomas confided that the conversation about Iron Fist’s cultural appropriation makes him "furious."
Oh boy. This is gonna be good.
Us right now.
Yeah, someone made me vaguely aware of that. I try not to think about it too much. I have so little patience for some of the feelings that some people have. I mean, I understand where it’s coming from. You know, cultural appropriation, my god. It’s just an adventure story. Don’t these people have something better to do than to worry about the fact that Iron Fist isn’t Oriental, or whatever word? I know Oriental isn’t the right word now, either.
So … he knows "Oriental" isn’t the right word but went ahead and used it anyway, huh?
Also us right now.
Thomas went on to argue that Iron Fist "was a character for a comic book at a different time."
It’s very easy to second-guess anything. You can argue about Tarzan, you can argue about almost any character who came up then is bound to be not quite PC by some later standard or other. Okay, so you can make some adjustments. If they wanted to kill off white Iron Fist and come up with one who wasn’t Caucasian, that wouldn’t have bothered me, but neither am I ashamed for having made up one who was. He wasn’t intended to stand for any race. He was just a man who was indoctrinated into a certain thing.
It may be true that the concept of Iron Fist was more acceptable in 1974. But that’s a good reason for the property’s current handlers to update and modernize it. It’s not a good excuse for dragging Iron Fist’s retrograde racial dynamics into the year 2017.
Thomas then spent some time scolding people whom he thinks have too much time.
I just think some people have too much time on their hands, I guess. They have an infinite capacity for righteous indignation. By and large, that tends to be misplaced quite often because if you’re becoming all upset over things that are just stories, and if you don’t like it, instead of trying to change somebody else’s story, go out and make up your own character and do a good job of it. That’s just fine, but why waste time trying to run down other people’s characters simply because they weren’t created with your standards in mind?
And put forth the argument that, hey, there’s no narrative reason that Iron Fist can’t be Caucasian.
Now if something is really racist or degrading to a sex or race, an ethnic group or something like that, that’s something else, but Iron Fist isn’t that and never has been. It’s all about a fictitious race, a fictitious place like a Shangri-La, and one person who happens to be its emissary. There’s no reason why he can’t be Caucasian.
By that logic, of course there’s no reason he couldn’t have been Asian (or any other race), either.
But something tells us that’s not the point he’s trying to make here.