“The Outrage over Marvel’s Iron Fist Casting, Explained”

“On Thursday, I was accused of being racist against white people. (The man who called me racist has since deleted the six tweets accusing me of it.)

Some of my best friends are white people. I work with white people. I’ve totally dated a white person, and I went to a predominantly white college. I listen to Taylor Swift and enjoyed The Notebook. I like meatloaf, and I read comic books. I will vouch for The Corrections. I fucking love SoulCycle.

But this comment didn’t come as a surprise to me.

The reason I was called an anti-white racist was that I tried to explain why Asian-American comic book fans were upset that Marvel’s Iron Fist is going to be a white man. I also made a Macklemore joke.

On Thursday, the Hollywood Reporter and EWreported and confirmed that the role of Iron Fist, Marvel’s next Netflix hero, will be played by Finn Jones, a.k.a. Ser Loras Tyrell on Game Of Thrones.

 Marvel’s decision upholds 40-something years of comic book canon, but it’s also a disappointing shock to some comic book fans — particularly Asian-American comic book fans who hoped that Marvel might take the opportunity to cast an Asian or Asian-American actor as Iron Fist. Their disappointment has been met with some sniping from comic book purists who believed their beloved source material was under threat and now feel vindicated.

The response to Marvel’s casting exhibited an ugly, unyielding side of comic book fandom, and the comic book community displayed, once again, why people refuse to take it seriously.

If someone announced tomorrow that the X-Woman known as Storm, a.k.a. Ororo Munroe, was going to be an Asian-American woman, I would be livid. Such a change would be a disgrace to the comic book character. It would also betray years and years of comic book canon, and thousands of pages of hard work from writer Chris Claremont.

So I understand the protectiveness that fans feel over comic books. Comics are powerful pieces of art and fiction that have shaped childhoods and realities for the people who read them. And there’s an expectation that showrunners, directors, producers, writers, actors, and actresses will be loyal to these precious things.

What’s a little more difficult to understand, and what I’m still figuring out, is that when those folks tweak or change the race or sex of an established character — like a black Human Torch or a female Thor or Jeri Hogarth from Jessica Jones — sometimes the only argument being made against their decision is that the original version of the character “is canon.”

It’s not that canon isn’t important. With characters like Storm and Luke Cage, who are both black, the color of their skin is essential to their characters. Cage’s indestructible skin is a powerful allegory of racial injustice that still resonates today, decades after the character was debuted in 1972. There’s a similar resonance with Storm. Writer Greg Pak and artist Victor Ibanez’s 2014 solo series showed the juxtaposition of being considered the queen of Wakanda (a fictional African country) and a goddess with being considered a black, mutant criminal in America.

And honoring canon isn’t just paramount with respect to characters of color, either. Magneto’s background as a Holocaust survivor is essential to his worldview…”



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