If you think Netflix's 'Iron Fist' is racist or whitewashing, you don't understand the character

FinnJonesinIronFist
Finn Jones as Danny Rand in "Iron Fist."

Netflix’s Iron Fist isn’t racist, the character’s creator Roy Thomas isn’t racist and the show’s casting isn’t another case of Hollywood whitewashing.

Danny Rand, a/k/a Iron Fist, was a white man when he first appeared in "Marvel Premiere" No. 15 in 1974 and he has always been white.

"He was a character for a comic book at a different time,” Thomas said of Rand in an interview with Inverse.com. But, Thomas added, if the producers “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."

"... People have too much time on their hands, I guess. They have an infinite capacity for righteous indignation," Thomas said. "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?"

Jerry Chandler, who writes the blog "Needless things," sees Thomas’s point.

"I’m someone who is in favor of seeing the diversity of this country and the Marvel Universe make its way to our screens," Chandler states. "As such, I’m going to offer a suggestion to the social critics/crusaders out there - choose your battles and the words you use as weapons more carefully and intelligently!

"Iron Fist is a poor choice to take this stand over," he continued. "There are legitimate discussions to be had over whitewashing, but this show really offers none of the reasons for those discussions. It’s not a reboot/remake of an existing property with a minority lead. Danny Rand has always been white. It doesn’t help legitimate discussions about whitewashing to knee-jerk label things ‘whitewashing’ and dilute the meaning of the word."

“'Racist' has been thrown around a lot lately," he added. "This is, here, an inaccurate label. You can damage your own cause and turn away potential allies wrongly throwing that word around. Especially, because, in its time, ‘Iron Fist’ was an amazingly progressive book! The creators behind it were more courageous than some of their peers when it came to tackling progressive issues and social injustices. Aspects of it may seem quaint by 2017 standards; especially for critics who weren’t around 43 years ago. But it was a series that laid the industry groundwork for the next steps forward to be taken.

"Claims that this is ‘White Savior’ or ‘Mighty Whitey’ racism are wrong. It’s something far less evil. It’s ‘someone Like Me’ wish fulfillment.

"I have used various social media and writing platforms to promote characters like Night Thrasher, Shang-Chi, Sunfire, Turbo, or others getting the next shots at MCU fame. If the people attacking Iron Fist instead put that same time, energy, focus, and social media noise into promoting characters like those to the powers that be, they might actually start getting made," Chandler concluded. "The additional benefit there is getting more voices joining in support of a cause rather than tuning it out."

Outspoken comic book artist ChrisCross, who has never been shy about pushing for diversity in the industry and speaking out about racism, also says that those in a tizzy over the "Iron Fist" show's casting are fighting the wrong fight.  

"How about we look at things this way for people who never read ‘Iron Fist’ but are reacting based on people who never heard of the concept until it was aired," he said. "Here's a young, white, rich boy named Danny Rand who's the heir apparent to a multi-billion dollar corporation. (He's) headed to China with his parents when the plane falls out of the sky into the Himalayan mountains and kills everyone on board except the boy himself. The people of The Heavenly city of K'un L'un bring the boy into their care and never once flinched at the boy's ethnicity. He was a boy in need. 

"He was assimilated into their culture with no special treatment," he added. "I'm sure he was teased here and there about his presence but grew up under their paradigm, learned about the unfettered history without it being tainted by some white historians who's mission it was to make whites superior and changed to make those Asians look like savages.

"He ate with them and fought with them, trained with them in the trenches and was lanced just like them when there were consequences," he continued. "For all intents and purposes, Danny Rand was of K'un L'un, not a part of the oppressive regime all over the world that sat on the spirit of people of color, and would correct anyone if someone talked fool logic in prejudice aimed at Asians or any brown or black person! He would be too knowledgeable to fall for such foolishness and would teach those fools in kind for saying anything directed to those he grew up with!” 

According to ChrisCross, Danny Rand is the antithesis of "white privilege" and he said it would be a shame if “Iron Fist” “doesn't get a chance to get better and is shelved because of an outcry of people who never understood the very concept of a lone survivor who thrived in another culture and became a warrior protecting them as a gracious payback for raising him, and then took his knowledge to help the downtrodden."

 

"This isn't David Carradine put in place of Bruce Lee, people," he emphasized. "He shouldn't be Asian because he's not Asian. Just like Bruce Lee should have been in 'Kung Fu', not only because he created the show, but also because it’s about Asians coming into a land stolen by Europeans and how that Asian deals with that situation and uses his wisdom and prowess to teach as he goes."

"Danny Rand is not the same premise. He was wasn't pulling a whole culture down in a system he created to cheat those of K'un Lun of their culture and finances. This isn't the right fight. In fact, it's not a fight at all."