Why Iron Fist Danny Rand Should Be Asian-American
Hey everyone! Asyi here with another article. This time it is going to be about my all time favourite superhero, Iron Fist. If you follow me on twitter, you would know how much I love Iron Fist (I’m obsessed) and how much I wish Danny Rand is Asian-American, or Chinese-American to be more specific. Here’s why.
1. We don’t need another white saviour.
This is all too common in Hollywood. White man goes to Asia, learns martial arts from a wise old Asian man, and then goes on to save the people in distress. You see it in so many movies where the white man always ends up coming out on top. The Last Samurai, Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom, The Man Who Would Be King, and this year we had The Great Wall and Birth of The Dragon (the supposedly “biopic” of the legendary martial artist Bruce Lee). The list goes on.
The Asian audience is getting tired of seeing white people be the saviour. We want to be the heroes too. We want to be the ones to save our people, protect them from harm, lead them towards victory. When Finn Jones was casted as Danny Rand, my first reaction was disappointment. Here we have another white saviour. Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure Jones will do an amazing job as Danny and I am excited to see him in action. I just think it’s about time we have more Asian superheroes in the MCU and more heroic Asian characters in film. Just to name a few amazing ones we already have had the pleasure to see on screen…
2. It would bring more depth to the character.
Let’s reimagine Danny as a Chinese boy for a minute. Born in New York to Wendell Rand-K’ai and Heather Duncan, he spends his childhood growing up in New York City. His dad has his own company to run, making him busy all the time so Danny was brought up by the community. He assimilated to the American culture. His parents never taught him to speak his mother tongue and he is almost completely out of touch with his Chinese culture. This is common with a lot of POC kids brought up in western societies. All because of the racism they face, they give up their culture in order to fit in.
And then one day Wendell decides to go searching for K’un-Lun and brings his family along. Tragedy happens and Danny ends up in the mystical city. He’s all alone, he can’t speak the language, and he is completely out of sync with the culture. As a Chinese-American boy, Danny would still be an outcast.
The years he spends in K’un-Lun will be a way for him to learn about his culture. His father grew up in K’un-Lun when Tuan (Yu-Ti) adopted him. Through training with Lei Kung, Danny could learn about his father. Wendell wanted to be the Iron Fist but it never happened. Danny could achieve that goal for his father. In a lot of Asian culture, family and honour are very important aspects. Not only will he reconnect with his culture but he will also honour his father, giving the mantle of the Iron Fist even more meaning to him.
3. No, an Asian guy who knows martial arts is NOT a racist stereotype.
Keep in mind that martial arts originated from Africa and was brought to Asia. If an Asian character is reduced to only being good at martial arts and has no quirks or any other winning aspects to them, then yes, that is a racist stereotype. Stereotypes are one-dimensional. Stereotypes happen with bad writing. If you have amazing writers, you will have complex, three-dimensional characters. Danny Rand is intellectual, spiritual, compassionate, and empathetic even when he has been through so much turmoil and hardship. Even then he’s still such a fun and down to earth character. Reducing the character to just “a guy who knows Kung Fu” is an injustice. Danny is so much more than that.
4. Still want a white Iron Fist?
Orson Randall! He was the guardian of Danny’s father, and the Iron Fist before Danny. They could have casted a white guy for Orson and have Danny be Chinese. Orson is wise, intelligent, and also highly skilled. He knows how to channel his Chi through his ammo. No two Iron Fists can exist at the same time and yet, Orson managed to coexist with Danny. He could easily be Danny’s father figure since he’s been an Iron Fist a lot longer than Danny has, plus the whole ‘I pretty much raised your father’ deal. They would have been an awesome pairing to see in live action.
So there you go. Those are my reasons why Danny Rand should be Chinese-American. We live in a time where diversity and representation is so important and Marvel could do with more of it. In the Netflix Iron Fist series, Danny is a straight white male who was born into wealth. What I can only hope for from this series is that they touch on Danny’s privilege. We also have Colleen Wing, a woman of colour, fighting by Danny’s side. The perfect character (aside from Luke and Misty) to keep Danny in his place and teach him, along with the audience, about white privilege.
Iron Fist is scheduled for release on Netflix on March 17, 2017.