NPR Critic: Netflix Blew It

Hiring a white guy to play Iron Fist.

Yup. White.

NPR’s Eric Deggans is miffed:

On the surface, Marvel’s “Iron Fist” is a clunky story about a rich kid who goes missing when his plane crashes in Asia. He returns to New York as a martial arts master with the ability to summon great power through his hand, the iron fist.

Oddly, this seems to be pretty much the same setup as The Arrow, Batman and a few other comic book films/series. Marvel and DC must have created a bunch of back stories in which the hero is a displaced white dude who has nothing to do except learn to be violent.

If TV keeps making series about comic books aimed at white teenagers of the 1960’s and ’70’s, there’s gonna be some stereotypes.

Deggans points out rightly that there are other examples of white characters playing parts which were originally Asian in the comics. 

SCARLETT JOHANSSON: (As Major) This is Major. I’m on site. I’m going in.

DEGGANS: Major is a part-human, part-android hero played by Scarlett Johansson in her upcoming film “Ghost In The Shell.” But the character was originally Japanese, created in a Japanese comic. Some fans were so upset an Asian actor wasn’t cast as Major they co-opted a recent social media campaign for the movie to complain in memes.

Man. They were complaining in memes. 

 The problem isn’t just that Asian actors already get so few roles; they don’t need white actors taking more of them. Though that is certainly true. It’s also because such casting allows films and TV shows to make Asian people background props in their own stories, gilding productions with elements of Asian culture without giving any real agency to Asian people.

I am on board! I think Scarlett Johannson needs to be in fewer movies anyway. 

Turning back to Netflix’s take on “Iron Fist,” it’s worth noting the original comic book character is also white, so Marvel and Netflix may have been torn between presenting the character as fans know him or subverting the white-savior trope with different casting.

Yeah, so. Netflix commissioned a series about a white comic book hero, and they cast a white guy as the lead.  I’m so mad I might create a meme.





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5 Responses to NPR Critic: Netflix Blew It

  1. Paul Krendler says:

    But don’t forget – capital ‘A’ Art is all about challenging your assumptions.

    Not mine.


    Art that upsets me is BAD.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. onwyrdsdream says:

    In ghost in the shell, the human part is vanishingly small. It more or less asks the question what is the least amount of human can you stick in a t1000 before it becomes a human. That is the ghost bit. I don’t think it is even an entire human brain. Just a relative few neurons. Ghost in the shell makes you impressed at how much of the original organism was preserved in RoboCop. The shell bit is not human. It is a character that in the progression of time could be played by literally any actor. In the first animated movie the main character ends up in a child shell in the end. They’re harder to kill than Highlanders. Off with their head won’t cut it.

    Of course, this is based on memories a decade or two old so I might be off on a few details.


  3. It’s wrong to even say it but action movies with white male leads have been historically successful. I’d like to see Idris Elba as Bond, and Denzel Washington is ten times the actor that Hugh Jackman is… But movie studio executives are paid to cut risk, not take risks. Complaining when they don’t turn an established white hero into an Asian guy isn’t really fair. [I don’t watch much of that crap anyway.]


  4. Pablo says:

    Lots of this going around. This one is particularly hysterical.

    Finn Jones and Iron Fist have one thing in common


    • I’m watching it right now and quite enjoying it. It’s nor going to down in the annals of tv/movies as a “greatest” to be watched by film students decades from now, but it is good for what it is. I note that it has an 8-point-something rating on imdb.


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