Once again, we find ourselves in a race switch controversy. Fortunately, the casting of Daniel Rand aka Iron Fist is done and the producers have seen fit to stick with the original race of the character. But, why? Have you wondered yet? I mean, despite the fact that he is very white, maybe the producers of the Netflix show should have gone the way of the Human Torch and switched to an Asian or Asian-American actor. According to the mainstream media, we all know that back in the day Marvel was an organization of white men writing to white men so whether they were cognitive of it or not, they were cowtowning to the inherent racist agenda of the day, right? And the character of Daniel Rand is just one more white hero to get ‘yellow fever’ and steal everything he could from the Asian culture; including the pinnacle of the oriental contribution to us all, Martial Arts. So, it would only seem fitting that he should be played by an actor of Asian descent.
Ok, enough of that.
Let me get one thing straight. Heading into the 70s Marvel was at the lead of multi-cultural influence in their portion of the media. If you think Marvel’s sensitivity to sexual and racial issues is something that happened in just the last decade, you are ill-informed. Two to the biggest racially diverse characters ever (as well as two of the first), Black Panther and Luke Cage, were born out of the 60s and 70s and weren’t modern additions. Go dig up the comics. Black Panther was the first black superhero to be appear in American comics period! And Luke Cage appeared first in his OWN title as the premier African-American hero of his time or any time!
Marvel marched on with the greatest array of multi-colored, varied cultured heroes ever to grace comics.
And Iron Fist was a part of that! I become incensed when anyone makes the case that this hero was created out of ‘yellow fever’. Anyone who says this has never read the comics. If any character was a part of an honest homage to all the possible cultures America had to offer back in the 70s, it was Daniel Rand. Look at those who surround him. His best friend is the man who I mentioned before. Luke Cage was an equal; they were equals. The combo of Power Man and Iron Fist broke the mold set in the 60s of the hero/sidekick paradigm. It broke the stereotype. It blazed trails in the relationship the two of them had and I can’t wait to see that play out on Netflix.
Not only that, but he surrounded himself with the most racially diverse cast of characters ever seen in one comic; especially for that time. With characters like Coleen Wing, Misty Knight, Shang Chi, the White Tiger (check more), it breaks the argument of a story born of racism. If anything, it raised the cause of both women and many cultures to a new high. It brought new heroes for the kids to aspire to be and relate to; from the Asian to African-American to the Puerto Rican to just about any nationality in existence. So back off with the whole racist narrative; it doesn’t play out.
And on the subject of ‘Yellow Fever’, I’m afraid it doesn’t play out. Daniel Rand was a white son of a wealthy business man and an equally white mother. He lost them on an expedition in the Himalayans where he discovered an ancient city hidden between dimensions. There he gained their respect by saving their king. This said King made him his heir and watched as this outsider aspired to their highest honor; that of the Iron Fist. Many were against him because of his skin. Many were prejudice of him and would try and stop him on all turns. But he persevered. He not only became the Iron Fist, he honored their tradition and raised it to new heights. He respected their culture and became one with it although he became unlike any Iron Fist ever!
So? The bottom line is Daniel Rand must be white to make his ascendance make sense. Without this one piece, we don’t understand the plight of the outsider trying desperately to be one of them. This isn’t “Yellow Fever”. It’s an honoring and respecting of the ancient oriental traditions of the past; meshing it into the backdrop of the modern age. If anything, it's a sample of the American melting pot where all races and cultures come together in mutual respect and love!
So, in the end? The story of Iron Fist is nothing more than the story of us all learning to get past what we see and loving each other for the humans we are. Not the labels of our skin or cultural background. We are all one in this story. What I really hope is that thought the honest writing of this epic we learn to take the lesson of Iron Fist and apply to our everyday life; a life where we can make even the internet a civil place of love, inclusion and understanding.
BDC also writes for Jackeduptales!