ByElliott Walton, writer at
Love everything in the MCU, writer of fanfiction including Spider-man and F4 into the MCU,
Elliott Walton

There's been much publicity and opinion on whether Danny Rand should be portrayed by an asian actor or a white actor as in the comics. Mostly discussion in this instances I think boils down to two schools of thought: Do you want increased diversity and therefore and asian actor, or do you want to be loyal to the source material, with a white actor.

I believe both are legitimate reasons, neither better than the other, so when I think about the Netflix Iron Fist series and what I want from it I lean towards an asian character, for the following reasons:

Diversity is important

My niece always looks for female superheroes to aspire to, but there aren't many, it's always Black Widow or The Wasp (occasionally Batgirl). Kids (big and small) love to have characters they can relate to or aspire to be. I imagine it's the same for all people and why it's important in this golden time for Marvel on the silver and big screen to include diversity of people with different backgrounds and stories that open the Marvel Universe to a whole new group of people. This need for diversity is not purely to cater to asian Americans or the growing Chinese market, it's to tell a different story. We can all agree the "Rich white man, whose parents die in tragic circumstances, and then becomes a superhero to avenge them and protect the city" is not a original story and doesn't add anything new or unique to the comic book universe. However and asian character can introduce more layers and depth to the story.

Asian character identity

Having Danny Rand as an Asian creates a more intricate and interesting story. Danny Rand being adopted as an orphan from China would create a lot of backstory and conflict within Danny's life. These would include his origins as a Chinese orphan, being "rescued" by rich Americans and how this affects his identity as their son and as a Chinese boy growing up in America. These conflicts would also be prevalent in his private school, as an asian adopted son of a rich family and the difficulties fitting in due to his ethnicity. These conflicts due to race and heritage would continue with his parents untimely death resulting in him being taking in as a stranger in the country of his birth then trained in K'un L'un. This again enhances his feeling of isolation, where he is not an outsider because the colour of his skin but because of where and how he grew up. These situations continually add layers to his identity, and force him to struggles with answers to the question: "Is it where your born, the colour of your skin, the place you grew up in or your choices that make you the person you are."

These lessons and questions would then be put to the test as this adopted Chinese boy returns home to New York and attempts to regain control of his parents company ahead of more senior and trusted board members. These questions would also become central to Danny as he tries to find where he fits in, is he the wealthy playboy and business man his parents and society expect him to be? Does he honour the teaching of K'un L'un and follow their guidance or does he create his own path. Combined with these themes would be search for his parents murderer and the conspiracy behind it.

Part of a larger story

An Asian Danny Rand could also have some deeper more interesting story lines that would lurk in the background of his main storyline. Some fans have suggested that daredevil season one included Easter eggs surrounding Madame Gao and the possibility of her being from K'un L'un. This and it would be an interesting link between the two series but there would not necessarily be a great benefit of the two being connected by Danny being asian.

However there is another Marvel character who could add a great deal of gravitas to both Danny Rand and his story, that is the Mandarin. The Mandarin's use in Marvel movies has been limited to an impostor and one shot. Fans are eager to see the true Mandarin fully explored in Marvel's universe but it is unlikely to happen in the near future with a solo Iron man movie not expected to happen for many years if ever. If this is the case the Mandarin could be used in Marvel's Netflix series to be an overarching big bad in a similar fashion to Thanos.

The Mandarin could easily be connected to both The Hand, IGH and other organisations in his attempt to control the world. One of his other goals may have been to put he's sun Temugin into an orphanage and construct an event that will lead to him being adopted by one of the richest families in America, the Rand family. Then as Danny reaches puberty, the Mandarin instruments a situation where the family would return to China, Danny's parents are killed and Danny is brought into K'un L'un to undergo teaching and training to eventually become the Iron fist. This master plan would eventually end up with Danny leading a billion-dollar company and manipulating events for the Mandarins benefit. This could be revealed in future series leading up to a defender series focused on taking down the Mandarin.


Do you think Danny Rand should be Asian?


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