Netflix’s Iron Fist has received its fair share of horrible reviews. And even I, a fan of all things Marvel, can’t seem to finish the series. The show has been put on blast because it didn’t cast an Asian actor as Danny Rand, and also because it cast a bland white actor, Finn Jones, as Rand. In response to the show’s controversy, Roy Thomas, co-creator with Gil Kane of the comic book character Danny Rand, has created his own controversy.
In an interview published in Inverse, Thomas garnered a bunch of side eyes after referring to Asian people as “Oriental”:
I have so little patience for some of the feelings that some people have. I mean, I understand where it’s coming from. You know, cultural appropriation, my God. It’s just an adventure story. Don’t these people have something better to do than to worry about the fact that Iron Fist isn’t Oriental, or whatever word? I know Oriental isn’t the right word now, either.
He was a character for a comic book at a different time. It’s very easy to second-guess anything. You can argue about Tarzan, you can argue about almost any character who came up then is bound to be not quite PC by some later standard or other. OK, so you can make some adjustments. If they 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.
What I find interesting is that Thomas knew that referring to Asian people as “Oriental” was the incorrect thing to do. But in all things “not giving a damn,” Thomas didn’t give a damn.
But someone gave a damn. And that was Iron Fist’s Jessica Henwick, who plays Colleen Wing.
Of course, Thomas knows this, and is a classic example of when “trying to be an edgy old white man” goes wrong. One of these days, people will realize that words mean things.