Yesterday I read an interesting article from Albert Ching, Managing Editor at Comic Book Resources, where he explains why he hopes that the actor cast as Iron Fist in Marvel Television/Netflix’s upcoming series isn’t Asian.
And I think that I get it why an Asian person might have a problem with an Asian person as the lead in a martial arts series–after all, what a viewer could potentially take from it is that all Asian people have to offer is their kung-fu ability.
Which is is similar to the way Asian peoples are supposedly all good in math; that’s a pretty insidious one.
And I agree with Ching, though not for the same reasons (though I have to admit that Asian people in most movies virtually all being ninjas makes sense to me, which is exactly the problem he was talking about).
That being said, the skin color of both Power Man/Luke Cage and Iron Fist/Danny Rand is relevant to their narrative. Cage first appeared in comics in 1972, and Rand two years later.
The time they were created is relevant because I recall that time as a particularly turbulent, racially-speaking. And coming from a young person who got a lot of the information about the world from reading comics, science fiction and fantasy books it was always hartening to me that Cage and Rand–being different colors–was a sign that two people from wildly divergent backgrounds and worldviews could still be friends and overcome some serious odds on the way there (Luke Cage gained his abilities from being experimented on while in prison, while Daniel Rand was similar, despite from the opposite end of things. He gained his abilities while on an expedition seeking the mystical city of K’un Lun.
What else Rand was was also the and was heir to the Rand-Meecham conglomerate, and the millions that that entailed.
Yet despite their very different backgrounds, they were always treated as equals.
And I know that I am talking about a comicbook, but that made it no less comforting to see people so blatantly different coexisting comfortably.
And don’t assume for a moment that all comics took the same tack because one of the most offensive things I have ever read was also from a comic (writer Fabian Nicieza had a particularly offensive run on The New Warriors, when the team travelled to an alternate timeline that was remarkable for its bad taste–and potential racism, depending upon how you look at it).
That dichotomy between the characters was not only relevant, but important to the feel of the entire comic. To change the skin color of either Luke Cage or Danny Rand would alter a very important dynamic between the two characters (which I hope the Iron Fist series comments upon) that made them who they are.
And in a small way, made me who I am as well. .