When Netflix and Marvel's latest series Iron Fist premiered, there was a lot of excitement but also some controversy. Some felt the lead—who is a magical, kung fu warrior—should have gone to someone of Asian descent instead of English actor Finn Jones. Hong Kong-based American actor Daniel Wu, who also stars in the martial arts–based Into the Badlands series, weighed in on the issue.
"I think that's people going a little too precocious on that because originally the character was written white—it wasn’t like it was a whitewashing thing," he told Screen Anarchy, before comparing it to the recent decision to have Scarlett Johansson star in a Japanese manga movie. "It's not like you are talking about a 'Ghost in the Shell issue,' right? And I still don’t actually buy the Ghost in the Shell whitewashing issue either, and I certainly don’t buy into the cultural appropriation bullshit because that’s saying [for Iron Fist] that 'only Asians are allowed to do martial arts' then that means only black people can play basketball and rap? That means Jeremy Lin shouldn’t be playing basketball? And Eminem shouldn’t be rapping? That’s bullshit."
He added, "I know Asian Americans are angry, but they should calm down and choose the correct fight in that case—I agree that Marvel missed the chance of doing something interesting and casting against the race—they could have done that—and that would have given them some credit, but they didn’t, so what are you going to do about it? I think the important thing is that everyone learned a lesson."
Wu's thoughts were perhaps best summed up when talking about why his Into the Badlands show was special, "We're not going 'This is an Asian American show'—it's just a cool show, that just so happens to have an Asian American lead."
Iron Fist is on Netflix now while Into the Badlands is currently on its second season on AMC. Below, watch Marvel editor-in-chief Axel Alonso talk about the comic company's 2017 plans: