Beginning with the arrival of Daredevil in 2015, Marvel Studios quickly established itself as a force to be reckoned with on the small-screen, just as the theatrical MCU had long-since established itself as a box office powerhouse. While ABC series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has its fans, Daredevil season 1 drew almost unanimous critical praise, and soon became one of the crown jewels among Netflix’s original series. This successful track record continued with follow-ups Jessica Jones, Daredevil season 2, and Luke Cage.
Only one more 13-episode Marvel season remains before Netflix’s massive team-up miniseries The Defenders premieres, that being Iron Fist. The series tells the story of Danny Rand (Finn Jones), an heir to a business empire that returns to New York City after 15 years spent missing and eventually presumed dead. Rand didn’t come back quite the same though, as he’s now in possession of both formidable martial arts skills, and the mystical powers of the Iron Fist. Unfortunately, the casting of British actor Jones in the lead role hasn’t set well with some.
While Danny is a white character in the comics, the mythology of Iron Fist is so deeply intertwined with Asian culture that many had hoped Marvel and Netflix would take the opportunity to alter the character’s traditional racial background when adapting him to TV, allowing an Asian actor to take over the role. The series will premiere soon, but debate over whether or not Danny should be white in the TV series continues unabated, with Jones engaging in a long back and forth on the matter this past weekend on Twitter. Jones subsequently deleted his account for about a day, before reinstating it this afternoon. He offered the following comments on the situation to Deadline:
“There is a huge benefit to engage and help shape conversations on social media, especially when it comes to giving a voice to social matters. My original intention was to amplify a speech made by Riz Ahmed at the House of Commons. It was a very articulate and important speech on representation that I wholly agreed with. After posting I was inundated by people accusing me of not being allowed to share his voice based on an assumption that our show is going to play into the problems of racial inequality on screen. I engaged politely, diplomatically and attempted to bridge the divide. I’m currently in the middle of filming and I need to stay focused on bringing to life this character without judgment, so I decided to remove myself from twitter for the time being.
I am very proud of the work everyone has done on this series and I’m excited for people to see how we’ve adapted the story. We have gone to great lengths to represent a diverse cast with an intelligent, socially progressive storyline. I hope people can watch the show before making judgments. In times, as divisive as these, we need to stay unified, compassionate and understanding in our differences.”
While Jones seems sensitive to the overall issue of diversity in casting, the above statement isn’t the first time the actor has publicly defended both his casting as Danny, and the overall Iron Fist series in general. For example, Jones recently told Buzzfeed that he found accusations of Danny being a “white savior” were unfounded, and that those critical should wait until they see the final product before making judgments.
With Jones currently hard at work on the set of The Defenders, it makes sense that he would want to avoid distractions, although it would appear that he ultimately decided that dropping off of social media completely was a step too far. Jones has yet to post anything related to the issue on his Twitter account since reinstating it, and would seemingly prefer not to get wrapped up in another long debate on the subject.
Iron Fist season 1 premieres Friday, March 17 on Netflix.