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Star Wars

Diversity in Sci-Fi and Comics

Two sort of related articles:

I thought this was an interesting way to view Superman.

Re-imagining classic characters as nonwhite may not always be as much of a stretch as the purists would have you believe. Take a closer look at some of the most popular comics franchises out here, and if you cock your head ever so slightly, you'll start to wonder if white really is the only color that matches these stories.

For starters, set aside the way Joe Shuster and hundreds of comics artists since have rendered Superman, and take another look at the hero's backstory: a dark-haired refugee from a distant, exotic place, where people have weird, hyphenated names like Jor-El and Lor-Van. Once he arrives in America, he is transracially (trans-specially?) adopted by parents in the Heartland, and raised to "fit in" with everyone else, but also to preserve and appreciate his hidden heritage.

He moves to the big city, where he hides behind dorky glasses and displays a humble, passive persona to his co-workers. But in his spare time, he embraces his true self, gathers with others like himself and lets it all hang out.

To sum up? That dude Asian.

Then i read this about the casting of a white Iron Fist.

When it comes to Danny Rand, a.k.a. Iron Fist, his story is essentially one of being an outsider in a mystical Asian city and learning the ways of the city's people. (It's steeped in Orientalism, but that's lengthy, separate discussion on its own.) Obviously Rand being white makes him stick out, and there are elements of his backstory, like his wealth, that are key to his experience -- a hero forged from painful experiences and having everything taken away from him.

What's tricky is coming up with a reason other than "this is the way it's always been" to explain why Rand must be a white guy to fully tell Rand's story. A half-Asian American boy or a black teenager or even a Latina girl from pretty much any American city would be just as freaked out and feel just as isolated if they were dropped into a magical Asian city. (Other characters, like Misty Knight, Rand's love interest, have already been cast. Changing Rand's race and gender would inevitably alter that story, and interactions he has with other characters. But let's just go with the hypothetical here.)

I don't buy that Danny Rand's whiteness is as integral to his character as Storm or Luke Cage's black skin, or Magneto surviving the Holocaust.

I'm kinda on the fence about the whole thing. I mean you've got the mystical kung fu city where the white guy shows up and is the best of the best. But would casting an Asian person in the role of Daniel Rand have made it better? Cause now you've got "Asian Guy Who's Really Good at Kung Fu". But any chance to get an Asian actor cast in a prominent role should be grabbed, so...i dunno. I'm sure i'll enjoy the Iron Fist mini-series as much as i've enjoyed Daredevil and Jessica Jones. Would i have cheered a bit to see a minority play the hero? Prolly.

Please please please just don't put him in those stupid slippers. Please.

Also wit, Carrie-Ann Moss' gender-swapped, lesbian Jeri Hogarth was amazing.

By min | March 4, 2016, 1:21 PM | Comics & Star Wars | Comments (13)| Link

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