A somewhat heated discussion between an Iron Fist fan and Finn Jones, the actor who plays the superhero character for Netflix’s upcoming series, erupted on Twitter last Sunday.
“Iron Fist” has first stirred controversy for missing the opportunity to cast an Asian actor in the role rather than rehash a tired narrative. The exchange, which revolved around the topic, eventually ended with Jones temporarily deactivating his Twitter account.
It all began when the former “Game of Thrones” actor shared a recent speech on the importance of representation from “Rogue One” actor Riz Ahmed on Twitter.
Some fans, however, found his sentiments ironic since he accepted a role that was widely blasted for cultural appropriation. Many point out that Iron Fist’s origin uses the overused Orientalist tropes: a boy ends up in a mystical land in the Himalayas, and becomes the stereotypical “great white savior.”
Geeks of Color creative director Asyiqin Haron responded to Jones’ tweet by asking, “are you for real?”
Jones then responded by writing, “yes I am for real. Please don’t make assumptions on our show before you have seen it. The characterization of Danny Rand may have remained true to its source material but our show incorporates and celebrates actors from all different backgrounds. I will go as far to say that it may be one of the most diverse shows out of the three.”
Jones further explained that the new “Iron Fist” series will be addressing representation issues from the comic character. No matter which way he explained it, however, he ends up coming off as “whitesplaining” a sensitive issue to a person of color.
— Shaun Lau (@NoTotally) March 5, 2017
At one point, Jones wrote: “I get it, but changing the character isn’t the solution. It’s better to keep his flaws and inspect them.”
Asyiqin Haron responded with: “Making Danny Asian doesn’t change his character, though.”
In October of last year, Haron penned an article explaining why having an Asian-American actor play the role of Danny Rand would add more depth to the character and save the narrative from being in the tired white savior trope.
She also pointed out that doing so would not be a racist stereotype if the character is treated with respect and made to be more than just being good at martial arts.
“The Asian audience is getting tired of seeing white people be the saviour. We want to be the heroes too,” Haron wrote. “We want to be the ones to save our people, protect them from harm, lead them towards victory.”
She then added: “When Finn Jones was casted as Danny Rand, my first reaction was disappointment. Here we have another white saviour. Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure Jones will do an amazing job as Danny and I am excited to see him in action. I just think it’s about time we have more Asian superheroes in the MCU and more heroic Asian characters in film.”
After the brief exchange, it was noticed that Jones deleted his Twitter account.
“I wonder why Finn Jones deleted his acco- oh.”
Pro-tip: Explaining Asian appropriation and rep to Asians is generally not appreciated. https://t.co/joRrHZiiKm
— Sy Almans (@syalmans) March 6, 2017
He would later release a statement to Deadline saying that he left Twitter because he needed to “stay focused” on filming “The Defenders”. “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,” Jones said.
Jones returned to Twitter on Monday afternoon.