The co-creator of the “Iron Fist” comic, Roy Thomas, used a racial slur in describing people of Asian descent that has irked the main Asian star of the Netflix adaptation.
Jessica Henwick, the lead actress on Netflix’s “Iron Fist”, took an issue of the word “Oriental” which Thomas used to refer a person’s race in an interview with Inverse.
The 24-year-old actress, who plays the role of Colleen Wing on the controversial series, is of mixed-race background, being the daughter of a Singaporean-Chinese mother and Zambian-English father.
Henwick took to Twitter to express her disagreement by writing, “Oriental is a term used to describe rugs, not people.”
Oriental is a term used to describe rugs, not people.
— Jessica Henwick 🐒 (@JHenwick) March 21, 2017
In the interview, Thomas had expressed that those who were complaining about the Finn Jones casting as lead character Danny Rand had too much time on their hands.
“I have so little patience for some of the feelings that some people have. I mean, I understand where it’s coming from. You know, cultural appropriation, my god,” Thomas was quoted as saying.
“It’s just an adventure story. Don’t these people have something better to do than to worry about the fact that Iron Fist isn’t Oriental, or whatever word? I know Oriental isn’t the right word now, either.”
Thomas created Iron Fist with artist Gil Kane in 1974 to be a blond man named Danny Rand, using Asian lore and symbolism in developing the character.
While many saw this as a missed chance to have a prominent Asian hero in the Marvel comic universe at the time, some were hopeful that Netflix’s version would have this corrected by giving the lead role to an Asian or an Asian-American.
Actor Lewis Tan auditioned for the role but was instead given the part of the villain Zhou Cheng.
And while Finn’s portrayal of the Martial Arts hero was largely panned by critics, Tan’s brief scenes on the show have been praised by many.
In earlier interviews, Tan called the casting a “missed opportunity.”
“That’s exactly how I feel about it, word for word. It would’ve been a brave thing to do, for sure, for Marvel…” Tan said. “I think, personally, it would’ve paid off…”