If there's one Iron Fist narrative that has managed to persist in recent days (other than the fact that it's Marvel's first Netflix misfire), it's the roundabout controversy surrounding the fact that white actor Finn Jones plays Danny Rand. Yes, it's true that Danny Rand is white in the source material, but many fans argue that this show is the first great opportunity to bring an Asian hero into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As it turns out, Lewis Tan (who portrays Asian villain Zhou Cheng on the series) read for the role before Jones was finally cast. Tan explained:
I had a lot to offer here, but I knew that the character is white in the comic book, so I was concerned. But I thought at least I had a shot --- I'm half white and I do martial arts and I could easily play that role. So I was excited. And then I read for Danny and they liked me a lot. I read again and again and again, and it was a long process, and it got to the point where they were talking about my availability and my dates. That's always a good sign, you know? And then they went with Finn and they had me read for a villain part maybe two weeks later. I was in Spain, and I read for the part and I got it.
If you have ever interviewed for a job, then you already know what it's like to come in for a follow-up interview. Now imagine doing that over and over again -- only to not get it. That's the experience that Lewis Tan related to Vulture during a recent interview, and although he eventually did get to star in Iron Fist as one of the villains of the series -- and the one who had arguably the best fight sequence in the whole season -- he apparently had a very real shot at playing Danny Rand. This type of consolation casting has become quite common in superhero universes (such as Cillian Murphy becoming Scarecrow in The Dark Knight trilogy after losing out on Batman to Christian Bale), but the heritage differences between Tan and Jones are particularly noticeable in this case.
The significant impact of an Asian Iron Fist was not lost on Lewis Tan. He continued his account of the Iron Fist development process and addressed how making Danny Asian would've fundamentally overall tone and style of the show. Tan said:
Yeah, I read for Danny originally. I think they were highly considering it at one point in time, but it would have definitely changed the dynamic of the show. It would have been a different show.
Now that critics and fans have seen and judged Iron Fist, I think it might be safe to say that a different tone or style could've potentially been a good thing. The brand new Netflix series has received a notable backlash from the outside world not just for this particular controversy, but for the fact that it's simply not on par with Marvel's other streaming series. One of the more significant criticisms of the show has been the fact that Finn Jones isn't very convincing in the action sequences, so an actor who performs martial arts in real life could've helped sell Iron Fist as a badass street fighter.
Of course, none of this changes the fact that we're now one step closer to The Defenders. Iron Fist is now available to stream on Netflix, and The Defenders will premiere later this year. Check out our midseason premiere guide for more information related to the rest of 2017's remaining spring debuts!