Finn Jones on ‘Iron Fist’ Diversity Controversy: ‘You Haven’t Even Seen the Show’

Iron Fist
Courtesy of Netflix

Finn Jones, the star of Netflix’s series “Iron Fist,” has responded to the backlash the Marvel series has garnered thus far.

Ahead of the series’ release onto the streaming service on March 17, Marvel has been criticized for its casting of a white man becoming the greatest champion of martial arts, and previously faced pressure to cast an Asian-American actor as the Iron First.

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Marvel's Iron Fist

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In an interview with Vulture, Jones was asked what his thoughts were regarding critics’ claim that “Iron Fist” was a racist story about a “white savior who learns Asian martial arts.” In response, Jones replied: “There’s so much outrage in the internet these days, right? Why don’t people just — look, the issue is that people are judging before they’ve even seen the show. And that’s problematic. C’mon. Don’t get angry and start a mob when you don’t even — you haven’t even seen the show! You don’t even know what we’re doing with it. It’s unjust. It’s unfair. ” he said.

He continued by acknowledging the need for more diversity in both the media and in general, but also urged people to watch the show before making judgments.

“I get it. There needs to be more diversity in film and television, in all f—g aspects of life. There needs to be more diversity, period. Unfortunately, this show was picked, for whatever reason. I don’t fully understand, really, but what I say is, Watch the show. Watch the show, then make your opinions,” he added. “Also, c’mon, let’s get angry at the real f—ing injustices in the world, yeah? The real problems in the world,” he later went on. “Not just in television. There’s some real s— happening in the world right now that people need to get angry about.”

The character of Danny Rand, who becomes the Iron Fist, has been portrayed as a white male since the “Iron Fist'”comics debuted in the 1970’s, during the climax of the American Kung-Fu craze. Nonetheless, there has been commentary that casting Rand’s character as white would ignore the criticism Marvel has received in the past for its relatively uniform group of headlining superheroes.

Before Jones was cast, fans started a widely circulated petition asking Marvel to cast an Asian-American in the series. Marvel executives didn’t heed the advice, but they’ve stuck by their decision, having called the “Game of Thrones” veteran the “perfect choice” for the role.

Read the full interview with Jones here.

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  1. William says:

    Danny Rand, in “Iron Fist” is the white, caucasian son of a white caucasian family that runs the Rand company. How could me be Asian and have the plot make sense?

  2. Jerry Pilato says:

    Hey how about giving us another season!!! I love Finn in this series.

  3. John says:

    What c**p! The PC bunch wants more diversity!! What could be more diverse than a white guy in a king-fu movie? Is it really about diversity? Or is it about racism against white guys?
    They can all go to Hell!

  4. Charles` Sitton says:

    People are going to cry about something. If they got a Asian American to play him, the fans of the comic would complain. And isnt it hypocritical for there to be a backlash for ghost in a shell bc a white woman is playing an Asian character but some of those same people want an Asian to play a white character?

  5. MinatoArise says:

    Um, well Danny Rand is white in cómics. I didnt like the series. Daredevil is the only​ ,for me, real marvel superhero series.

  6. There is literally nothing wrong with him being white, as it matches the source material. What I take offense to (as a person that’s trained in martial arts) is that they couldn’t cast an actor with a martial arts background. They were never going to make him Asian, but they could have done that. His form and technique were a bit aggravating to watch at times, especially when you see him right next to someone that had obviously trained. For example Jessica Henwick (Colleen) is trained in Wushu IRL, and it showed through when they’re doing that form together close to the end. The sad reality though, is good martial artists that are also good actors tend to be few and far between.

    As far as the topic of race goes, my personal rule of thumb is that its only OK to change the race of the character if its not apart of the character’s identity. Given the time when many comic were written some characters are just White by default. Most non-white characters are so with reason, even if for shallow or stereotypical reasons. Wakanda for example, is supposed to be a African nation that is somehow both technologically advanced and tribal in nature. The tribal nature predicates them being black Africans and thus the Black Panther’s race is essential to the character. Tony Stark comes from old American money, as such could only ever be White. Take a character like Superman, there actually isn’t any practical reason for him to stay white. He’s only white to appeal to a 1930’s fan base. Hell, Peter Parker’s back story would work just as good (if not better) if he were Black or Hispanic. Danny Rand is actually written white on purpose for the character and story.

  7. MARVELsHero says:

    DANNY RAND IS WHITE NOT ASIAN fans wanting to change that are being stereotypical themselves ..one guy here says Iron fist is supposed to be the greatest Asian Martial Artist in the world..News Flash Danny Randy is white its the whole point that a lost American boy becomes a great Martial Artist while lost on a foreign land..a great premise it worked most recently on Arrow..it could have worked for Iron Fist but the action scenes werent up to the level of quality as Daredevil. Thats Neflix and Marvels fault for not using the same team who made Daredevil .Finn Jones has gotta hit the Gym and dojo for the next six months and get his body ready to be Iron Fist ..it was rushed and the cast is great buy physically he needs to get there ..Hugh Jackman did it for Wolverine..Finn can do it for Iron Fist..the fans are with you Finn ..become Iron Fist

    • Subi says:

      The problem is with Marvel originally using white people to appropriate and master Asian culture and martial arts, and heavily stereotyping minorities. Translations from one medium to another often change, but what would really suffer from casting Rand with a half-American, half-Asian actor?

      I only see the benefits of casting Lewis Tam over Finn Jones because Tam has actual martial arts experience and could have met the demands of the choreography that Finn clearly struggles with. You can’t master martial arts in just a few short months, and it’s risky and illogical to hire someone with little to no knowledge of kung fu, than it is to hire someone with an insightful mastery of it, for a show that heavily relies on martial arts as a selling point.

      Had Tan landed the role of Iron Fist, the show would be a lot different to what it is now. For one, fight scenes can flow better when you’re not having to do dozens of takes to edit together because the guy you hired is a novice.

      After seeing Tan in action on the show (as a villain), I found him to be far more animated and wanted to see more of him than I did Finn.

  8. You just read this? Get a life. Put that thing down and go outside.

  9. bliz says:

    how can you whitewash a show based on a character that was white in the original source material?…if anything, they have been ‘minority washing’ white characters created by white people and largely consumed and enjoyed by whites….the identity politics and manufactured outrage thingy by a select few whining on social media has become such obnoxious vacuous rubbish

  10. Michael Fong says:

    Hi, I just wanted to say, his kungfu is abysmal. The Tai Chi is worse than my grandma’s, literally, with his butt all out and the stiff shoulders.

    I can respect the actors for Green Arrow and Daredevil who put in effort to learn fight moves. Even kpop stars and female pop stars have put in more effort than this chap. So I expect more for someone who is supposed to act as the greatest Asian martial artist of all time in this day and age.

    Also his understanding of chinese manners and etiquette is terrible. In fact, nearly nonexistent. Like his Mandarin. Which is literally gibberish. No one in China would understand him. Like I said, near zero effort.

    The actor seems to live in a dream state. He needs to wake up and stop acting like we are in stereotype producing 50s where your relatives have never seem an east asian or african man before and there aren’t any Confucian Institutes on US college campuses and China isn’t buying up the world.

  11. Charmaine says:

    Why didn’t you connect the dots? Make it work so it made sense. Green Arrow was so much better put together and even the ridiculous Flash was better. YOU could’ve made IRON FIST great!!!!! Storyline awful…You could have brought it all back with dignity and integrity by putting it together. Within the 13 seasons…You screwed up where you would have put dignity within not having an Asian in the role. I cannot believe it when there was an opportunity to make this a great series. Danny is a spoiled messed up individual who trusts everyone – and shocked and amazed that he is around lies – he does not get the facts – that means he doesn’t trust his own intuition which is all part of being centered, having your chi. Then the one person, Colleen is who you decide to separate from Danny. AND then it is ok that JOY can reconnect with her father, forget her brother, and then act like everything is back to normal. You make Ward go away and at the hands of his father. WOW!! Disappointed…..and then DAVOS his friend you make it a big deal about him coming back for his friend, what??? What a shame….now you want to bring Iron Fist as part of the Defenders? OMG. Jessica Jones is also another poor ass script. Jessica is always drinking – where Danny is at his whiny stupid, unintelligent stage bringing him to rage….addictive behaviors instead of making it about doing good with it.

  12. Charmaine says:

    What a shame that this was delivered in a piss poor manner. The storyline was there but some of the script lines were horrible. Ridiculous. It could have been done better. Danny’s lines is aimlessly out of line-nothing is connecting. WHAT you did is make Iron Fist a terrible story? Why? You could have made it great. Instead you made Danny an idiot, not about Asians. You couldn’t have written where it all connected. Instead he is a blubbering idiot. I need answers….stupid! Gather all the facts first but NO you made he reactively overboard stupid. Always angry and not ‘what’ the whole idea of what the Iron Fist is about. All centered around killing, betrayal, and not where he finds answers to piece things together intelligently with intuition…someone with those skills and gift. The idea is all about that not this stupid character you made out of Danny. Danny the actor (Finn Jones) was too all over the place. Too long to get to the point. 13 seasons of what? NOTHING. What a shame because you had a lot of actors/actresses who have potential to make this movie collectively work. Even the main Actor. The lines for him were worse the kindergarten….WHAT THE HELL did you do? Yeah he wanted to have answers but all from anger and rage.

  13. I get why people are mad, but if they’d do a little bit of research before they get mad (since it ~is~ a marvel show,) They’d see that there’s nothing wrong with casting a white person in a white role. Sure, it would be nice if they grabbed an attractive, muscle-bound asian guy for the role, but ultimately as long as the show doesn’t insult the culture in doing so, I don’t see a problem. I personally felt a way about the show till i looked up the character and actually ~watched~ the first few episodes

  14. Jason says:

    Really? We want talented people and interesting storylines. After watching a few episodes of Iron Fist and seeing the female Japanese martial arts expert beat the MMA cage fighter I realized (I know I’m a little slow) that the whole thing is BS. That’s why men’s and women’s combative Sports are separated once they get into their teens. That’s real life. I don’t care how good you are at the martial arts, it’s still just a fight. There is no way on God’s green earth that anybody would put a woman against a man in a UFC ring no matter what the skill level. The people who write the scripts live in a false fairytale world and it’s really tiresome to see that kind of nonsense on the screen.

    • Jason says:

      Sorry, I hit the report key instead of the reply key because I couldn’t find a way to edit my comment. Regarding the so-called Asian martial arts Masters, read Robert W Smith’s Chinese boxing Masters and methods. Most of the traditional Chinese boxing Masters were murdered by the Communists and generations before were killed in the Boxer Rebellion. There still were many Masters remaining on the mainland and Taiwan but they were few and far between. Many Americans and Europeans went to Taiwan and China and learned a lot of what these Chinese Masters had to teach. today many Americans and Europeans know more about Chinese boxing and Japanese martial arts than the Chinese and the Japanese, and some of them can really use it. Donn Draeger was a perfect example.

  15. Jake says:

    What a stretch. Why should an asain american be cast. Its obvious asain american is pointed toward chinese or japanese decent even though martail arts probably began closer to india. He also learned from monks in the Himalayas, should it not be a himalayan american. Are they saying all asains know kung fu, are they saying russia, himalaya and india are part of Asian decent. Do they just think martail arts means chinese, does no one understand geography. People get so offended that they sound even more racist demanding things like casting “Asian americans.”

  16. Allen Hines says:

    Tell me again about how unbelievable it is to have Non-Asians, specifically, ‘White Men’? I’m sure this table of current MMA champions might be construed as totally contradicting your whole assertion.

  17. Bill says:

    Really? Let’s change the race of an established character to satisfy a group of people who probably never picked up an issue.

  18. Jiggins says:

    As an Asian guy and fan of Marvel, I don’t think it should be an Asian Guy playing the lead. I’d hope they would just stick to portraying all characters as they do in the comics. What I find amusing is the same white people crying foul at these criticisms of Iron Fist were pretty mum on the Mandarin or the Ancient One. When we complain about whitewashing, white people call us thin skinned. When we request a character be changed to Asian, it’s “OMG that’s racist!”

  19. Ralph says:

    Seems fairly racist to suggest it should be an Asian guy playing the martial arts superhero….

  20. Nice callback to the American Kung-Fu craze and the granddaddy of all whitewashing in David Carradine! Brava!

  21. rchu says:

    Good to know he doesn’t think Asian American issues is “real shit”. And what part of the story am I not understanding? The part about a white guy taking an aspect of Asian culture and somehow being better at it then all Asian people and getting the Asian girl?

  22. Nathan Morrison says:

    Not only have critics not seen the show – they clearly haven’t read the Comics. Not only is Danny Rand a caucasian, his parents are killed in the same plane crash that strands him initially. Only by being taken in and brought up by (extraordinarily awesome) locals turns him into the Iron Fist. It’s at its core a story about learning to appreciate the culture of others. Rand eventually goes on to form a key friendship with Luke Cage in the Marvel Universe – forming Heroes for Hire – probably one of my favorite comic story arcs of all time DUE TO IT’S FOCUS ON DIVERSITY, INCLUSION, AND THE BFF RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN A BLACK AND WHITE SUPERHERO – BOTH MISUNDERSTOOD… Sorry for the all caps but sheesh ppl. I understand being outraged about Tilda Swinton being cast as the Ancient One (a traditionally asian character), because Marvel (admittedly) didn’t know how to write the role without sounding racist (which is astounding in and of itself). Yes – get pissed at Marvel for that. But Danny Rand? Holy cow ppl this is a story about a caucasian orphan learning about culture and diversity and coming home to fight cultural injustice. #ReadingIsFundamental

    • notacuck says:

      cuck.

    • Jiggins says:

      They didn’t know how to write the role? How about an actual Asian person playing an Asian character? What just because they decide to go with an Asian they have make him an old fu Manchu type? How about a young Asian guy or gal? Tilda isn’t exactly a thousand years old but white people seemed to like the fit.

    • I haven’t seen the show yet, but from what I’ve gathered from the images I’ve seen and several reviews is that the criticism is also about the (mis-)casting of Finn Jones as Danny Rand. The Iron Fist is supposed to be the best martial artist in the world and Jones seems to have less energy than the average stoner and as much skill in martial arts as a teenager with a green belt (or less). The drawings of Iron Fist evoke so much wiry, muscular energy and fun, and Jones seems as bland as a potato. The fight scenes are apparently the worst of the Netflix shows. So I think people are disappointed that the showrunners were not more ambitious and tried to make the show more interesting and compelling. Casting a man with decent fighting skills (Asian or other) would certainly have helped. I really don’t get why people are so offended by the suggestion that the character could have been of another ethnicity.

      • Rex says:

        Agreed! But I likewise don’t get why people are so offended by the suggestion that the character remain Caucasian just as he has ALWAYS been in the comic. Making him Asian, while not a bad idea in concept, would require a MASSIVE rewrite of the character to accommodate his Asian heritage, relationships with other characters, cultural baggage, and everything else.

        If Marvel wanted silence the critics of Iron Fist, they’d build a show based on Shang Chi, Master of Kung Fu, their LONG RUNNING, extremely successful 70’s and 80’s comic book character that was, in fact, an Asian man, and a virile, debonair and dangerous hero to boot, yet one created with at least a fair amount of respect to his cultural heritage (while still being rooted in the 70’s Hong Kong/Kung fu/exploitation aesthetic!

        Instead of demanding rewrites of historically significant comic book characters (even second-tier ones), Asians, Asian-Americans and non-Asian critics should be RALLYING to have this character made flesh and blood for TV or the movies, perhaps even to have him introduced in either Luke Cage or Iron Fist or the inevitable team-up series (provided all this whining doesn’t scotch that before it can ever happen).

    • W0NK042 says:

      Thank-you for covering pretty much everything I was going to say, about the comics. :)

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