“Not everything is black and white…unless you make it that way.”
Let’s start with this… YES, there is a need for more representation in Hollywood. FACT. Not Tyler Perry roles, Mobsters, Martial Artists… just pick your stereotype. Listen I completely understand why Scarlett Johansson was cast as The Major for Ghost in the Shell, but I don’t agree with it. Like many, I could’ve seen at least a few Asian actresses for the role, but why am I not up in arms about Iron Fist? That’s because I know the source material. Danny Rand aka Iron Fist is a white guy. Much like Batman or Iron Man he comes from money, but unlike the aforementioned his story is more unique than justice or reimaging.
Without going into any of the details (seriously, GOOGLE IS YOUR FRIEND) I’ll say this… he’s just one guy in a show that is seeming to be pretty well diverse. Luke Cage by comparison was full of POC but lacked in the diversity department. There’s a difference, you can’t have 95% of a show’s cast be of one race, but then say the 5% of the other counts as diversity. I’m not here for that discussion but can give one in the comments below. Now going back to the topic at hand… YES there is “WHITEWASHING” going on in Hollywood and it’s a problem, but to take away every white role for someone of color does not help the problem.
I want to say this… take a few moments and name all of the POC characters in any DC / Marvel comic that you can think of. Now take a moment and think of how many of them are main characters or supporting characters. How many people have you come up with? Over 5? Over 10? Or 20? With shows and movies like Black Panther and Luke Cage coming out we are seeing more POC in mainstream media. Not typecast, but in major roles that show them as HEROES! What if we replaced those characters like Black Panther and Luke Cage and replaced them? Would we be right? Is the problem merely changing the casting or is it introducing more diversity?
The Flash right now is doing an amazing job with diversity in a superhero genre show. The Captain is openly gay. The West family are POC as well as Cisco Ramon. All recurring characters on the show. It’s all possible, but there’s a way to do everything. Changes to characters origin stories have major consequences no matter how you slice it. Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm in the Fantastic 4 movie received a huge backlash, and without much reason as he played the role well. The movie itself not doing well was not the result of the casting. In a play Hermione was casted as a black woman and with a lot of backlash as well. That was at least until J.K. Rowling stated that she never once described the skin of Hermione.
Here’s my point… We can not cry over staying true to the source material, but in the same breath complain that the casted actor’s origin does not fit the stereotype of the character in question. ScarJo being The Major was a choice made by execs who have defended her casting and has been met with open arms in some of the Asian community, but not here. Let’s let the acting speak for itself and then complain about the decisions and the “I told you so” for later. There is a need for some sprinkles in the otherwise vanilla Hollywood scene, but I guarantee that over time as Superheroes begin to emerge more and more we will see a change in scenery. That being said Danny Rand is a martial arts master of the Marvel universe. Is he white? YES. He also happens to be the most humble about this. He takes it all seriously and I think we should too.