‘Iron Fist’ Star Lewis Tan Reacts to Marvel Whitewashing Controversies
Long before Finn Jones was cast in the role of Netflix’s Iron Fist, Marvel made headlines with reports that it considered casting actors of Asian descent for the title character. That didn’t come to pass, nor did Marvel improve matters with certain Doctor Strange castings, to which Iron Fist star and Danny Rand auditionee Lewis Tan admits “I’m not the biggest fan of that casting choice.”
Variety spoke to a number of Asian actors of the still-controversial casting of Tilda Swinton as Doctor Strange character “The Ancient One,” among them Iron Fist star Lewis Tan. Tan went on to secure the Iron Fist role of Zhou Cheng, but has less appreciation for the Doctor Strange casting than Marvel hiring a Caucasian actor as Danny Rand.
I originally auditioned for the ['Iron Fist'] lead and was highly considered for it, but they went a different way. In the original comic, he was a Caucasian guy with blue eyes, blonde hair. I think Finn Jones fits that character very well, so I have no issues with that. […]
I’m not the biggest fan of [the Tilda Swinton] casting choice. I can see why they wanted to switch it up. Producers, studios, directors, writers — there’s a lot of voices. I think that an Asian woman would’ve been fantastic cast in that. They said she would be too much of a ‘Dragon Lady’ or too stereotypical, but I disagree.
Tan is likely referring to to recent Daily Beast comments from Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson, who acknowledged his culpability in the controversy. Derrickson revealed he’d initially thought only to switch The Ancient One’s gender from its comic origins as an Asian male, but subsequently worried about falling into the “Dragon Lady” stereotype of a mysterious Asian woman.
Time will tell if Marvel’s Iron Fist ends up representing Asian culture and casting with respect (Finn Jones certainly hopes so), but does Tan have a point about Danny Rand and The Ancient One offering separate challenges?