There are a lot of things to complain about in regards to Marvel's Iron Fist, and the casting is certainly around the top of that list. Once upon a time, the studio apparently considered side-stepping the whitewashing complaints and looked at an Asian American for the starring gig — then decided to cast Finn Jones anyway.
Vulture has an interview with Asian American actor Lewis Tan, who reveals he initially auditioned to play Danny Rand before being cast as the Episode 8 villain Zhou Cheng. Tan has a boatload of TV and film credits; he's also an accomplished martial artist, and son of respected stunt coordinator Philip Tan ... so yeah, the kung-fu required to play the Iron Fist would not have been much of a stretch. He said the producers were "highly considering" going with an Asian actor during casting but eventually opted for a white actor in Jones.
Tan said he believes it could've been a fresh angle to have an Asian American, who doesn't have many ties to his heritage, go on that journey to become the Iron Fist. Which is something a whole lot of other people have said as well. Here's an excerpt from his comments:
"I personally think it would have been a really interesting dynamic to see this Asian American guy who's not in touch with his Asian roots go and get in touch with them and discover this power. I think that's super interesting and we've never seen that. We've seen this narrative already; we've seen it many times. So I thought it would be cool and that it would add some more color to The Defenders.
"And obviously I can do my own fight sequences, so those would be more dynamic. I think it would be really interesting to have that feeling of an outsider. There's no more of an outsider than an Asian American: We feel like outsiders in Asia and we feel like outsiders at home. That's been really difficult — especially for me. It's been hard for me, because in the casting world, it's very specific. So when they see me and I’m six-two, I'm a 180 pounds, I'm a muscular half-Asian dude. They're like, 'Well, I don't know what to do with this guy.' They're like, 'He's not Asian, he's not white … no.' That's what I've been dealing with my whole life. So I understand those frustrations of being an outsider. Like Danny's character. I understand him very well."
It really sounds like Tan has a take on what his Danny Rand could've been like, and it's a fun thought exercise to wonder how this project might've turned out with someone other than Finn Jones in the lead role. No offense to Jones, but his version of Danny was a bit on the bland side.
What do you think? Is Jones the Iron Fist you always wanted, or would you have liked to see someone like Tan take up the mantle?