Late last week, Inverse published an interview Roy Thomas, co-creator with Gil Kane of the comic book character Danny Rand a.k.a. The Iron Fist. Obviously, with the unveiling of the Netflix show about the character, Thomas' creation is gathering renewed attention—not all of it positive.
During the interview, Thomas spoke on some of the controversy surrounding the lead character's race. Although Rand is white in the original comic, many people have wondered why the new incarnation of the martial-arts-loving hero couldn't actually be Asian—and, in fact, an Asian-American actor was considered for the role. But Thomas had no time for such talk.
I have so little patience for some of the feelings that some people have. I mean, I understand where it’s coming from. You know, cultural appropriation, my god. It’s just an adventure story. Don’t these people have something better to do than to worry about the fact that Iron Fist isn’t Oriental, or whatever word? I know Oriental isn’t the right word now, either.
He was a character for a comic book at a different time. It’s very easy to second-guess anything. You can argue about Tarzan, you can argue about almost any character who came up then is bound to be not quite PC by some later standard or other. Okay, so you can make some adjustments. If they wanted to kill off white Iron Fist and come up with one who wasn’t Caucasian, that wouldn’t have bothered me, but neither am I ashamed for having made up one who was. He wasn’t intended to stand for any race. He was just a man who was indoctrinated into a certain thing.
Despite Thomas' pleas that "if they had decided to make Iron Fist an Asian, that would have been fine with me, too," many people took umbrage with his answer—in particular, his usage of the term "Oriental." One of those people was a star of Iron Fist, Jessica Henwick, who plays Colleen Wing. On Tuesday, Wing tweeted a rebuke to Thomas:
But Henwick was far from the only one bothered by Thomas' use of the term.
You can see Iron Fist (if you're willing to ignore all the bad reviews) on Netflix.