Marvel Almost Cast Chinese-American Actor Lewis Tan as Danny Rand in IRON FIST
There's been a lot of controversy surrounding Marvel's decision to cast Finn Jones in the role of Danny Rand in Iron Fist because he's white. A lot of people feel that the role should've gone to an Asian actor. This has been a hot topic with Scarlett Johansson being cast as The Major in Ghost in the Shell and Tilda Swinton being cast as The Ancient One in Doctor Strange.
I personally don't care who is cast in any film or TV series as long as they are a right fit for the role they are playing and they fit the story and themes of the project the creative team is developing.
I never had any issues with Jones being cast in the role of Iron Fist because Danny Rand was always a white guy in the comics. That's all I ever knew the character as. Had they cast an Asain actor in the role, though, I wouldn't have complained or thrown a fit over it. I just go with the flow of what Marvel does because they know what they're doing and they know what they want when developing their projects.
It turns out that Marvel almost hired a Chinese-American actor to take on the role of Danny Rand. That actor is Lewis Tan, who ended up playing the villain Zhou Cheng in the series. In a recent interview with Vulture, the actor opened up about the process he went through in almost landing the role saying:
"Yeah, I read for Danny originally. I think they were highly considering it at one point in time, but it would have definitely changed the dynamic of the show. It would have been a different show.
"I had a lot to offer here, but I knew that the character is white in the comic book, so I was concerned. But I thought at least I had a shot - I’m half white and I do martial arts and I could easily play that role. So I was excited. And then I read for Danny and they liked me a lot. I read again and again and again, and it was a long process, and it got to the point where they were talking about my availability and my dates. That’s always a good sign, you know? And then they went with Finn and they had me read for a villain part maybe two weeks later."
It would have been interesting to see what Marvel would have done with an Asian-American Danny Rand. The series could've included a story about an Asian-American learning more about his Asian roots. Tan went on to talk about how an Asian-American version of Iron Fist would have given the upcoming Defenders series an "interesting dynamic" saying:
"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. I understand those frustrations of being an outsider. Like Danny’s character. I understand him very well."
Tan said he understands why Marvel chose to cast ones as Rand, and holds no ill will toward anyone involved with the development of Iron Fist. He does say it's a missed opportunity for Marvel and he hopes things will change. He explains:
"It is a missed opportunity. That’s exactly how I feel about it, word for word. It would’ve been a brave thing to do, for sure, for Marvel. I can see how that was difficult to make that decision. I think, personally, it would’ve paid off. But I think it’ll come next because people are feeling underrepresented. People are like, 'Yo, this was a perfect opportunity to represent us.' They chose not to, and it’s not even their fault. I see why they stuck to the source material because it’s very risky to move away from that, but they’ll move away from it in other areas and in other shows where they’ll take an Asian character and make him white. So you can’t really win with that argument. Because we’ve seen many times when they’ve taken Asian characters and made him white.
It's interesting to think what the show could've been had they hired Tan in the role of Iron Fist. I wonder if the show would have been met with better reviews. Would have he been a better actor than Jones in the role? I guess we'll never know. I personally like Jones as Danny Rand, though, and I've been enjoying the show so far. I may be in the minority on that, but if I said I wasn't enjoying it, I'd be lying. It tells a good and intriguing story.
What do you think about all thins? Do you think Marvel should've gone with Tan in the role or are you happy with what Jones has done with the role?