Actor Finn Jones, best known for playing Loras Tyrell on Game Of Thrones, has deleted his Twitter account after becoming embroiled in a heated argument about onscreen Asian-American representation, specifically in regards to his upcoming Netflix show Iron Fist.
The debate was sparked after Jones retweeted Riz Ahmed's speech to the British Parliament about the vitality of minority representation in the media, as Vulture first noted. Asyiqin Haron of Geeks of Color — an online community that highlights diversity in the comics world — found the actor's support of Ahmed's statement ironic given the fact that he is starring in Netflix's Marvel show, out later this month. Haron is just one of the many critics who think that by casting a white lead, Iron Fist is propagating stereotypical orientalism and the problematic white savior narrative.
Although Jones' character, Danny Rand, is white in the comics that the show is based on, there were hopes that the showrunners would take the opportunity cast an Asian-American actor in the role. This decision would avoid reiterating the offensive white savior trope we've seen in films like The Last Samurai, Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom, and The Great Wall, all of which involve a white man going to Asia to master martial arts, gain ancient wisdom, and then save the day. And, of course, Danny would've been the first Asian-American superhero in Marvel's cinematic universe.
Jones fiercely defended the show for remaining faithful to the comics while incorporating a diverse supporting cast and tackling Danny's flaws head-on. "The characterization of Danny Rand may have remained true to its source material but our show incorporates and celebrates actors from all different backgrounds," he wrote in tweets, screenshotted below. "I will go as far [as] to say that it may be one of the most diverse shows out of the three.”
He continue to reply to Haron's objections: "there are a lot of characteristics in Danny which are problematic, that's the point, rather than shy away from them we.. inspect them. It makes for a rich, intelligent, thought provoking show... changing the character isn't the solution, it's better to keep his flaws and inspect them."
Jones went on: "a more progressive way forward is to hold the problems up to account, whilst also highlighting characters that are diverse .. and nuanced which already exists in the canon. there are many examples in the show but one that really stands out is.. Colleen, a very well written and represented asian american female lead. i understand your frustration and I can assure you.. all of us making this show care about creating a socially.. progressive story whilst keeping true to the comic book fan base."
The actor left Twitter following the back-and-forth this weekend, while Haron defended herself from critics. "We were talking about representation in the Iron Fist series but people are interpreting it as me harassing him. I was being respectful," she tweeted. "1. It was a civil exchange. 2. There was no personal malice. 3. He didn't quit his job now did he?" She makes a great point.
While the controversial casting decision of the show can't be undone, that doesn't mean the show is doomed to be racially regressive. We look forward to seeing how Iron Fist addresses race and representation when it hits Netflix on March 17.
Refinery29 has reached out to Jones' team for comment and will update this story should they reply.