Netflix's "Iron Fist" has its fair share of critics, both for the disappointing quality of the latest Marvel series and the fact that its protagonist is a white man trained in vaguely Asian martial arts, but the superhero's creator doesn't care about "cultural appropriation and crap like that."
"It looked like a pretty good adaptation," former Marvel Comics staff writer and editor-in-chief Roy Thomas told Inverse. "Although, then, of course, people began making me aware of the fact that some people are complaining — as I think they have over the years — about cultural appropriation and crap like that, which just makes me furious."
Unlike other Hollywood whitewashing controversies, usually sparked by a white actor portraying or replacing a character of another ethnicity, Marvel's Iron First -- a.k.a. a rich New York heir named Danny Rand -- was always white and Thomas he has no regrets.
"I have so little patience for some of the feelings that some people have," Thomas said. "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," he continued. "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."
Thomas argued the character isn't "racist or degrading to a sex or race" and explained his rationale for making the superhero a white man. "It's all about a fictitious race, a fictitious place like a Shangri-La, and one person who happens to be its emissary," he said. "There's no reason why he can't be Caucasian."
Thomas added he doesn't "have much sympathy at all to trigger warnings or any of that crap," but he "would have been fine" if Marvel decided to make the character Asian to begin with before Iron Fist made his comic book debut in 1974.
"I wouldn't have cared," he said. "I didn't consider myself the safeguard of some kind of Caucasian literary standard or anything like that. But I would have found it easier to write about a Caucasian, so that's one reason I probably did it. If somebody had suggested, 'You want to make it so he's Asian?' Well, we could have done that too."
For Thomas, he finds being creative more constructive than being a critic, and urged those who are unhappy with portrayals of superheroes to go make their own.
"I just think some people have too much time on their hands, I guess," he said. "They have an infinite capacity for righteous indignation. By and large, that tends to be misplaced quite often because if you're becoming all upset over things that are just stories, and if you don't like it, instead of trying to change somebody else's story, go out and make up your own character and do a good job of it. That's just fine, but why waste time trying to run down other people's characters simply because they weren't created with your standards in mind?"