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Iron Fist actor leaves Twitter after confronting racial issues in series (update)

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Actor says people need to give the show a chance

Marvel's Iron Fist NYCC Craig Barritt/Getty Images for Netflix

Iron Fist actor Finn Jones has deleted his Twitter account following a conversation over the controversy surrounding the actor’s casting in the show.

The entire ordeal started on Sunday when Jones quote tweeted Rogue One actor Riz Ahmed, who shared a link to a talk he gave about the importance of representation in film. Jones quoted the tweet, writing, “representation is important. here’s why.” The irony — Jones is playing a white character who studies martial arts and becomes better than his Asian counterparts — was not lost on Twitter, who retweeted Jones with their own incredulous disbelief.

It wasn’t until Asyiqin Haron, creative director for Geeks of Color (an “online community that highlights diversity in the world of geek”) responded to the tweet in which Jones defended himself and the show. In his series of tweets, which have seen been deleted but Haron took a screenshot of, Jones asks people not to judge the show until they’ve seen it. He also calls the series one of the most diverse, saying it “incorporates and celebrates actors from all different backgrounds.”

When Jones was first announced as the titular character last March, fans made their displeasure over the fact that Danny Rand would be played by a white actor known. In the comics, Danny Rand is white, but before Marvel and Netflix made the casting announcement, many were hopeful the role would be given to an Asian actor. Fans argued that Rand’s story of isolation and being an outsider is a frustration many Asian-American people deal with.

Rand’s story could be much more powerful told from an Asian-American perspective. Just because the character was created as a white man in the 1970s didn’t mean he had to remain that way in the 2017 Netflix version of the show. His skin color was not as integral to the story as other comic book characters. For example, Luke Cage’s ability to repel bullets has a much stronger meaning because of his skin color. Rand’s ethnicity, on the other hand, doesn’t play a crucial role in the storytelling Marvel is trying to get across.

Jones is aware of the concerns fans have surrounding the character and has addressed them prior to the Twitter conversation. At New York Comic Con last year, Jones talked about it briefly on stage during the panel for the show. Jones said he understood where fans were coming from with their concern, but reiterated it was simply too early to judge.

“We're working with Netflix and Marvel, two of the most leading entertainment companies in the world right now," Jones said. "They know exactly what they're doing. We have an incredibly diverse cast; incredibly talented.

"What I would say to that is, wait until you've seen the show, and then pass judgment, before you make comment, because people will be very, very, very pleasantly surprised with what we're doing in the show."

No one from Marvel or Netflix has tweeted about the conversation, nor have any of Jones’ co-stars. Iron Fist debuts in full on March 17.

Update: Jones has returned to Twitter and released a statement about why he deleted his account in the first place. It can be read below.

There is a huge benefit to engage and help shape conversations on social media, especially when it comes to giving a voice to social matters. My original intention was to amplify a speech made by Riz Ahmed at the House of Commons. It was a very articulate and important speech on representation that I wholly agreed with. After posting I was inundated by people accusing me of not being allowed to share his voice based on an assumption that our show is going to play into the problems of racial inequality on screen. I engaged politely, diplomatically and attempted to bridge the divide. I’m currently in the middle of filming and I need to stay focused on bringing to life this character without judgment, so I decided to remove myself from twitter for the time being.

I am very proud of the work everyone has done on this series and I’m excited for people to see how we’ve adapted the story. We have gone to great lengths to represent a diverse cast with an intelligent, socially progressive storyline. I hope people can watch the show before making judgments. In times, as divisive as these, we need to stay unified, compassionate and understanding in our differences.