Tag Archives: Hogun

Asian Comic Book Fan Watches Doctor Strange with Low Expectations of Racial Representation, Is Unsurprised but Writes Blog Post Anyway

This is the second part of a series I began almost exactly three years ago with “Asian Comic Book Fan Watches Thor: The Dark World Expecting Racial Representation, Deals with Crushing Disappointment by Writing Blog Post“. The Marvel sequel in question sidelined Hogun, played by Japanese actor Tadanobu Asano, almost completely, and as the title of the blog post would suggest I had been very excited to see him again.

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I can’t not use this image again, it’s just too perfect. Source: platoapproved.tumblr.com

With Doctor Strange, on the other hand, that anticipation was not present at all. Last June I covered the news that Tilda Swinton was in talks to play the Ancient One, the title character’s mentor, in “Celebrity Blind Spots and Fixing Racist Narratives [By Making Everyone White]“. The gist of that post was how, in an effort to be more “progressive” filmmakers have been choosing to “fix” problematic minority characters by simply casting them with white talent. That’s as opposed to simply amending what made them so racist and stereotypical to begin with.

At that point in 2015 Swinton starring in the film had not yet been confirmed, and absolutely nothing had been mentioned about the character of Wong, Doctor Strange’s manservant in the source material. With Benedict Cumberbatch already locked into the role it was a magical time in which there was still the possibility of Marvel releasing a movie with two prominent Asian characters.

Look, my hopes were never particularly high that Swinton wouldn’t land the part. As soon as it was announced she was in talks for the role support began pouring in. That she was a woman in her 50s in a genre that has helped shine a spotlight on men of all ages and women of a very particular age was laudable to many. The thing is, the optics are so bad.

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Asian Comic Book Fan Watches Thor: The Dark World Expecting Racial Representation, Deals with Crushing Disappointment by Writing Blog Post

I like a lot of things, guys and girls. I like comic books, as the title of this post attests to, but I also like Marvel, and movies, and mythology. Taking all of that into consideration there is absolutely no reason why I shouldn’t have liked the sequel to 2011’s Thor. I mean, that film took The Warriors Three, consisting of Hogun the Grim, Fandral the Dashing, and Volstagg the Voluminous [i.e. fat], and cast the Japanese actor Tadanobu Asano as the former.

I should hope that you know my feelings about racially diverse casting by now, but really the expressions below sum them up pretty nicely.

From left to right: Hogun, Fandral, and Volstagg.

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Why I’m Okay With The Mandarin

This is part of a multi-blog series about Race and Comic Books put together by RodtRDH. Justin Tiemeyer has written the first of many such posts [about black comic book characters] on his blog, Cavemen Go.
                                                                                                                                                                  

One of my favourite blogs [you can see it in the sidebar] featured an article sometime ago titled “On Marvel, Mandarin, and Marginalization.” The gist of said article asking why an Asian villain like the Mandarin is being portrayed before any Asian American lead heroes. I’m going to start my defence with the quotes racebending.com used:

“There are certain fears and certain strengths the character evokes that are applicable, but of course you have to completely remove any of that short sighted cultural ignorance that leads to any sort of bigotry in the storytelling. That isn’t to say those fears and shortcomings of Iron Man as relating to that character aren’t relevant…He was based in China which was then mysterious because it was Red China. Today China is mysterious in other ways because it’s Global China.”

– Jon Favreau, director of Iron Man and Iron Man 2 to CHUD in 2006

“You have to do The Mandarin. The problem with The Mandarin is, the way it’s depicted in the comic books, you don’t want to see that.”

– Favreau again, to MTV in 2010

“The Mandarin is a racist caricature.”

– Iron Man 3 director Shane Black at Long Beach ComicCon, October 2011

I’m not going to skirt around the fact that the character was indeed rooted in the “yellow peril” that was rampant at the time of his inception, but the following images should paint a picture of his evolution since that time.

From left to right: The Mandarin as he first appeared in the 60s, then the 90s, and the present day.

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