Geoff Johns on the Past, Present and Future of the DC Films Universe

I read a good article on the rundown of the DC Films Universe (DCFU, haha). Some fun facts: 1) Did you know the DC movie-verse is not officially named the DC Extended Universe? It was made up by a writer for Entertainment Weekly a couple years ago. 2) In 2013, WB Entertainment selected its first Asian-American CEO in history to run a major Hollywood studio.
Based on Vulture’s article, Geoff Johns had expressed warning signs of the earlier DC films like Green Lantern, Man v. Steel and Batman v. Superman. But during then, he was only serving as a consultant and much of the leadership at the time didn’t seem to want to include many of his recommendations. During those times, he was also trying to jumpstart comic sales with DC’s New 52 storylines which ended up getting another makeover with DC Rebirth last year because of the older generation of fans being displeased with designs, continuity and stories while trying to accommodate new readers. The Rebirth refresh was supposed to change that and allow more creative freedom for writers and artists without being plagued by continuity. It has been about over a year now (?) and many fans seem to be pleased with the richer content. For instance, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s new storyline, Dark Nights Metal has been selling out on its first run across the country.
Now that Geoff Johns is in the position with more creative control in the comics AND movies, they’re trying to do incorporate that into the DC Films Universe. Thus, allowing screenwriters and directors to make the movie that they want without having to include stuff from the past movies. There’s been a lot of inconsistent statements with what’s going on with the DC film franchise because some say the connected universe is coming to an end and some say they’re two separate universes which makes it confusing for fans. However, instead of Johns being burdened by the precedence of playing catch up to the Marvel Cinematic approach and the “DCEU”, they’re going to focus more on each movie to creative better stories. What’s interesting though, is the fact that Joss Whedeon was specifically hired to lighten up the Justice League movie script but it was just by coincidence with the tragedy that happened in Zack Snyder’s family that Whedon would take over the director duties to accommodate his changes into the movie.

Movie Review: IT


Wow! I went in with low expectations, despite the positive reviews by audiences and critics, I still didn’t expect it to be such an enjoyable movie. New Line did a fantastic job with the casting and screenplay. They gave a director with a short list of directed films and let him shine in jumpstarting a horror franchise. Kudos! For those that are fans of Stranger Things, you’ll definitely enjoy ‘IT’ as it starts Finn Wolfhard who plays Mike Wheeler on the show. In addition, they bring in Jaeden Lieberher, who played the kid, Alton in Midnight Special which I thought was a good movie. Wolfhard brings in a lot of the humor throughout the movie which the original ‘IT’ lacked and makes the movie more enjoyable and fun. The cast as a whole had good chemistry and gave the movie a lot of heart and I’m looking forward to see who they cast in the sequel! For those that haven’t read the Collider article yet, the young Loser Club cast provide their ideal adult casting choices for IT: Chapter 2, here.  I felt the ‘IT’ reboot really paid homage to the original and the most gruesome scene was probably at the beginning of the film. What really makes this movie a rated-R, is all of the cussing these kids do. Gosh, did I cuss that much when I was that young? Probably. There’s quite a few jump scares throughout the film to keep you awake and Bill Skarsgard  didn’t disappoint in filling Tim Curry’s large clowns shoes of playing Pennywise. I felt the movie had the right balance of scariness and humor. Hopefully, they sustain their momentum into the sequel. What did you think of the film? Who would you like to see in Chapter 2?

Meet Lewis Tan

I wanted to spread some love out to some Asian-American actors and I was introduced to Lewis Tan by a friend who read an article on Marvel screening him for the lead role in Iron Fist. I was like, “Hmm, that’s interesting.” I didn’t know that and I’m sure plenty of people didn’t know. But I wonder if it was because he was skilled in martial arts and was good in acting or was it because that Marvel actually considered the impact of having an Asian-American on the show? Lets cover some of the facts right now. We know that Asian-Americans are underrepresented in Hollywood and are usually typecast into martial artists, nerds, gangster and villains of sorts. Iron Fist was created in the early 1970’s and was published presumably because of the Kung Fu boom that occurred. Other characters like Shang Chi who is another Kung Fu hero for Marvel was introduced around the same time. During those times, we didn’t have any players in the comic business and damn sure didn’t have any in Hollywood. Everything was really new for Asian-Americans making a break into the culture. To this day, Bruce Lee has held the golden standard of what some Asian-American actors aspire to be. Not to say that Asian-Americans aspire to be martial arts but it is a big part of our culture. And nowadays, people aren’t aware of Asian-Americans being out of touch with their culture. Quite interestingly, you have many non-Asian ethnicities involved into learning and immersing themselves into Asian culture than many other Asian-Americans nowadays. I can speak this because I’ve experienced it all of my life.

Meet Lewis Tan, an Asian-American actor with looks, martial arts skills and some acting talent. When watching Iron Fist, episode 8 had stood out with Tan facing off against Finn Jones because of the fight choreography with drunken boxing. Tan plays the villain, Zhou  Cheng and he did a great job for the little screen time he had. Many say he stole the show that episode and I’d have to agree. What is quite ironic is the line that Tan says, “I thought the Iron Fist was a great warrior. You fight a like child throwing a tantrum.” That pretty much sums Iron Fist season 1. In discussing the series with friends, one of them had mentioned that Danny Rand was meant to lack maturity, worldliness and people skills. This is no wonder why I didn’t like his character because I don’t like these type of people. Instead if they went another route with what’s mentioned in the interview with Lewis Tan and Vulture on Iron Fist, it’d make the story much more refreshing.

Meet Lewis Tan, the Asian-American Actor Who Could Have Been Iron Fist

Review: Marvel’s Iron Fist


Marvel Iron Fist is finally out on Netflix for your binge watching pleasure. I didn’t have much to do over the weekend so I was able to finish all thirteen episodes. I like to keep an open mind when watching a TV show or movie despite reading reviews from critics and fans. Therefore, I didn’t go in with the mindset of being dissatisfied with Finn Jones because of his lackluster performance on Game of Thrones or being disappointed with Marvel not casting an Asian-American. I gave the show a chance because of Marvel’s track record has been pretty stellar in catering to general audiences with The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy as well as mature ones with Daredevil and Jessica Jones.

First and foremost, Rosario Dawson as Claire Temple has been the real cohesiveness to bringing all of the shows together as she has starred in all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) Netflix series and she has been my favorite and consistent character thus far. Her willingness to help others has always gotten her in a pickle with having to help people with issues which turn out to be superheroes in the end. Dawson’s presence in Iron Fist brings her experience to the fight against the Hand and some wisdom to the Kung Fu warrior but young and naïve, Danny Rand destined to be the Iron fist who is played by Finn Jones. The screenplay could have been handled a lot better. Many of the things from the comics did not translate well in verbatim for live action TV in the present time. The story needed the slow pull in the beginning to introduce the characters and story but it never got better. There were a couple “ah ha” moments when you learned more about the Hand from Madame Gau and Bakuto. But each episode kind of left me in a medium to low state as I just thought how they tried gunning for the Hand and Madame Gau was not very convincing. In addition, although you see a different faction of the Hand you don’t see their full strength like you do in Daredevil. I don’t know if it is due to budgetary constraints but I could definitely feel it being of less quality. As for casting, Finn Jones had some highlighted moments with his action scenes and his coping with post traumatic stress. But much of the dialogue was very cheesy and many moments were just not believable. Each time Jones would come out saying that, “I’m the Iron Fist” I just couldn’t help but to laugh. It does not translate well from the comic pages. I definitely agree with the critics stating he was miscast. Yeah, I would’ve liked it more if they found a talented Asian-American actor but even not, they could’ve found someone better. If they relied on Jones to handle the series on his own it would perform a lot worse. But because they had a solid supporting cast with Tom Pelphrey, Jessica Henwick, Jessica Stroup and David Wenham the show held up. To tell you the truth, I would’ve enjoyed seeing Tom Pelphrey try to pull off being the Iron Fist rather than Finn Jones. I think Pelphrey is a talented actor and his character development on screen is believable. Stroup was a grounded and likeable character by being business woman trying to run a company while coping with her undying past if you will. They didn’t linger much on her character outside of the interaction with her family and Danny which was good because it probably would’ve have not added much to the story. Veteran actor, Wenham delivers nothing short of amazing. You name it, movies like 300 and Lord of the Rings he has a solid supporting actor record. I think this time he just goes all out with evilness and it’s scary to watch him because of his temper-tantric violent actions. Now, for Jessica Henwick she has her high notes in the beginning with some cool fight scenes. But once they get into her being the romantic love interest, her character becomes quite dull. I feel they could’ve polished her development better in the end especially since she was involved in a big twist in the series and I liked her character a lot in the beginning.

Lastly, the finale was very disappointing. Scott Buck is notoriously known for writing Dexter and many fans were disappointed with its ending and I can say that I was disappointed with the Iron Fist ending too. The fight choreography wasn’t on the “oh shit” tip like in Daredevil but there were a couple fight scenes that were cool like the cage fights, hallway fight and rumble brawl but it definitely was a predictable ending. They could’ve also casted someone better for Davos as he was just an annoying character and especially since he’s destined to be Danny’s arch nemesis, Steel Serpent he didn’t feel like a threat. In summary, I enjoyed quite a few episodes like 4 and 5 but Iron Fist felt like the weakest link of the MCU/Netflix series and I’m weary on the chemistry with the rest of the Defenders. But if they’re going for the young naïve kid that knows martial arts then I guess they casted right. But the character was never really popular outside of cult readers and many of the stories were not that interesting unless they were with Power Man a.k.a. Luke Cage. I think Marvel could’ve done a better job in telling a more compelling story and updated the lore of the Iron Fist much better for contemporary audiences.


“Into the Badlands” Season 2 Premieres Sunday, March 19


I was so thrilled to find out one of my new favorite shows, “Into the Badlands” is premiering its season two on AMC on March 19th! I think it’s one of the best fight choreography done on television but don’t expect Emmy winning acting performances which is okay to me. Earlier today, a friend had shared this article from VICE about Daniel Wu, taking on the lead role in the show and discussing Asian stereotypes and breaking down barriers for Asian-American actors in Hollywood.

The title reads that “The Martial Arts Show That Is Destroying Asian Stereotypes on Screen”. Now, the title is heavy with the “destroying” part and I do think it’s slightly misleading but it isn’t too far from the truth. Now, most Americans will think, “Well, the show is a Kung Fu show, how is it destroying stereotypes?”. Though, you are completely right, only Asian-Americans who have been through the struggle of racism or those people that have researched the issue or aware through friends about Asian stereotypes and emasculation will know what this article is talking about. But even then, if you know how to read and have the ability to read between the lines, you should figure it out.

This show is breaking down barriers in Hollywood by casting an Asian-American as the lead role because there’s really not many at all on television in the U.S. Now, if you mention shows like “Fresh Off The Boat”, I’m going to have a talk with you, because you totally miss the point. The show, “Into the Badlands” introduces interracial dating on-screen between an Asian male and Black female which hasn’t been popularized on TV before. I think Dustin Nguyen did get some short screen time with a girl on 21 Jump Street back in the late 80’s. Not only this, Daniel Wu is not a one-dimension character without depth as he plays an anti-hero who was an assassin looking for redemption and the path to enlightenment. This is great progress for Asian-American actors! I am looking forward to watching ten episodes this time and not having to be stuck with six episodes last season! Hopefully, they exceed my expectations and blow the audiences away with some cool fight scenes and in learning more about the post-apocalyptic universe.

The Controversy of Marvel’s Iron Fist Netflix Series


If you’re a comic geek that has been keeping up the social media about Marvel’s latest TV series on Netflix, “Iron Fist”, you know that there has been a lot of chatter. A lot of it has been about the casting of Finn Jones who plays Danny Rand a.k.a. the Iron Fist. Buzzfeed had recently published an article about Finn Jones responding to the “white savior” persona that some fans are either tired of seeing or are against because it can be identified as “white washing”. I thought Finn Jones response was good and am glad to read that the story reflects contemporary times and that it doesn’t follow through with the stereotypes.

I myself have grown up as a comic geek or superhero geek in general. I have been enjoying the Marvel Cinematic Universe and I think they’ve done a great job in piecing together an entertaining experience with action and storylines amongst TV and movies. I’ve kept up with quite a bit of the social media posts on Iron Fist and some responses have some valid points and substance to it, while other posts lead to cursing and ranting about how things have always been that way and goes out of scope of what the topic is.

As an Asian-American comic book fan, I would’ve liked to see an Asian-American in the role of Iron Fist. Not an Asian immigrant but an Asian-American. I’ll get into it on why later in this post. Now, I know that Iron Fist has been Caucasian in the books but I also know that Marvel has been publishing a lot of refreshed characters to meet equal opportunity quotas, figuratively speaking. For example, Nick Fury who is portrayed by Samuel L. Jackson used to be Caucasian in the books and later became Black-American. The Incredible Hulk is now a Korean-American while you have a huge Spider-Man multi-universe with a hispanic Spider-Man, named Miles Morales and an Asian-American woman, Cindy Moon. I felt some of this worked well and I think Sam Jackson is a great actor and if casting another ethnicity, doesn’t hamper the story and fits the narrative and writers can make the character more compelling, then why not? But I also believe that producers and writers shouldn’t be forced to change the color, race or ethnicity for the sake of it either. It should serve a purpose but should be devised in a way that makes it interesting or fits the story and goal of what you’re trying to accomplish.

Many of the comic book characters you see today, were created many years ago so the comics will usually reflect those times. It would be nice for writers to create new characters instead of recycling older characters but I can see how it can be challenging to create a whole new character when nowadays, no idea is original, there’s really nothing new under the Sun. But if we were to look back at the times when a lot of comic book characters were created, other ethnicities didn’t have much representation back then like you see nowadays. So, often you’ll see a lot of Caucasian male actors in the lead roles which is nothing wrong with that but should it HAVE to be that way?

Now, back to the reason I would’ve liked to see Iron Fist as an Asian-American. In the books, it’s pretty evident that a privileged Caucasian male goes to Asia to learn martial arts and comes back to the United States and becomes a superhero. This story sounds very similar to a lot of movies and TV shows in Hollywood. The character was published in 1974 during the Kung Fu boom. Now, if you were to say Bruce Lee didn’t have an influence on Iron Fist, I think you’d be mistaken as he really pioneered martial arts in film with his first major feature in 1971 and he contributed heavily towards its popularity with “Enter the Dragon”. Although, the creators may state that they had an idea for an a martial arts superhero before the Bruce Lee movies, the Kung Fu boom really helped push it forward. To this day, Bruce Lee has made the most impact in Hollywood, not to say that Jet Li, Chow Yun Fat and Donnie Yen didn’t have an impact as I’m a fan of them as well.

In response, to those that fans that write, “Danny Rand has always been Caucasian in the comic books.” Yeah true, but I believe an Asian-American would’ve worked too because there’s much story to tell from that world. I think a lot of people that are in less diverse locations, do not have an eclectic group of friends from other countries, and those that are not aware of Asian culture or the upbringing of Asian ethnicities will stand by this statement. I, for one, was born in Seoul, Korea but raised in the U.S. since I was an infant, so it would’ve been cool to see more Asian superheroes growing up. I think media has a strong effect on how you perceive things and when people around you perceive it the same way, it starts becoming true to you as well and you can become a product of your own environment. I have always been an open-minded individual wanting to see the world and I don’t feel that things should always have to be a certain way. If this was the case, we wouldn’t have the United States and we’d still be paying high tea taxes to the British and we’d still have slavery. As an Asian-American, I felt like I grew up very out of touch with my culture because of what I was surrounded by. It was mostly people that were Caucasian or Black. It wasn’t until I went to a diverse university that I was able to be exposed to more cultures. In addition, I am an adoptee who is a minority, I don’t think many people will have a clue what that is like as it can tack on more issues to identity crisis. But I won’t get into identity crisis as this is an ongoing issue amongst minority races with immigrant parents and is another beast to discuss about. Why not tell a compelling story about an Asian-American adoptee that’s trying to find his birth family and his roots and becomes immersed into a mystical universe of martial arts? I think many people don’t realize there were over 250,000 adoptees that were shipped out of Korea. I can only imagine how many have been adopted in other countries.

In response to fans saying, “Why should Marvel change the character’s ethnicity for the sake of changing it?” I agree, it shouldn’t be for the sake of changing it to make it diverse without having a purpose. Like I mentioned before, many people are not educated on Asian-American topics because it doesn’t directly apply to them if they are not Asian themselves. We’re still tackling racial issues after so many years, so I don’t find that so surprising. Asian-American males specifically are not very represented in Hollywood. Can you name one Asian male superhero? Or even the last time he got the girl? How many times can you name a Caucasian actor getting the girl on screen? I’m thankful we had Steve Yeun on The Walking Dead and have Daniel Dae Kim on Hawaii Five-O or even John Cho and Kal Penn on Harold and Kumar. I was happy to see such a diverse cast with Star Wars: Rogue One. Now, I agree, that maybe new characters should be introduced but if you can change a character’s race on one of the thousands of existing characters to inspire a generation of minority kids then I say it serves a great purpose. I think the bigger purpose is to show that America isn’t only Caucasian people but it is a very colorful spectrum of people from all over the globe.

Impact of Steve Yeun on Asian Representation


If you haven’t watched the season premiere of The Walking Dead and have been drenched with all of the commotion with who Negan kills in social media, I’m sorry for you. But I’m caught up and will discuss a little about Steven Yeun who formerly played Glenn Rhee. It took his graphic death by Negan, played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan to have him grace the cover of Entertainment Weekly. Yeun is supposedly the third Asian male actor to be on their cover in the United States with the first being Brandon Lee and the second being Masi Oka. First, I commend Robert Kirkman and AMC for providing Yeun the once in a life time opportunity to be on the show for six strong seasons because it’s such a popular show that stays pretty faithful to the comic books while offering some twists here and there. It’s such well written and cast as they’ve shown strong character development on many of our beloved characters that started out in season 1. In addition, they went against the grain of the entertainment business and allowed an Asian American actor to shine. Yeun plays the everyday Asian man who started out as a pizza delivery boy to being an apocalyptic survivor that has had so many close calls and escaped death while also being a lover to Maggie Greene, played by Lauren Cohan. How many times can you say you’ve seen the Asian guy get the girl in a show or movie? If that’s not great character development for an Asian American actor then I don’t know what is. I think this is great progression and it’d be wonderful to see more shows produced like this. With Yeun’s presence on TWD, I believe it made a positive impact with Asian representation in media because it doesn’t feed into the stereotypes of Asian Americans.


Response to NBC Asian America’s Video on Asian Men Stereotypes

NBC Asian America recently published a video on “Where Do Stereotypes About Asian-American Men Come From?”. It’s interesting to see them publishing some awareness about this and it included a lot of things that I had researched and discovered on my own. First off, I just wanted to say that every person of gender or color has their own unique experiences and those that can be related. Some people that are outside looking in may not empathize because they never experienced the same thing or that they believe there are other issues that have higher priority. Then again, maybe they are systematically programmed to think that way because they’ve been raised more privileged than others. Let me ask you this…if you take two identical twins of the same ethnicity and place them in two different habitable countries. Will they grow up to be same? The answer is no. The recipe into who what we are as a person has some parts with genetics and some parts with our society with what we’re exposed to and who have become an influence. Like I’ve mentioned before, we SHOULD NOT point fingers and pass blame but WE CAN look at ourselves and DO something about it. Whither it is changing ourselves for self-improvement or even becoming more culturally aware of our surroundings can we progress the representation of all people of color.

Now, as a KAD (or Korean adoptee) who was raised American and grew up in a low middle to middle class part of town with Black Americans and Caucasians, I can speak from my experience alone. Over time, I’ve become more socially and culturally aware of what it is like being a Korean American and being adopted didn’t help much. I’m not looking for your sympathy but I do want you to know where I am coming from. The stereotypes discussed in NBC’s video had all applied to what I’ve experienced growing up. Although they don’t go much in detail of the development of Asian-American stereotypes since it’s short. When I was growing up, it was complicated to fit in somewhere because I wasn’t white nor was I black and it’s not like I was really surrounded by much of Korean or Asian role models. Lets be honest, parents don’t have full control over how you turn out in the end and a lot of the stuff you learn in grade school has to do with American history that deals with Caucasians and Black Americans. In addition, nearly every show has a Caucasian actor in the leading role. In Hollywood, Black Americans seem to have progressed a lot further with leading roles than Asian Americans as you have Danny Glover, Will Smith and Denzel Washington to name a few. At the beginning of the video, they survey a number of people on naming an Asian-American actor and they all failed. This would prove true with most people if you were to ask yourself or even friends.

Now, remember when I said we can’t go pointing the finger and linger in the past but today, emasculation of Asian-American men is an issue and the lack of representation for Asian-Americans is an even bigger issue. Microaggression is a theory that’s described as a subtle approach for what hate crimes used to be and is the cause of stereotypical behavior. Because of microaggression, I’ve witnessed other Asian-Americans wanting to disassociate with their own race because they wanted to fit in and become accepted and this seems to be more prevalent with KADs. We live in America and everyone has their right to representation and it’s evident that Asian-Americans are a little behind on it. But if you haven’t watched the NBC video, you can check it out below!

The Leap of Faith


Today, I dropped the bomb on my mother who I find out is actually having eye surgery next month (Hopefully, everything goes well without any hiccups). But I informed her that I had applied for a job in Korea that can last up to 3 years and that I had contacted my adoption agency to get in contact with my birth mother. I know… a lot of stress for her and now she’s worried as mothers do. She knows that I have a pretty stable job with career progression and I actually like my supervisor and majority of the people in my department. The job keeps me fairly motivated and can challenge me when we encounter new projects. But lately, it has been really haunting me on what I really want to do with my life right now. I don’t want to be here in the same location anymore. I want to travel and explore and live somewhere else. I want to get back in touch with my creative side again and create stuff like costumes or continue developing my drawing skills in which I chose to have come to a halt. Right now, the other thing that interests me is developing my Korean language skills to get by in Korea when I go visit and if I do move there.

But what if I get the job and end up not liking it? What if I end up not liking Korea? What if I can’t find my birth family? Etc. and etc. Most of these worries come from my mother and  leads to the theme for today’s post which is the “leap of faith”. You will never know the outcome unless you go down that route. It could be good or it could be bad or it could be both. I truly believe that things are most valued when you’ve put in the work to earn it and that path to success isn’t always smooth. I am 30 years old right now. I’m still young and have no attachments (not that I know of) except maybe a mortgage and a family that lives near here. But there’s so many things that I want to do in which I feel have been missing from my life and I don’t want to wait on it. I’ve witnessed too many times with people who have regret because they never took that “leap of faith” on an opportunity. I’ve seen people always push back what they wanted to do and then “life happens” with unexpected circumstances arise. I don’t know about you but I don’t want to be “an old man filled with regret, waiting to die alone.”

You never know what you might find. I could end up liking the job and move to Korea permanently. I could end up meeting the love of my life and settle down there. I could end up being more successful there than I ever could have been in the states. I’d rather take the leap instead of not finding out what could be in store for me. At least I will know for myself. This reminds me of the time when I took an art theory class and the whole time, we were focused on what beauty really is. As discussed in class, beauty is defined as the falling into something like when you fall in love. I believe that the leap of faith and beauty are the same. In both concepts, you don’t know if something will turn out the way that you expect it to but there’s that feeling that motivates you and makes you feel alive to want to keep going to see how it all pans out. You may not be sure it’s truly everlasting but it feels new and you believe in it because you’re passionate about it but scared at the same time.

Asian Representation in Hollywood


I’ve been really wanting to discuss this topic for awhile and is actually one of the reasons why I had chosen to create this blog (despite wanting to show you my pretty pics of food and scenic views from my latest vacay). As a Korean-American male, I’ve lived majority of my life in America (Wow, has it been 30 years?) and I’ve noticed the lack of Asian representation and misrepresentation in Hollywood. If you’ve been awaken or are socially aware, you would have noticed this as well. This past year, I’ve read some interesting topics such as the social movement with casting an Asian-American as Iron Fist in Marvel’s Iron Fist TV series (#AAIronFist), photo shopped movie posters of John Cho in the leading role of popular movies (#StarringJohnCho) and an article that quotes Constance Wu on whitewashing ethnic characters.

As far as the late 60’s and dominantly throughout the 70’s, Asians have been stereotyped for being intelligent and performing martial arts with popularity of actors, George Takei as Sulu in the original Star Trek TV series and Bruce Lee pioneering martial arts in Hollywood. Star Trek was really one of the first popularized TV shows to be released with such a diverse and eclectic cast. Bruce Lee was really the first Asian-American sex symbol the America has ever seen. To this day, never have we had an Asian-American actor rise to this form of “sex symbol” prominence in Hollywood. When I say “sex symbol”, I mean, having an Asian-American male actor or model to grace the front cover of GQ and Men’s Health in America. Take a moment…yeah, I can’t think of any either. We’ve had the popularity of martial arts flicks throughout the 80’s and 90’s with Chow Yun Fat, Jackie Chan, Donnie Yen and Jet Li but they’ve never made it to that degree of “sex symbol” in Hollywood. Sorry guys!

When reflecting back on past years, we haven’t had much of diverse roles in Hollywood. We’ve had John Cho playing a nerdy, introverted pothead in Harold & Kumar, Ken Jeong playing a goofy Asian pimp in The Hangover and Rick Yune as Johnny Tran who was an antagonist in The Fast & Furious franchise. Many of male Asian-American roles are perceived as emasculate in comparison to Caucasian roles and consist of being either socially awkward, nerdy or playing “the bad guy”. One of the Hollywood movies that had really disappointed me back in the day was Romeo Must Die. Why? Because Jet Li never got the girl in the end (I also had a big crush on Aaliyah). It’s like he did all of that work through out the movie and it still wasn’t enough to be outside of the friend zone. Hollywood didn’t want Li to get the girl. This behavior is still the case in many romantic comedies (Maybe another reason why I don’t really watch them?). Shame!

Fast forward to more recent years, we’ve seen some development in Hollywood and I give praise to those producers and actors that are aware and are taking some action. For example, Steve Yeun as Glenn Rhee in The Walking Dead who actually gets the girl, although it took a zombie apocalypse for this to happen, Benedict Wong as Kublai Khan in an Asian-majority cast in Marco Polo on Netflix, even though Lorenzo Richemly is the lead actor and gets the women. Randall Park in an Asian family sitcom, Fresh Off the Boat which is a fun comedy to watch but perceives the goofy, stereotypical Asian family. Furthermore, Daniel Dae Kim plays a driven and skillful cop on Hawaii 5-0 but can be portrayed as an outcast to the group while Byung-Hun Lee has made his entry into Hollywood with “bad guy” cameos in Red and G.I. Joe movies but finally is at the front line alongside protagonists, Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt in the upcoming The Magnificent Seven. (Who would turn down a movie with Denzel?). Though I must say the actor for playing the most complex of characters has been Daniel Dae Kim based on his roles in Lost and Hawaii 5-0 alone. I haven’t seen him star in any mainstream roles that I know of like Byung-Hun but that could possibly be due to Daniel avoiding being typecast. As for the award for Asian-American actor getting the girl in the end, it could be a tie between Steve Yeun and John Cho. Yeun has had the most longevity with The Walking Dead going on strong into its seventh season (I hope Negan doesn’t kill him!). Although Asian-Americans are on the rise for being represented in Hollywood, we still have a ways to go and are still lacking a solid representation in Hollywood in comparison to Caucasian actors. When will we have more male Asian-American heroes/superheroes in Hollywood?

Surprisingly, we got a hero with Daniel Wu in the AMC show, Into the Badlands which is like the first-time ever an Asian-American plays the lead role while being a hero in a TV series! But it was such a short story as it was only 6 episodes and as much as I had enjoyed the world it created and how cool the martial arts sequences were, it still lacked in the character development for Wu’s character. I’m assuming that partial blame could be due to the budgetary constraints. As for Asian-American superheroes, we unfortunately lost the casting bid to another Caucasian actor, Finn Jones for Iron Fist but we do have Chloe Bennet who plays Daisy Johnson on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in which she’s Chinese-American in real-life and on the show. Although the show has its ups and downs, Chloe’s character is as complex as it gets as she comes from a broken home, is a computer hacker, government spy and struggles to control her powers that can rattle the Earth into pieces! Also, Ming-Na Wen plays a bad-ass martial arts spy on the show.

The empowering Asian-American woman hasn’t always been the case in media but they seem to have progressed further into being accepted into the mainstream of Hollywood in comparison to the Asian-American man. I mean you’ve had Lucy Liu publicized on plenty of fashion and fitness magazine covers in the states and it’s likely you’ll see more of this trend. We can compare this to what Edith Wen-Chu Chen talks about in “Asian Americans in Sororities and Fraternities” in the book, Brothers and Sisters: Diversity in College Fraternities and Sororities.  She talks about Caucasian males having the “asian fetish” a.k.a. “yellow fever” as Asian women seem more sexually desirable and “ultra feminine and inferior to white heterosexual males”. She discusses how this scenario is acceptable because it doesn’t disrupt the social hierarchy that is set in place. Furthermore, in her studies she points to media being one of the culprits. For an Asian-American woman living in a “White” society, the combination of Asian men being emasculated and the White man being dominant in mainstream media can psychologically influence Asian-American women to date Caucasians over their own race.

As you can see, this social stigma on a particular race or gender can have influence and consequences. It’s more than just being represented in society, it’s about what we are showing and telling our next generation. As Constance Wu has mentioned on Asian representation, we shouldn’t blame people and point fingers but should make ourselves and everyone around us aware of this fact. Much of the problem of Asian representation is that the Asian-American doesn’t speak up and turns the other cheek while condoning this behavior. Many talented Asian-American actors may have to work harder than other Caucasian actors to land a big role in white Hollywood. The solution to escalate Asian representation seems to be finding more producers to support the change in the current dynamic. This would take Asian-American actors to come together to promote this kind of awareness and to invest into their own production companies to release socially aware content in movies and television. Steve Yeun and Daniel Daye Kim are a couple of known actors that are doing this now. But it will also depend on Asian-American actors to not succumb to being cast as Asian stereotypes. This could be challenging to do since it is already difficult as it is for Asian-American actors to get jobs. John Cho is known for going against the grain in pursuing roles that Asian-Americans haven’t done before and I will end this post with one of his quotes in Glamour magazine last year.

I think Hollywood acts like followers of culture and is constantly seeking to follow trends. I just feel like we could be doing much more interesting stuff and starting a chain of events. Starting and leading social trends and leading artistic movements. And yet I think the town is not as courageous as it could be. It certainly is in a position to influence more than it does. ~ John Cho to Glamour, February 2015

For more great articles on Asian representation in Hollywood:

Asian-American Actors Are Fighting for Visibility: They Will Not Be Ignored – The New York Times

Where Are the Asian-American Movie Stars? – The Hollywood Reporter

“Asian men in media are so desexualized”: Rising star Jake Choi fights the Hollywood odds against Asian American actors – Salon

The Winners and Losers of Asian Representation in Hollywood in 2015 – Buzzfeed