Marvel Reacts To Runaways Race Bending Accusations

When an open casting call for Runaways began circulating earlier this month, many fans were alarmed that the apparent description for Nico Minoru didn’t indicate that the role was for an Asian-American actress. But Marvel isn’t planning to shy away from Nico’s ethnicity, according to the studio.

In a statement released to Racebending.com, Marvel Studios addressed the concerns over the possibility of a non-Asian American actress landing the role of Nico. The statement reads:

“To address your concern over casting for the role of Nico, as we do with all of our films, we intend to stay true to the legacy and story of the comic when casting these parts. Thus, our goal is to cast an Asian American actress as depicted in the comic series and the casting notice will be adjusted accordingly.

As promised, the casting notice has been adjusted since the statement’s release.

This isn’t the first time this year that a popular character’s race has been at the center of controversy in Hollywood. Indeed, Racebending.com was founded in response to the decision to alter characters’ racial backgrounds in M. Night Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender. While it seems that the question of Nico’s ethnicity has been addressed by Marvel, it’s still worth wondering — how upset would you be if a non-Asian American actress won the role of Nico? Generally speaking, does a studio’s decision to alter a character’s ethnic background take you out of the movie experience, or do you look at other factors in determining a film’s overall quality? Let us know what you think in the comments section.

[Link via UGO]

News From Our Partners

Comments

  • http://twitter.com/WeaponXIX Chris Katrev

    The race is not an issue here really.If Nico is not Asian doesn't change the story at all.The same thing goes for Alex.

  • Toyminator

    Fans really get upset over this nonsense? When it comes down to it, most comic book artists are more guilty of racebending then any movie studio. They rarely actually draw characters' ethnicity accurately. The characters all just end up looking like the only delineating feature between races is eye shape and skin color, which is plain ignorant. And that's if they even do a proper job of illustrating those things. I have read tons of comics where the Asian ethnicity of a character was barely present. Many Native Indian, Asian-Indian, and African-American characters often look just like caucasian characters with darker shading. Obviously there are quite a few artists who do right with this, but let's face it, the medium is full of a lot more who don't. So it seems a little hypocritical for fans of the comic book medium to get on a soapbox and throw stones at Hollywood for “racebending.”

  • Lando

    nerd rage dude, they'll find a way to be annoyed by something.

  • cfoshinnn

    I think it matters to racialized comic fans who see so few characters and especially heroes who don't look like them. So when some creators are actually progressive enough to create a non-white character, people tend to get attached. Like I did to Alex Wilder ( a black character who used his brain instead of his brawn, who was not a ghetto badass retread stereotype).

    Your statements about comics racebending is a tad peripheral. In the comics many artists have portrayed Nico as asian, as you can see above. And while many artists lazily draw caucasian looking characters with different shading, the fact remains that these are comic books. With film, there really is no reason to hire a white person and give them facepaint ala Airbender, when the characters were clearly not meant to be white in the first place. This is especially so when one considers that there are talented people of all ages and races in Hollywood at the studios' disposal.

  • cfoshinn

    I beg to differ. Are you saying that it wouldn't matter at all if ALL of the characters in the movie were white? Does that reflect reality in North America? It really might matter. I am assuming that you're a white person ( Katrev sounds kinda white-ish). No offense, but maybe you would feel a little left out 99% of the all characters in comics for the last 50 years were brown.

    There is always a context to things. Racialized comic fans like me, when they see that only white folks get to be heroes, it might say something like well, “only white folks get to be heroes'. It says that we can't fly or fight the badguys or have adventures like apparently white people. It diminishes us.

  • cfoshinnn

    Sorry- what I meant to say was “I think it matters to racialized comic fans who see so few characters and especially heroes who actually look like them”

  • Somebody

    As long as Nico remains a strong, leader-foil to Alex in the movie, I don't care what race she is. Take your blinders off, folks. As long as Nico acts like Nico, I don't really care about the rest.

  • Jonathan

    Didn't care when they made Kingpin black in Daredevil, he was still Kingpin. Won't care if they make Nico Caucasian. For some reason whenever a role originally written for a white person is cast with a non-white actor it's cause for a celebration, but when its the reverse everyone comes out of the woodwork to cry racism.

  • http://www.spinoffonline.com Kevin Melrose

    That reason may be, at least in this instance, that the number of prominent Asian/Asian-American characters in Marvel comics — and DC comics, for that matter — can be counted on two hands, with several fingers left over. That number is greatly reduced when you eliminate those with martial arts-based abilities.

  • http://twitter.com/katiesaccount Katie Gill

    I'm personally glad that they're keeping Nico Asian-American. I know that people are saying they don't care or race is not an issue but really, it is. One of the things that made Runaways such a notable team was their diversity. There's a black, an Asian, a lesbian and a girl who actually has some meat on her bones-four types that you don't see in regular superhuman comics. The current line-up of X-Men is, for the most part, skinny white people, Storm being the only possible exception. The Marvel movies are full of skinny white people, with Storm, War Machine, Blade and Kingpin being exceptions. That's four characters out of at least twenty. I'm frankly glad that they're having a movie with diversity.

  • Crevanfox

    White washing is a little too 1950s for me. Nico better be Asian, Alex better be African American.

    Also, let it be known, I will cut someone if Gert is a size 2.

  • DTO2865

    I must heartily disagree. To arbitrarily change a character's race or even gender basically destroys the integrity of the original source material.
    For example, Starbuck from Battlestar Galactica. In the original 1978 series, Starbuck was a bit of a rogue & scoundrel with a heart of gold, cut from the same cloth as Star Wars' Han Solo. In the recent revival series, Starbuck was changed into a p!$$ed-off, kick-@$$, Lilith Fair-type grrrl with a chip on her shoulder. After viewing the pilot, this was one of many reasons why I boycotted the series.
    Now, there have been rare occasions when a character has been altered and it worked. Case in point, Michael Clarke Duncan as the Kingpin in “Daredevil.” Not only did he have the physical girth, but he had the acting chops to make the Kingpin a menacing presence. As a matter of fact, Duncan's performance was the only redeeming quality of that film. If they would've tried to cast the Kingpin to match the comics, it would've been some WWE dude who couldn't act his way out of a paper bag.

    On a previous thread, a lot of folks gave their dream cast for the Runaways film. For Nico, there were a couple of really good suggestions: Jamie Chung (Samurai Girl, the upcoming Sucker Punch!) and Brenda Song (Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior, The Suite Life…).
    Ms. Chung would most likely have the “inside track” because of the heat behind the film Sucker Punch!. However, Ms. Song should not be counted out. She has played the wealthy daughter-type before and she's also a BLACK BELT martial artist.
    Both Asian-American actresses would be excellent as Nico. And, both look young enough to player her.

  • Guest

    Boo hoo.

  • http://twitter.com/RichardCasey Richard Casey

    Course, the name is kind of a give away. This isn't a race issue, its pure oversight.

  • Doidex

    Has anyone tried to cast Donald Glover as Nico yet?

  • Tugrul

    I wouldn't mind white washing if Caucasians weren't represented so much already. I don't like it when a non-Caucasian is cast in Caucasian character's role either.

    There are a few instances where I overlook these castings, like when a character's ethnicity doesn't contribute to the character in question.

    In this particular instance; the powers Nico Minoru got from her parents come from Asian dark magic and isn't one of the Pride's strong points that they're a diverse bunch?

  • Skapunkboi19

    As far as i'm concerned, i think Ellen Wong (who plays Knives in Scott Pilgrim) should be Nico.

  • Superponte

    Come on. this discussion is silly. They cast a anglo/japanese man as Superman in the 90's. Dean Cain. get over it.

  • Westside_goth

    I prefer they keep to a characters ethnicity but I thought Michael Clarke Duncan was fine as the Kingpin.

  • Simon DelMonte

    I always thought that was inspired casting. It's not like Clark Kent/Kal-El is even from Earth.

  • Case by Case basis

    “This isn’t the first time this year that a popular character’s race has been at the center of controversy in Hollywood. Indeed, Racebending.com was founded in response to the decision to alter characters’ racial backgrounds in M. Night Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender.”

    But characters in Last Airbender weren't Asian. So, racebending.com was founded on a lie.

    That said…Nico IS Asian. Cast an Asian actress. No exceptions. Alex IS black. Cast a black actor. No exceptions. I want the Runaways to look like the Runaways.

    Last Airbender deliberately side-stepped the topic of race by setting the show in a fantasy world. Runaways is set in the “real world.” Can't be that difficult to find one black dude and one Asian chick to fill these roles.

  • Beow101

    Would it matter if Peter Parker were black? Apparently it did (at least to all the people who so vehemently argued that Donald Glover shouldn't be in the running for the role; though he never was). Just sayin' bro.

  • Thad

    Depends. Michael Clarke Duncan was a much better Kingpin than Ben Affleck was a Daredevil, and I don't hear anybody complaining about Samuel L Jackson as Nick Fury (granted, he was cast that way in the comics first, but it was still a change from the Marvel Universe). I remember there was some flap a few years back when Beyonce was floated for Lois Lane; I think she's wrong for the part but I don't think it's because of her race. (And Kate Bosworth wasn't really any better.)

    Course, those are all examples of casting minorities in roles that were originally white; the opposite is a bit more problematic. Superhero comics tend to be pretty lily-white already; they don't need to be any whiter.

  • Thad

    …thought of an example of a minority character being changed to a white guy that worked out all right: Liam Neeson as Ra's al Ghul. (Course, you spend most of the movie thinking Ken Watanabe is Ra's al Ghul — he's a minority actor, but he's not Arab.)

  • Dobber

    Ben Kingsly played Ghandi.

  • Ben

    Nico has literally never used martial arts in the comics. Just fyi.

  • Dave Anderson

    I wouldn't be surprised if the people who don't care if Nico is played by an Asian-American actress are white.

    Nothing wrong with being white. I'm a white guy. But, folks like me have plenty of characters that we can readily identify with. As a kid, it was great to see people like me involved in every kind of activity in real life and in fiction.

    If you're a person of color, the examples might be few and far between in some areas, such as comic book characters. It's going to obviously mean more to have one of those examples altered.

    I have to wonder what the reaction would have been if Sam Raimi, Christopher Nolan, or Brian Singer had cast, say, black actors to play Spider-Man, Batman, or Superman. Some might have thought it was bold and progressive, but, personally, I think there would have been howls of outrage, ranging from claims of political correctness run amok to people who just vaguely felt like something had been taken from them.

    Dave Anderson

  • Ben

    Why's everyone focusing so much on Nico? If Karolina gets caucasified, I'm going to boycott Marvel and Disney forever. I haven't heard a thing about a single Majesdanian being approached for casting. Sure they may be a fictitious race, but they have rights too. Some people are just so ignorant. Plus, what if they don't cast a real lesbian in the role? What if they cast a brunette as Chase instead of a blonde? Most importantly, what if they cast a velociraptor as Old Lace instead of a deinonychus? These are the questions that need answering!

  • D Truth

    A black Kingpin is much more jarring than a caucasian Niko.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_DT224KSIFDHWPC2SIQB563NHIQ Ariana Leigh

    Ben Kingsley is Indian, though. Kingsley is his stage name. He was born “Krishna Pandit Bhanji” to Rahimtulla Harji Bhanji and Anna Lyna Mary in Yorkshire, England.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_DT224KSIFDHWPC2SIQB563NHIQ Ariana Leigh

    She did kick Victor Mancha in the face. With stilettos.

  • Video Beagle

    Your own post puts lie to your premise that the race matters. Michael Clarke Duncan worked as Kingpin, because of his acting, not his race (or size, as you dismissed other “just big men” in your WWE comment).

    I didn't watch Nu BSG, but the change in Starbuck is the least probablamtic of the changes, especially as for many, her character is the best thing about the show.

    As for casting Nico of your choices, I'm not sure “heat from Sucker Punch” would beat Brenda Song's in as one of Disney TV's top actresses. They tend to be very loyal to people who are loyal to them, and she's been with them a long time.

  • http://www.spinoffonline.com Kevin Melrose

    That's (part of) my point.

  • Video Beagle

    So you think Ben Kingsley should play Nico?

  • Vega

    Didn't Jerry Lewis play a Japanese man once? So whats the big deal? How hard can it be for a White Actor to play a Japanese person?

    BTW, I'm wanting to read the outrage of my statement, and obviously I'm joking about the above statement.

    But in all honesty, I think Chiaki Kuriyama from Kill Bill would be great. She is young and cute and could pull off a good Nico.

  • Maxgab0198

    Which is why your idiot…Starbuck was a much more fleshed out character in the revival then he ever was in the old BSG…Dirk Benedicts Starbuck was too one dimensional..As far as changing a characters racial or sexual back ground..It does matter enormously…Some of the characterizationa and background which drew fans to them is gone..Especially when that character isn't as well known such as is the case with “Runaways”..This leads to the main core audience feeling alienated..Which leads to all these fan sites blowing up with how disappointed the core fans are with the casting…and though the casual fan may not care..they get the message that the end product may not be as good as the original and shy away..The only few case's recasting race or sex worked was when it started in another source besides the movie..And no I'm not saying your Daredevil example…Love Micheal clarke Duncan..Hated his Kingpin..Though the directors cut had more redeeming qualities then the original…No I'm talking about such as examples as Nick Fury..Where in 616 he's white and in the Ultimates version he's black…That worked cause it didn't take from the original but instead exspanded on it..Another would be the New Firestorm from DC..These don't alienate fan's !

  • Conor

    I think that's what he was getting at – Nico is one of the few Asian or Asian-American comic characters who doesn't have the stereotypical “master martial artist” tag.

    I was personally a little peeved when I heard about the casting of The Last Airbender but I could have lived with it if the actors they did cast had done a good job (which, Dev Patel aside, they really didn't.)

    I'm personally more interested to see if Karolina's lesbianism and her feelings for Nico are in the adaptation.

  • The_Livewire

    Just curious, why is the opposite 'a bit more problematic'? Sause for the goose and all that.

    Personally, I'd like the 'pallatte' of the characters to match the comics. Sometimes you can pull a change off (Michael Clark Duncan should be in everything) other times you can't. (Gen-X movie anyone?)

  • anon

    What else is new? Hollywood makes everything whiter.

  • Jmart166

    I just really hope they pick kids the right age, and don't hire someone in their mid-20s to play a teenager…I am not an absolutist and I think if an actor is great for the role, cast them, but they should attempt to stay as close to the source material as possible and pick actors that reflect all Americans

  • Vid

    Wow. Too bad you boycotted one of the best TV series of the decade over that. I don't see how you can possibly declare a moral stance about that change at all. Btw, hate to tell you but the original BSG was bad.

  • Personamanx

    As long as they get a good actress I really don't care.

  • Doidex

    Hahahhahahaha!!
    That's just genius XD

  • Jorge Mendez

    It would be dis-encouraging to see one of the few minority heroes white washed for mainstream media. It's an offensive and dangerous statement for studios to make; that diversity can so easily be disregarded.

  • Anon

    Agree 100%!

  • http://twitter.com/tomdaylight tomdaylight

    A lot of you guys seem to have overlooked the apparent hypocrisy of the original casting notice – that they specifically required Alex to be black but there was no such requirement on Nico's ethnicity. That's what was setting alarm bells off. If no ethnicity had been specified at all, anywhere on the casting sheet, nobody would have made a fuss. (And if that had been the case then frankly they could have pushed it to be even MORE diverse than the comic book incarnations. Although, naturally, overall authenticity would be preferable.)

  • Gwangung

    “But characters in Last Airbender weren't Asian.”

    The co-creators might disagree.

  • Gwangung

    I think people aren't aware of the long history of Hollywood whitewashing characters. AVATAR wasn't even the biggest example of it; 21 DOWN was based on a real story and all the principals were Asian Americans.

    Also…tell ya a story. I went in for a casting call. Character was an engineer. The casting people looked at me and said, “Why are you here? This part doesn't say it's for an Oriental.”

    And that's pretty common around the country.

    Think about it.

  • JTMaxwell

    it would be upsetting if it were done arbitrarily. if they found the best actress for Nico was white, it MIGHT be okay…but only if they were color blind to the rest of the cast as well. if Nico's white, then Molly can be Asian, Alex can be Latino, Chase can be Samoan, Gert can be Arab, Victor can be a black cyborg, Karolina can be Kree, Xavin can be Shi'ar and Old Lace can be a triceratops. :p but unless you have a valid reason for making those changes, it's probably best to stick with the source material as closely as possible. ;)

  • Blue-13

    I see no reason they can't cast the ENTIRE film with African-Americans. If race doesn't truly matter, as some of you say. “It wouldn't change the story…”

  • SpecialFX

    All of this talk of racial diversity is such a joke. Whats next are you going to start counting the numbers of characters of each race and trying to compare it to the US population.
    65.4% White
    15.4% Hispanic/Latino
    12.4% Black/African American
    4.4% Asian
    Of those numbers the only group that I would say was under represented was Hispanics

  • Alk

    In this case I think it's right to look for an Asian appearing actress, because the character is stated as being Japanese in the comic. (Keep in mind, if you're holding an audition for a character you can insist they look the character, but it isn't legal to outright ask their race if you can't tell by looking).

    Airbender is harder to argue. The audience for the show has wildly different interpretations of the characters. Some people think Aang is white, others think he's Asian. Some people see Katara and Sokka as pacific islander, some see them Inuit, I saw them as black with some mixed race background, and thought a darker skinned Hispanic decent would be a great casting fit. The interpretations of the characters vary widely from person to person. The fact that so many people can identify with the characters is part of what made it appealing to a wide audience.

    Also, it's not just a Hollywood issue.

    In Japan, you see Glinda (Wicked) as a Japanese woman with blonde hair. You see West Side Story performed with an all Japanese cast. You see characters written as white changed to Japanese in movies. But that's ok because Japanese are the majority in their country, right?

  • demoncat_4

    casting some one who is not really the ethinc back ground of the character hurts the character by making one think the studio is a little biased. though Marvel has had a success of trying to cast people who come close to matching their characters . and one should hope they stay true and cast Nico right. for one has to wait till Marvel makes the cast official.

  • Shwa

    Apples and oranges. Some characters are too iconic to change. Peter Parker can no more be black than Luke Cage could be white. But Nico is not on that level. Changing her race wouldn't have that much impact.

    That said, I would still be pissed if they made her white. Because just like there's no reason she has to be Asian, there's no good reason she should be Caucasian. And barring a good justification, I'd rather see them remain faithful to the material.

  • Tugrul

    Great. Now can you give me statistics for all leads?

  • Skapunkboi19

    ok, who do you think should play karolina of theses actresses : Dakota Fanning, Alexa Vega, and AnnaSophie Robb.

  • Guest

    So, the Marvel movies are full of “skinny white people” except for three Blade movies, two Iron Man films, three X-Men films (four if you count Wolverine), and the Daredevil movie.

  • Alk

    People complain about the fact that white people played Asian parts in Hollywood back when the Asian population of the US was 0.00002% according to the census. They call it “yellowface” as if inaccurate casting is a fair comparison to blackface, which was never about white people pretending to be black, and was always about white people degrading black people for laughs. It's like calling a strict teacher “hitler” – the comparison just isn't on the same level.

  • http://twitter.com/mmeans68 mmeans68

    I think that the movies should remain true to the original, racewise, when casting. I'm also one of those “idiots” (as Maxgab0198 said) who didn't like the new BSG because of all the changes they made at casting.

    The same people who were saying it was no big deal for James West to be a black man would be throwing a fit if they remade the t.v. series “Good Times” with a white cast.

  • Sarah15

    If you do your research, the original creators have said they were Asian.

  • Daniel #1

    Is anybody else taking into consideration that the Character in question has a name like NICO?! Would you cast a white woman as a character named Shaniqa? NO!

    She's an asian character. Cast an asian chick. The aforementioned Kingpin role is very different than this because Kingpin's 'bigness' and 'menace' are far more important than his race. Also, he is a villain. A villain has a different set of issues to go with it.

    Nico is a hero. And heroes are there to inspire us and in order to be inspired we have to relate to them. In the comics Nico is an asian hero. She is meant to be a character that asians can relate to. That is the entire point of having a teambook. The varied cast.

    Anyway. I'm off topic. Casting Nico as anything other than an asian girl would be a huge mistake.

  • some grammar nazi

    It was called yellowface because it's a convenient comparable term to describe its similarities to blackface: dressing white people up with stereotypical makeup and costuming to play a stereotyped role. Think more in terms of language than hyperbole – it's simpler to build upon pre-existing terms than to coin wholly new ones.

  • s.w

    Japan's population is close to 98% Japanese. In the United States, 25% of the population is non-white. Not particularly comparable.

  • G_whiz

    One of the biggest reasons Runaways is such a unique comic is because it does approach diversity in a matter of fact way. Nico might be japanese-american, but her parents are somewhat stuffy conservative (ish) sorcerers. Her character avoids many of the stereotypical tropes about asian girls, which is why the fact that her ethnicity is important. Only to impress upon the audience that asian american kids aren't too different than any other ethnic background. All the Runaways are unique because they're characters first. Whats sad is that for 99% of minority characters (women included) in comic books and literature, most are written as though their minority statuses are the only important thing about them. Not so with the Runaways, which is one of the reasons they work. Does it mean that Nico should just be “any old ethncity”? No. Her being a japanese-american goth girl who angsts over relationships and likes the Prisoner makes her unique in a sea of otherwise Mary Sue cookie cutter characters. The majority of the characters in the series are written in a way that they defy a lot of ethnic stereotypes. Nico may not seem overtly japanese american, just as Alex and his parents don't conform to a lot of jive talking black stereotypes. Thats one of the reasons their ethnicities are important, to inform the reader that not every member of an ethnic or cultural minority group is a poorly defined cliche.

  • abassi

    I see alot of double standards when it comes to importance of character race, but all in all if in one medium the character is (color/white) the character should represent it in both not to change for sales or acting capabilities.

  • abassi

    i didnt like kingpin as a black person, to me it showed blacks are the master of crime

  • Jay

    Way to be fallacious!

    One minority in a movie filled otherwise filled with white people does not diversity make.

  • CALEBJ

    did the same people complain when they cast nick fury as a black man? Or Battlestar Galactica's Starbuck as a woman???
    Just wondering!

  • Knightoftomorrow

    Seriously? People make that big of a deal out of this kind of thing? I look at how well the story was written and how well it was acted. Really, one's race does not play any factor in whether or not one has the ability to act (or write) well.

    It's much more enjoyable when you don't critique an adaptation for not sticking 100% to the material it is adapting.

  • CalebJ

    Visually it was great! The stories tended to be over simplfied though, It was a family hour show to be fair. The best episode of the old series was actually the 1980 BG series in the last episodem a flashback, where 'original' starbuck and a cylon are stranded on a planet for the rest of their lives! It's probably at hulu or amazon and it's on the 1980 dvd. That episode was highly acclaimed by SF fans over the years! Take a look!

  • Alk

    If you say “the white population of Japanese is less than 2%, therefore it doesn't matter” – then why do we complain about what Hollywood did when the Asian population was less than 2%? It's a double standard.

  • Jay

    I agree with most of what you said, however, 'Nico' is a very racially ambiguous name. I never thought of it as a Japanese one, certainly (the language doesn't have a 'C' consonant), and just assumed that it was one of those faux-ethnic names from her second/third-generation Asian-American parents.

    'Minoru', on the other hand, really can't be taken for anything other than what it is.

  • http://twitter.com/kevinsole Kevin Sole

    It matters. It always MATTERS. But that doesn't mean that by changing it, it can't WORK.

  • thesnappysneezer

    Michael Clarke Duncan phoned in his performance here. He did not act well in Daredevil at all and was by far the worst in the film and his career. He hammed it up, and did not take the role seriously. Stunt casting gone wrong.

  • Red_Zone

    A lot of people DO care, and when you consider how few and far between Asian/Asian-American characters are in comics or any visual media, it's important that the characters ethnicity remains true to source should it be made into live-action.

  • Red_Zone

    Except for the fact that THIS Kingpin was an alternate universe version in the comics and he was Black.

    Changing a character's ethnicity from White to Black/Asian/etc. is NOT something that happens very often. It's very rare, in fact. People get upset wit the reverse because it's very seldom that actors of color land major roles, especially Asian-Americans, who are currently one of the most under-represented ethnic groups in media.

  • axonrey

    So, you're saying Michael Clarke Duncan worked because of his acting. So, are you implicitly stating that non-Asian people can't act, since you're contending that changing the character's race would effect the quality of the product, as to where that wasn't the case with Michael Clarke Duncan? You're argument seems to be shifting to serve your purpose, as I've noticed that if you're offended by a white character being recast as a black/ethnic character, you're racist, but if an ethnic character is recast as a white character it's a travesty, even though you seemingly contend that race matters, yet attempt to justify the statement by saying that changing race can work as long as the acting is good. I'm sure there's a non-Asian actress you could play Nico just fine.

    And just to avoid be called racist, I'd adamantly oppose the changing of gender or race of characters as they appear in their comic book counterparts, though I rarely have been discouraged from a project because of it. I'm ok with Samuel L. and Duncan, for that matter. Honestly, the most offended I've ever been is when John Constantine became Keanu Reeves.

  • Red-Zone

    Given how extremely limited opportunities are for Asian-American actors and how rare it is to find a script/story written especially for them, it's something people should care about.

  • Red_Zone

    This isn't about acting ability; this is about honest representation and accuracy. A character's race doesn't have to factor into the story, but it's important to remember that the characters are a specific ethnicity, even if you don't think about it. Changing it can effect the overall dynamics of the character and story. How many other Asian/Asian-American characters are there in comic books that aren't reduced to the stereotyped troupe?

  • Greg Geren

    Marvel's reaction of revising the casting specifics takes me out of the Web experience, as I now have nothing to complain about, and will have to find some other reason to hate this movie before the facts are out.

  • Darkhawk

    I think that when there already is a visible minority in the role, it's unfair (and kind of odd) to recast that character as White. However, I will say that I have no problem with White characters being recast as other races. I think a Black Superman or Spider-Man would be cool (and a positive step forward)!

  • sheri

    Did no one realize that Minoru is actually a Japanese male's first name and not a last name? The comic's author probably got it mixed up because surnames come before the first name in Japan haha. Just saying..

    Also, I would love to have Nico be played by an attractive Asian-American because in all honesty, the few Asian-American actors/actresses these days look generic/plain. It saddens me because sometimes as an Asian-American girl, I feel that white girls are generally prettier. That notion is reinforced when I see all these gorgeous Caucasian actresses next to bland looking Asian girls. Not to be shallow, but I hope the actress playing Nico is talented and beautiful. I mean, Nico does get a lot of guys in the comics lol.

  • Joe Howard

    Whoops, I accidentally clicked “Like” instead of “Reply.”
    Anyway, it's not a double standard, because people didn't complain about whites playing Asians for that reason, they complained about it because they were purposely portraying Asians as a people to be feared and not to be trusted. They were the “Yellow Peril.” Sometimes they were allowed to be the loyal sidekick. This was before even WWII, way back when there was a large influx of Chinese immigration. Who mostly immigrated to California. Where Hollywood is. Many of whom tried to become actors, but couldn't because mostly white people were being hired as Asian characters.
    You're only portraying half the truth with your claims to support an idea of the past being less racist than it really was.

  • Robt.

    I'm primarily more concerned that the actor look like the character than I am about specifics like race. Michael CLarke Duncan worked as the Kinpin, because he looked like the Kingpin, with darker skin. Less fat looking than Wilson Fiske is generally portrayed, but still a huge, physically impressive bald guy.

    Nico should have dark hair and Asian looking eyes, but some Native Americans and Innuits look Asian. If they cast someone like that who could act the role well, I wouldn't have a big problem with that. I wouldn't care much for it if they cast a caucasion actress and made her up to look Japanese, not would I like it if they changed the character's name to eliminate her Asian ethnicity.

    Likewise, I wouldn't care if an Asian, Hispanic or anything else actress was cast as Gert, as long as she was chunky and had purple hair, because I want her to look like she does in the comics.

  • Ian Hunt

    I boycotted The Last Airbender because of their racism, and I'm not even Asian.

  • Ian Hunt

    The opposite is problematic because it is exceedingly difficult for Asians, especially Asian women, to get parts in Hollywood movies. I'm black, and I remember when the same was true of black actors. Asian women are grossly stereotyped, almost always being cast in roles as prostitutes (or other sexually provocative roles) or as martial artists. It is very hard for them to get a part playing a “normal person.” This is because the directors and casting directors have been biased by years of stereotyped casting.

    So when a part specifically CALLS for an Asian actress that defies stereotypes (a Goth no less!), and represents a key opportunity to combat the history of prejudicial bias in Hollywood and a key opportunity to level the playing field for Asian actresses, it would be at best socially irresponsible to cast a white person in the role… and at worse, downright oppressive to do so.

  • Pretendernx01

    Sir Lawrence Olivier wore makeup to play Othello instead of them casting a black man in 1965 as many other actors pretending to be dark for the role did. Lena Horne was replaced by Ava Gardner in Lena's makeup in Showboat. So it did happen that blackface was used to cast white people in black roles not as comedy.

    And there have been Asian actors since at least the 1930s that I'm aware of, many like Anna May Wong were reduced to playing serial villains or sidekicks Even if the total American population was low you have to keep in mind California (where Hollywood produced most films) had a strong Asian presence since it's early days and could have reached out to find some more.

    However to say “yellow” face was just inaccurate casting is wrong and doesn't acknowledge the denigrating Asian characters they often played in yellowface, look at the Fu Manchu stereotypes and other “Yellow Peril” stories told in the early days of Hollywood.

  • PretenderNX01

    Some people did. Some still do. I saw many people complaining when Starbuck became female including web animations of the “emasculation” of Starbuck.

    I've also read complaints even after Ultimate Nick Fury that the complainer wanted everything exactly like in the 616 comics.

    Black Nick Fury is definitely a different character than White Nick Fury- for starters, no go-go boots. I happen to like him better but that's just Sam Jackson makes everything better, even as lame a character as Nick Fury (but it is different, as in “not the same”).

  • PretenderNX01

    See, I think it's a step backward to just blackwash a white character and pass it off as diversity. To me, real diversity is creating black characters.

    I like Black Nick Fury but the real diversity is Rhodey getting armor too. How would we feel if the left out War Machine and said that Black Nick Fury was the movie's diversity?

    I also feel just making a white character black for black's sake cheapens the work of the creators and writers of Luck Cage, John Stewart as GL, Static and all of Milestone or any other minorities who have carved out a place in comics next to the white ones.

    If they actually replace the white character with a black one, it's different. Like Ronny Raymond was replaced by Jason Rush, not just a white character suddenly colored with the brown crayon.

  • B_vallely

    It's my own personal preference that characters making the transition from page to screen should retain their ethnic identity, but I don't understand this sudden shock at the idea in regards to Nico. The practice of racechanging's been going on for some time now. Kingpin, Nick Fury, Alicia Masters, Heimdall, Callisto, Bolivar Trask, etc. have all gone through the “race change” on their way to the big screen.

  • Case by Case basis

    yeah, because they don't want to get yelled at on the internet and have people hate them and their show.

    The characters cannot possibly be Asian because there was no ASIA. No argument you can make changes that fact. But facts are the first to go in sensationlist propaganda.

  • Michael

    I would just simply always ask the question, does this get to the core of the character? Does this change hinder the truth of the character? In casting Michael Clarke Duncan as Kingpin, they knew that his ethnicity wasn't what defined him as a character but that his size was always core to Kingpin in every instance. The Runaways I've read, Nico never really comes off as particularly asian outside of her eyes and wardrobe. I may have missed something but I've never even known what type of Asian she is supposed to be? Chinese-American, Japanese-American? What? And I've not seen where she spoke an Asian language.

    The problem with the Airbender casting was that Avatar was rooted in Asian culture. The bending forms are even based on martial arts from Asia.

  • Caucasian Kent

    Apparently not being from “Earth” or any Continents of Earth doesn't excuse casting people that aren't of the race some people think the characters represent. Sorry. Superman is white. I won't stand for this horrible racebending!!

    I actually have no problem with it. I just like pointing out double standards.

  • smh

    Yeah Dean Cain is still white though, although half. *smh*

  • hhrc

    Just because she's been in a movie does NOT make her a good choice for Nico. Ellen clearly doesn't look Japanese because she is South East Asian (big difference) and she's the most average looking asian actress ever (We sure don't need any more of those, i.e. Jamie Chung, Niki Soohoo, Lucy Liu). She overacts too. I am all for an unknown all the way because the current better known asian actresses don't have enough appeal to make it big.

  • thephieffect

    You're arguing semantics. By translating Avatar: The Last Airbender into the live-action The Last Airbender, the closest approximation of any of the characters is not White. All of the contextual, cultural evidence point to non-White people of color, and evidence pointing to a White ethnicity is few, far between, and easily explained in context.

    And in the Art Book for the show, the creators mention an instance where they saw a Shaolin monk-boy on television and exclaimed, “That's Aang!” so at the very least, the MAIN CHARACTER should have been East Asian.

  • superion

    Actually Cain was only 1/4 Asian so he was mostly white.

  • Thephieffect

    Nico is Japanese-American, and she isn't first-generation Japanese-American. Just because she has Asian heritage doesn't mean she has to *be Asian* in some explicit way, especially when she grew up in, again, America.

    Her Japanese heritage is also important in the context of mainstream American media. Asian-Americans have very little representation in American media, despite all the brouhahah about America's melting pot.

    Racially-neutral roles are usually given to White actors, which is understandable to an extent. However, Asian-American actors find themselves competing with White actors for explicitly Asian roles as well as the racially neutral ones. The problem occurs when White actors are overwhelmingly chosen for ethnic roles over actors of color, which is the state of affairs in Hollywood. It's not an even playing field for Asian-American actors, even for roles tailored for Asian-Americans. That's why the race of this “not very Asian” Asian-American character is so important.

  • http://twitter.com/mmeans68 mmeans68

    But what would be the -purpose- of having a Black Superman or Spider-Man? Just because? That's as ridiculous as if I said there should be a white Black Lightning. I'd also, more than likely, be called a racist. Gotta love the double standard, I guess….

  • Knightoftomorrow

    My post was not in response to the debate about ethnicity. I was posting in response to the original post, not in response to the comments.

    I was merely stating my opinion to a question posed in the original post:

    “Generally speaking, does a studio’s decision to alter a character’s ethnic background take you out of the movie experience, or do you look at other factors in determining a film’s overall quality?”

    I, obviously, made the mistake of believing that other people would discuss that question as well.

  • Knightoftomorrow

    The more I think about it, the more I wonder if the concept of this series would really work as a movie. I read the original run a few years back, and the one thought that never ran through my mind was “This should really be a movie.”

  • Ben

    Really? I boycotted it because it looked terrible…

  • Alex

    if the girl who plays nico can play nico then i am fine with that XD/ its call acting. we have mexcians play natvie amercians and so on.

  • Azogtheuruk

    As long as Spider-man and Captain America aren't turned black, I'd be fine with any of The Runaways getting a race change

  • jab

    race nerds.

  • BrotherUnitNo_4

    Overacts? Her character was clearly an OTP individual. I mean she tried dying her hair solely because her ex's new squeeze had blue hair at the time. She hooked up with Young Neil just to make Scott jealous. If she didn't overact, the characters actions wouldn't have made much sense.

  • Zombie Uatu

    Race =/= skin colour.

    I find, given the American preoccupation with race, the fact that people miss this basic point quite odd. I'm British-Irish and would actually find it quite offensive for someone to tell me that didn't matter because I have the same skin colour as someone who was just British (or just Irish). Someone posted above that the X-Men are just skinny white people these days, but of those skinny white people I can think of several who should fall into different racial categories entirely.

    I would rather Nico be played by an Asian-American actress, but that said, if they find someone else who can do the part better then they should cast them. Cast the best person for the role, not the other way around.

  • Kiebler

    I wouldn't care since shes a relatively new character from a series that I felt was just horrible.

    But films based on comic properties should respect the fanbase that made them popular in the first place. Especially a fanbase as rabid for detail as comic book nerds.

  • nacarrell

    When Marvel first started making decent movies (I pretend the old punisher and captain america days never happened) I was constantly pissed off because they messed with one thing or another. Why was Jean suddenly a super doctor? Organic webbing? Why was Sue being played by Jessica Alba? Bullseye is now Irish? My favorite fuzzy elf now has like a million tattoos? And Logan grew like 11 inches overnight. Just think of it as “inspired by” and not “based on”. look at it as some sort of What if…? issue. if it is written well, and acted well, I don't have a problem with it. That being said, if there is an japanese actress who looks the part and has some acting chops, give it to her. not because she is asian, but because she can play the part. being asian definitely should sway the bar a bit in her favor, just like being huge and intimidating helped out MCD.

    What I really want to know is where is the outrage over Venom being tiny and Wolverine being 6'2″. Those were the real travesties.

  • Alexa

    One good reason to keep Nico Minoru Asian? Nico Minoru is a JAPANESE NAME.

  • http://twitter.com/aeghast [A]

    “This isn’t the first time this year that a popular character’s race has been at the center of controversy in Hollywood” —didn't know RUNAWAYS were that popular

  • Tesla56

    Really good argument, I just see it a different way
    The only one of those characters whose identity has ever been intrinsically linked to their race is Luke Cage. I want to promote some previous poster's comment that Peter Parker has always been a New Yorker more than a white guy.

  • HiYah

    I don't get what all the fuss is. Nico should be japanese and alex should by african american. It's not even a question. This is who these characters are..you can't simply change someone's race.

    I say that tristan wilds plays alex and ally maki plays nico.

  • reese

    hi ally! you've been pretty active on racebending and here the past couple days trying to advocate yourself for nico huh?

  • Jenncuteness

    Because hell, there are hardly any parts specifically for Asians anyways nowadays, so why obliterate all of the scarce opportunities out there for them?

  • jake hess

    just looked her up. she looks too old to play nico imho.

  • sean r

    I think the casting directors are looking for an attractive girl to play Nico since she is one of the main characters and we all know that a pretty face will boost ticket sales. Ally, quite frankly, is not “uniquely beautiful” enough–she is an average looking Asian.

    Also, she tries too hard to make her eyes look bigger in photos by opening them really wide, which is a disgrace to Asians. The role of Nico Minoru is a ground breaking opportunity and respresents empowerment for Asian-Americans; Ally is not a good fit for Nico.

  • aggiefromno

    Optimally, the group should stay as diversified as they were for the reasons Katie Gill (above) mentioned. Comic book readers have identified with characters based on their experiences and actions, but also their backgrounds and appearance. Movie audiences should have that same opportunity. A larger travesty would be to cast a thin Gert, as that characteristic was more a relevant to the characters. I know that Nico's powers are based in Dark Asian magic, but it never was a plot focal point whereas Karolina's lesbianism was. So, if I had to give up Nico being played by an Asian, I would choose a competent actress because I would rather a solid characterization than a bad one with an Asian face.

    Still not saying that they can't have it both ways because I think they 100% can and should.