Greetings, lover of the Zoo.
If you’re like me (and the recent contents of this site), you’ve been tryna strike a balance between oh-so-serious news and lighter, pop culture updates.
And because the Twitter Gods™ love me, someone out there heard my cry and suddenly #RyanPotterForTimDrake came into existence:
To elaborate, I came across the tag after its creator—Tumblr user AthiestJ (@lsiwica on Twitter)— and multiple other Twitter users got the tag to trend hours before on Thursday. I was very happy to come across the tag for several reasons—the main reason being that I still hold residual saltiness in these fingertips of mine due to the abhorrent Whitewashing that happened with Doctor Strange and due to #AAIronFist not being realized.
There’s that and the fact that this story brings together superheroes, hot men [i.e. Ryan Potter], and inclusive casting and who the hell can resist the fusion of all three???
Anyhow, everyone on these internet skreets (and off these internet skreets) knows how disinterested I am in the upcoming Doctor Strange film. I was annoyed that they went with Beneslap Cabbagepatch™ as the lead because it was so safe and I am very used to Marvel giving lesser known names a chance to shine in lead roles. And since Marvel is at a point in their franchise where they no longer necessarily have to “prove” themselves, I was expecting them to be a bit more intriguing with their Doctor Strange casting.
Personally, I was gunning for Pedro Pascal or Sendhil Ramamurthy to assume the mantle of Sorcerer Supreme. It would have been more interesting and relieved a lot of the weird “White Guy Goes To Asian Country and Betters All The Asians There” tension in the story. This especially would have been the case for Ramamurthy since he himself is South Asian.
But as we can see, that didn’t happen. Instead, we got the safe option in Banana Cobblersalad™. I got over that, though, as I wasn’t about to lose sleep over Eggs Benedict™. However, when it was announced that Tilda Swinton was going to be the Ancient One but that manservant Wong was gonna RETAIN his Asian-ness, I about had an aneurysm.
Imagine the audacity of Whitewashing one of the few prominent Asian characters in the Doctor Strange story (when the solution here SHOULD have been to flip that trope and insert a younger Asian woman [as opposed to an older Asian man]) but keeping the supporting character (i.e. Bitch Boy™ as AJ would put it) Asian…proving once again that “diversity” that exclusively centers White women in modern media always come at the cost of people of color.
This occurrence was also aggravated by the fact that #AAIronFist never came to fruition.
As described in several pieces here at the Zoo and elsewhere on the internet, there were many convincing arguments as to why Marvel should have cast Danny Rand (Iron Fist) as an Asian-American man—most of these arguments being spearheaded by Keith Chow (its creator) and Nerds of Color.
The chief reason that most of us seemed to agree on is the fact that people of color should not only be restricted to playing the second fiddle to–or the central villain of–a White protagonist. Wong of Doctor Strange, Malcolm of Jessica Jones, and Luis of Ant-Man are the most blatant examples of the former while Nobu of Daredevil is the most egregious example of the latter, seeing as dude. barely. talked. before. he was offed onscreen.
All of these examples indicate that there is a clear problem where people of color are not allowed to play the titular characters in what should be their own stories—especially those that are centered on their own culture. This is why Marvel completely bypassing #AAIronFist stung as much as it did (as well as the absurd changes to Doctor Strange).
Marvel had a grand opportunity to do the right thing in this regard, but because they were feeling a little squeamish about following through, Finn Jones was cast and suddenly the dreams of #AAIronFist were dashed.
But don’t worry, y’all. Marvel plans on making it all better, starting with the announcement that Lewis Tan will be playing the villain Zhou Cheng. An Asian villain. Is that diverse enough for ya or what?
And again, the salt returns. With as much Asian culture as Iron Fist is steeped in and as much gross “Yellow Peril” narratives occupy Marvel’s history, casting an #AAIronFist should have been a no-brainer. It would have been compelling. It would have shown their commitment to diversification and inclusion.
But, you know, it is that failed application of diversity (but really, inclusivity because diversity as a word is overused and shallow) that allows my extremely pessimistic and jaded subconscious to hold out some hope for DC and its cinematic universe.
I love Marvel and all (and that love definitely has its limits), but for all their talk about inclusivity, DC is the one that I see taking active risks (if we regard deviating from a White, cis, straight, male protagonist a risk) in regard to said inclusivity and putting people of color in positions where they too can lead and not just support.
Of course, there are opposing cases of this on both sides. Both Black Panther and Luke Cage are on the horizon, but that’s only because the demand for them reached so high a fever pitch (thanks to Blerds) that it would have been illogical not to adapt these properties.
The upcoming [and very inclusive] cast for Spider-Man: Homecoming makes it seem like Marvel is looking to put their money where their mouth is. But even then, I don’t know how genuine that is when the story is still centered around a White Peter Parker (yes, I am still #TeamMiles).
On the flip side with DC, we have the same superhero stories (i.e. Superman and Batman) leading their cinematic universe…again. Yet, we do have Wonder Woman [an ethnic White Woman], Aquaman [an AAPI man], The Flash, and Cyborg [a Black Man] on the way. I am personally hype for Aquaman and cautiously-not-as-disinterested in The Flash (unlike with Doctor Strange) BECAUSE both films are being directed by directors of color and the latter film will be featuring a woman of color in a lead role (Iris West).
Conversely, however, I don’t have the same hope that the upcoming Wonder Woman film will be as inclusive (especially if we’re going with that promo picture they released so long ago). Indeed, one of my greatest fears that movie is that they’re going to make it a White Feminist™ circle jerk fest that celebrates some exclusive wave of “feminism”.
It is interesting to note that upon additional research, the #RyanPotterForTimDrake tag was in fact started by a White woman as an act of solidarity in line with the Asian-American/AAPI community who still lacks proper presentation in [comic-related] media.
Given this observation, and that fact that some White women actually get it, I hope I’m wrong about Wonder Woman.
Still, I gotta be honest: I’m not gonna hold my breath, especially considering all the [anti-Black] issues I saw with superhero shows like Jessica Jones and Agent Carter.
Regardless of these cons, however, I’m still a bit more convinced that DC is more willing to push the envelope with their casting choices because of movies like Suicide Squad. While that film remains pretty meh to me for various reasons, its cast was pretty inclusive (now, as for inclusive in execution? That’s debatable—especially if we consider how characters like Katana and Slipknot were treated) and its cast is the main reason it survived the onslaught of bad reviews that it received from critics.
Because of this, I have little doubt in my mind that DC will be open (and should be open) to the possibility of Ryan Potter being cast as Tim Drake. Well, there’s that and the fact that it appears that Ben Affleck is all ears when it comes to the upcoming Batman film that he is directing, especially since the Internet cried out for Joe Manganiello to be cast as Deathstroke and he heard our cry.
And since I believe Ben Affleck is more willing to hear us out about #RyanPotterForTimDrake (more so than his counterpart Matt “I Know More About Diversity Than You POC Peasants”), I’m daring to dream.
I’m also daring to dream because Ryan Potter himself is totally dedicated to this cause.
On top of the fact that ‘ol dude actually looks like Tim Drake (don’t believe me? See here, here, and here), he himself has been a huge part of the campaign, tweeting at Ben Affleck to let him Shoot His Shot™ for the role as well as thanking fans who are giving him a much-needed profile boost. He also mentioned his interest in playing an Asian-American Robin all the way back in 2015 when talking to 411Mania.
It also helps that Ryan Potter is completely and utterly qualified for the role. As I detailed in a previous post about fancasting Spider-Man, Ryan Potter not only has experience with comic book movies (hello Big Hero Six) but he is also a trained Martial Artist. Since age 8, Potter has been studying martial arts. While he has experience with Kiyokushin karate along with Wu Shu Kung Fu training, he is extremely well-versed in White Tiger Kung Fu (and showed us just as much on Supah Ninjas).
To tell the truth, his skills are so serious and he is so committed to this gahtdambt campaign that he released a test footage video this past Saturday, showing off his massive skill set.
Based on all of these things, I see no reason that Ryan Potter shouldn’t be Tim Drake (or any other Robin that Ben Affleck wants to use. Cassandra Cain also needs to make her debut at one point). As of matter of fact, I am so invested in Ryan Potter becoming Tim Drake that I can no longer imagine anyone else occupying the role. Ryan Potter and Tim Drake are now so perfectly synonymous that I would be shocked (SHOCKED I SAY) if DC [mainly Ben Affleck] didn’t announce this casting in the coming weeks.
Your move, DC. Make us proud.
Images From: Tumblr, Popkey.co, Reaction Gifs, Giphy