We previously reported on the news that Deadpool‘s Ed Skrein had joined the cast of the upcoming Hellboy reboot from Lionsgate as Major Ben Daimio, a member of the B.P.R.D. who can turn into a hellish werejaguar beast. While the addition of the character was a nice reveal for the new film, it was an unfortunate step in the wrong direction, as Skrein was signing on to play a Japanese-American character in a move that was considered whitewashing by the internet.
While there are usually arguments on both sides when it comes to swapping the race of established characters for their cinematic adaptations, it looks like Skrein was quick to realize the issue he was involved in and has now announced he will be stepping down from the role in the hopes that the studio will cast the character appropriately.
— Ed Skrein (@edskrein) August 28, 2017
Skrein’s decision and well-written exit from the film is a fantastic step for representation in Hollywood, from an actor who so obviously understands why this sort of whitewashing can be a problem. He’s also proving that the only way for real change to be effected in Hollywood is by white actors standing against these kinds of misguided casting decisions that take away good diverse roles in favor of more white dudes on the big screen.
Of course, there have been further claims that there is a double standard when it comes to race swapping, as in it’s okay to take a white character and make them more racially diverse, such as characters like Heimdall in Thor or Deadshot in Suicide Squad. Then we have race swaps for characters like The Ancient One in Doctor Strange or The Major in Ghost in the Shell, both accused of whitewashing by fans. The double standard comes when the argument against whitewashing clashes with the other types of changes that are often done with the idea of better representation in mind by taking characters whose backgrounds are not culturally significant and allowing those roles to go to non-white actors. In the case of Hellboy and Major Ben Daimio, his mixed heritage is a large part of his character and factors into a number of storylines in the Hellboy universe that delve further into his history as the son of an Imperial agent known as the Crimson Lotus.
Again, while the arguments on both sides of the race swap argument could be for or against this move by Skrein, it is a great step in furthering representation in Hollywood, and hopefully, the studio will take notice and find a suitable actor for the role that doesn’t wipe out the heritage of the character.
What do you think of Ed Skrein’s departure from the film? Does the race of the character not matter to you as much as the actor’s ability to portray that character, or should the original source material reign supreme when adapting these stories? Who do you think should play Ben Daimio now that Skrein has left the picture? let us know in the comments section below and join the discussion on the GEEKexchange Discussion Group!
Images: Dark Horse