If recent comments by Thor: Ragnarok star Tessa Thompson are anything to go by, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is set to make diversity and inclusion one of the pillars of their output throughout Phase Four and beyond, with rumors that it could even lead to wholesale changes for the franchise’s roster of marquee superheroes.
Projects like Black Panther II, The Eternals and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, among others, seem to reinforce this notion, but in an explosive new interview, Daredevil‘s Peter Shinkoda, who played Nobu in seasons 1 and 2, claims that former Marvel TV boss Jeph Loeb actively discouraged the writers on the show from fleshing out or giving backstories to the Netflix series’ Asian characters.
“Jeph Loeb told the writer’s room not to write for Nobu and Gao, and this was reiterated many times by many of the writers and showrunners, that nobody cares about Chinese people and Asian people. ‘There was three previous Marvel movies, a trilogy called Blade, where Wesley Snipes kills 200 Asians each movie, nobody gives a f**k, so don’t write about Nobu and Gao’. And they were forced to put their storyline down and drop it. But all that backstory was dropped, and the writers that told me they were reluctant to do it because they were so stoked about the storyline, but they were prevented. So I had to concoct this other storyline and then rock that material that I was given. Regretfully, I didn’t get to ever explore that.”
A lot of fans were left wondering why the Hand factored so heavily into both Daredevil and The Defenders without being particularly interesting or engaging antagonists, and Shinkoda’s comments seem to indicate that it was a decision that came from the very top. If this is indeed the case, then you can understand why one of Kevin Feige’s first orders of business after taking control of Marvel Studios’ TV division was to show Loeb the door.
Feige previously admitted that none of the Marvel shows are considered canon anymore, with The Falcon and the Winter Soldier set to mark the official expansion onto the small screen, so anything that Jeph Loeb was involved with is no longer part of official continuity anyway. There were always rumors of friction between the heads of the company’s movie and TV arms, and if Shinkoda’s comments are indicative of Loeb’s approach to handling Asian characters, then the MCU is much better off without him.