Daredevil Actor Peter Shinkoda Says Jeph Loeb Told Writers Not to Develop Asian Characters

Peter Shinkoda as Nobu in Daredevil.
Peter Shinkoda as Nobu in Daredevil.
Photo: Netflix

In an effort to drum up support for a revival of Netflix’s now-canceled Daredevil live-action series, the #SaveDaredevil campaign recently gathered a trio of actors from the show to field questions from the fandom and to talk about their experiences shooting. While much of the conversation centered on positive experiences the actors had on set, Peter Shinkoda, who played Nobu, took a moment to be frank and honest about one negative element of the production that he says led directly to the sidelining of his character.

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While talking about the backstory for Nobu that he developed, Shinkoda began to give an explanation as to why, after spending a significant chunk of Daredevil’s first season playing one of the show’s more prominent villains who ends up dying in a freak accident, he then reappeared late in Daredevil’s second season in a handful of episodes with no real character development.

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According to Shinkoda, there were originally plans to delve deeper into Nobu’s character and to flesh out his dynamic with Madame Gao (Wai Ching Ho), but those ideas were sidelined thanks to then-Marvel TV head Jeph Loeb. Loeb’s reasoning, Shinkoda said, boiled down to his belief that “nobody cares about Chinese people and Asian people.”

“Jeph Loeb told the writer’s room not to write for Nobu and Gao,” Shinkoda said. “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 shit, so don’t write about Nobu and Gao,’ and they were forced to put their storyline down and drop it.”

Shinkoda’s accusations against Loeb are particularly galling given how Daredevil was often a series in which a white hero squared off against hordes of often faceless and nameless adversaries of Asian descent who were all literally members of an evil cult of ninjas who worshipped a demon. This was also one of the more glaring issues with Netflix’s Iron Fist, a series whose second season Loeb introduced at San Diego Comic-Con in 2018 while wearing karate gi, a move that many people saw as a racially insensitive response to critiques of the series.

Though Loeb’s no longer the head of Marvel’s TV offerings, we’ve reached out to both Netflix and Marvel for comment about the accusations being leveled against him and will update if and when we hear back.

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io9 Culture Critic and Staff Writer. Cyclops was right.

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DISCUSSION

alliterator85
alliterator

In contrast to this, Agents of SHIELD has had great Asian representation — two main characters, Melinda May and Daisy Johnson, are Asian-American — but, in all likelihood, this is due to the fact that Maurissa Tancharoen, one of the showrunners, is Asian-American herself.

As for Daredevil, the entire show had a problem with Asian representation, since, yeah, most of the Asian characters were just “ninja redshirts.” They had a chance with Elektra and Nobu, but neither character had any sort of interesting backstory established or episode that looked into their motivations.

Season 3 turned things around, I think, by actually delving into the side characters more, like Ray Nadeem. But it still lacked any sort of Asian representation. At least with Iron Fist, we had Colleen Wing.