Maybe Hollywood is finally learning. Shortly after Patty Jenkins was announced as the director of Wonder Woman 2 (and becoming the highest-paid female director in history), it has been announced by The Hollywood Reporter on Monday that former Hawaii Five-0 star Daniel Dae Kim is in talks to join Hellboy as Major Ben Daimio, a half-Asian villain from the comics, the role of which was previously filled by decidedly non-Asian actor Ed Skrein, before he departed the project amid controversy. That's both a huge relief and a boon for Kim, who deserves to be a part of a major franchise that values his talent.
EARLIER: It's a relief because, let's be honest: even after all of the outrage over Skrein's casting, there was no guarantee that the studio wouldn't just cast another Caucasian actor in the role to replace him. We're talking about an industry that has continued to cast White actors in non-White roles time after time (see: Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time, Avatar: The Last Airbender, The Lone Ranger, Exodus: Gods And Kings, Pan, Gods Of Egypt, The Great Wall… I could go on). As recently as last year's Doctor Strange, a comic book adaptation turned a character typically portrayed as Asian into a White woman.
In the case of Skrein, the actor soon realized that he was given an opportunity that could have been offered to an actor of minority descent. The Game Of Thrones actor did bow out gracefully, saying in a statement:
"It is clear that representing this character in a culturally accurate way holds significance for people, and that to neglect this responsibility would continue a worrying tendency to obscure ethnic minority stories and voices in the Arts. I feels it is important to honour and respect that."
This news is also obviously a boon for Kim, who recently found himself at the middle of an entirely different Hollywood diversity controversy, when he and co-star Grace Park left CBS' Hawaii Five-O in a salary dispute, in which Kim and Park were seeking equal pay with their colleagues. Kim and Park — who had played Chin Ho Kelly and Kono Kalakaua since the series premiere, for seven seasons and 168 episodes — made the bold decision to quit their cushy, steady jobs on a long-running and popular series.
A CBS spokesperson said in a statement to Variety in June:
“We are so appreciative of Daniel and Grace’s enormous talents, professional excellence and the aloha spirit they brought to each and every one of our 168 episodes. They’ve helped us build an exciting new Hawaii Five-0, and we wish them all the best and much success in their next chapters. Mahalo and a hui hou…”
On Facebook, Kim wrote the following in a message to his fans: "Though I made myself available to come back, CBS and I weren’t able to agree to terms on a new contract, so I made the difficult choice not to continue."
Landing a job on a high-profile superhero movie is just about the best possible upside for Kim. Hopefully the Hellboy reboot will be successful and Kim can return for more sequels down the line. And even if his villain gets killed off in the first movie, at least a juicy role like this will only raise Kim's profile, officially minting him as a desirable actor worthy of big-budget blockbuster fare — which he totally deserves.
While Hawaii Five-0 fans are probably still sad to see Kim and Park go, it can't be denied that this news could be huge for Kim's career, as well as diversity in Hollywood.