Advocacy group criticizes The Martian for erasing Asian-American characters

A media watchdog group has called out director Ridley Scott’s space drama The Martian for changing the race of two characters depicted as Asian-American in the source material.

The Media Action Network for Asian-Americans sent out a press release Thursday noting that Andy Weir’s original book features a character of Indian descent, Venkat Kapoor, who was changed to Vincent Kapoor and is played by the black British actor Chiwetel Ejiofor in the film, and a Korean American character, Mindy Park, who is played by the white actress Mackenzie Davis.

“This was a great opportunity to give meaty roles to talented Asian-American actors — and boost their careers — which would’ve enabled our community to become a greater part of the rescue team [portrayed in the film],” said Guy Aoki, founding president of MANAA, in a statement.

MANAA also pointed out that Scott’s previous film, Exodus: Gods and Kings, was criticized for casting white actors in Egyptian roles. Both Exodus and The Martian were released by Twentieth Century Fox.

Earlier this year, MANAA took Cameron Crowe and Sony Pictures to task for casting Emma Stone as a character who is one-quarter Asian and one-quarter Hawaiian in Aloha.

Representatives for Scott and Fox did not immediately reply to requests for comment.