Marvel’s “Iron Fist”
Starting in 2015 with the Netflix series “Daredevil,” Marvel Studios has been producing shows on the streaming service that revolve around different characters in the Marvel Universe outside of “The Avengers” movies. Last year, Marvel’s “Jessica Jones” and “Luke Cage” were two of the most watched series on Netflix. On March 17, “Iron Fist” was released with much anticipation and some controversy. Similar to the Avengers style of releasing films, all these series will converge in a series called, “The Defenders.”
The character, “Iron Fist” is a white male both in his Netflix series portrayal and the original comic book character on which the show is based. This fact raised some controversy, given recent criticism of Hollywood’s cultural appropriation of Asian cultures in films like “Doctor Strange” and the newly released “Ghost in the Shell.” As in the 1970s TV show, “Kung Fu,” long criticized for having a white actor playing a Chinese kung fu monk, the main character in “Iron Fist” embraces Buddhist wisdom and is a kung fu master. English actor, Finn Jones, who was cast to play Iron Fist, does his best to stay true with the character’s original appearance in the comic books.
Perhaps in anticipation of criticism, the series features British East Asian co-star Jessica Yu Li Henwick as Colleen Wing, who is given several independent fight sequences, where she is shown to be a formidable martial artist, and she fills the screen with several dramatic scenes, and not all of them as the love interest of the Iron Fist.
Another criticism of the show is that it may seem more about being part of the build-up for the upcoming series, “The Defenders,” than a show in its own right, unlike the previous series of “Daredevil,” “Jessica Jones” and “Luke Cage.” While there are references to the Iron Fist’s backstory, little of it covers his training and how he acquired his supernatural powers. The majority of the series is about Iron Fist’s loss of his parents in an airplane crash and his returning to New York City to find out who was behind their death. While fan approval of the show has been lukewarm, Iron Fist’s story has much room for story progression and character development.
Overall, Marvel’s “Iron Fist” deserves some compliments for its original content. The show doesn’t betray the personalities of the original comic book characters involved in the show, but changes some backgrounds to better suit the stories of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. We will have to see how Iron Fist complements the other Netflix super heroes in “The Defenders,” which will be released later in 2017.