Right now is a good time to be a superhero on television. Supergirl on CBS just premiered to the biggest numbers of the fall season, ABC is moving forward with an Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. spinoff, and Jessica Jones is primed to be Netflix’s next superhero du jour. Speaking of Netflix, the streaming service, its partnership with Marvel promised us individual series starring four heroes — the aforementioned Jessica Jones, Daredevil, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist. Of those four, though, only Iron Fist remains in development hell. Mainly because no one has cracked the story yet.
Fortunately, with the help of MC Nedelsky and MCU Exchange, we think we’ve figured it out. So starting tomorrow, we’re going to present a five-part series that would effectively introduce Iron Fist to new audiences, add greater diversity to the MCU, and do justice to one of Marvel’s most badass characters.
You’re welcome, Marvel.
The rumors of trouble on the Netflix Iron Fist series have been swirling since the summer1. Even though Easter eggs were dropped throughout Daredevil — not to mention Marvel’s comic side recently announcing an all new Power Man and Iron Fist series by none other than David Walker and Sanford Greene — Marvel’s television lords seemingly cannot find anyone with the right vision for the series.
Part of the problem, it seems, is that no one at Marvel Studios can figure out how to bring the character’s “mystical” elements into the grim and gritty universe established by Daredevil — which we’ll tackle more in-depth later. I think the other nut they’re finding difficult to crack is the fact that the general Iron Fist story as a white-dude-kung-fu-champion-fish-out-of-water is trite at best, racist at worst.
I’ve written before how recasting Danny Rand as Asian American solves a number of these issues without changing the heart of the character, but for some fans this isn’t sufficient. They seem to think that the Orientalist issues of Iron Fist are either irrelevant or central to the character and often argue that the only type of racebending they are okay with is one that has a narrative justification — otherwise it’s just “diversity for diversity’s sake.”
Leaving aside the obvious issues with that argument — the best critique of which is the popular chocolate raisins metaphor — we’d argue that having Danny be Asian American actually is narratively justified. In fact, it helps smooth out the extremely convoluted continuity from the comics. Given that all comic book adaptations take liberties with the source material to make them more accessible, this special series of posts will offer small but major changes to Iron Fist continuity that not only would help with bringing the character to Netflix, but add greater diversity to the Marvel Cinematic Universe — and in a way that is narratively justified.
There’s no better time than the present to do this, Marvel. In addition to the aforementioned television superhero renaissance we are currently living through, AMC is about to resurrect the martial arts drama with Into the Badlands — starring not one, but two Asian American leads, natch. I’ve seen it, and it’s the real deal.
So all of this talk about not having the right “vision” for the series? Yeah, we don’t buy it. Marvel needs to strike now while the iron (fist) is hot. And all this week, we’re going to show them how to do it.
OTHER POSTS IN THE SERIES:
- The Original Post from March 2014
- Why Netflix Can Handle Mysticism
- Casting Danny Rand
- Introducing Danny Rand to a New Audience
- Why an Asian American Danny Rand Matters
- Why Does Danny Rand Need to be White?
- Race, Politics, and the Third Self: Why We Need Iron Fist and Ms. Marvel to be Asian American
- Fear of an Asian Martial Artist: The Thing about Stereotypes and #AAIronFist
- Cole Horibe and Charles Pulliam Talk #AAIronFist
- So Much for #AAIronFist: Marvel Casts Finn Jones
- Shang-Chi is Coming to Netflix, Still Doesn’t Negate Need for #AAIronFist
- #AAIronFist Fan Art by Alison Roberts
- However, the latest from Bleeding Cool — who are the ones who most recently reported on Iron Fist troubles — says that according to their sources “Iron Fist at Netflix is fine at the moment,” which also syncs up with other reports. ↩
- Speaking of the Punisher, one of the various rumors swirling around the various Netflix series suggests that Jon Bernthal’s take on the character in Daredevil season two is so compelling that he might replace Iron Fist in the lineup. ↩