The first season of Daredevil was incredible, and Jessica Jones raised that bar even higher. But as good as they were – and as good as Daredevil season two is looking and all the potential for Luke Cage – there’s always been one particular title in Marvel’s roster of Netflix TV series that has had me the most excited: Iron Fist.
To call me a fan of the classic pulp mystical martial-arts adventure comic book is just putting it lightly, and I’ve been eagerly waiting with bated breath (and the occasional bit of dread) to hear any developments that Marvel has made on the adaptation. Well, according to EW, they’ve just taken their first big step by casting Game of Thrones star Finn Jones as the titular kung fu fightin’ hero!
Besides for just the mop of unruly hair, Jones’ GoT character Ser Loras Tyrel is certainly a far cry from Danny Rand. Whereas one is a popular knight hiding his sexuality from the adoring masses, the other is a wealthy businessman industrialist who “at the age of 9 travels with his family to a lost mystical city called K’un-L’un. After some tragic twists of fate, Rand is adopted by the city’s ruler and taught advanced martial arts and the mystical power of the Iron Fist. As an adult, Rand returns to his native New York City and begins a career as a superhero”.
That all sounds pretty generic, I know, but thanks to the work of writers like Ed Brubaker, there is a massive, incredibly cool mythology that has been developed for this series. It’s like all the classic kung fu movies you loved, but with that violently cool Tarantino swagger to it. At least that’s what the modern comics brought to the table. With the way Daredevil and Jessica Jones stuck to the tones of their source material though, I can only expect that Iron Fist will do the same.
The only question is how Marvel and Netflix are going to approach the more mystical elements. Sure Daredevil had crazy ninjas and badass Chinese grannies, while Jessica Jones had a guy who could literally talk you to death, it’s all still been very grounded. Now we’re dealing with a character who gets his powers after engaging in fist fight with a dragon, and also hangs out with people with names like Fat Cobra and Bride of Nine Spiders. Get the right showrunner who can nail that combination of neo-noir badassness and classic kung fu sensibilities, and we could be in for something incredible.
While I’ve never had Jones leave enough of an impression on me to truly say whether he not he would be a good Iron Fist – Ser Loras is foppish through and through which is nothing like Danny Rand at all – he’s casting is sure to stir up some vitriol in some corners of the internet. Before the casting announcement, there was a vocal group petitioning for Danny Rand to be played by an Asian actor, saying that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is desperately low on minority characters, particular Asians, and what better way platform than such an Asio-centric story.
Here’s the problem though: Danny Rand has always been white, springing out of the kung fu explosion of the 1970’s – which also gave birth to the blaxploitation character of Luke Cage who Iron Fist teamed up with often – and while casting him as Asian ups the diversity figures, it also smacks of Asians only being good enough for martial arts stuff. It’s really a situation where whatever Marvel did, somebody was going to grumble. Personally I’m happy they stuck to the source, as Rand’s whiteness in the very Asian culture of K’un-L’un is actually something that plays into the story. And besides, if they made Iron Fist an Asian guy, what would poor Shang Chi think?
Last Updated: February 25, 2016