After months of waiting, preceded by years of rumors that #Netflix just couldn't find a way to make Iron Fist work, the trailer for the fourth Defenders show has finally dropped and it's... okay, I guess.
In the trailer we learn that Danny Rand, lost as a child in a plane crash, has finally returned to his family's company — to discover that a shady partner is reluctant to relinquish control. Good thing he knows Kung Fu.
Oh man! Oops! Wrong trailer. That's for DC/The CW's Arrow. Duh, that guy returns to his multi-billion dollar company knowing archery, not martial arts. Though, kinda martial arts too. But he doesn't have a glowing fist. Anyway, here's the #IronFist video.
Boy, doesn't that just look... like something we haven't seen a bunch of times before!
In all seriousness, as Danny throws down some cool martial arts moves before revealing his secret superpower, we're left wondering just what this show adds to the genre — and whether a different comic book Defender might have been a better bet for Netflix.
Adding Something New... Or Not
When #Daredevil first came out, it was lauded as an innovative addition to the superhero genre. Instead of saving the world from larger-than-life villains, Matt Murdoch made it his personal mission to rid Hell's Kitchen of criminals. Daredevil lowered the stakes in a really interesting way, giving a more grounded perspective to the often overdramatic world of superheroes — and Matt's sensory abilities were fascinating to explore.
Then came #JessicaJones, arguably one of the darkest feminist series ever to grace television, tackling rape, abuse, and mine control in a way that was nothing short of revolutionary — all the while blending superheroes with the noir detective genre. #LukeCage explored the themes of racism, telling stories that needed to be told, and out of all the shows it's perhaps the most realistic when it came to portraying life in New York City.
And now we have Iron Fist, who is... a rich white dude who can do Karate? That's a simplification, sure, but watching the trailer it really doesn't feel like this show is adding anything we haven't seen before quite a lot already. The business corruption angle has been done by Arrow, and Daredevil did martial arts to death — especially in the second season. (Seriously, who thought ninjas in Daredevil were a good idea when Iron Fist's main selling point is the martial arts angle?)
The Asian aesthetic, again present by Daredevil, is somewhat problematic in Iron Fist — just as it was in Doctor Strange. The rich-and-powerful-white-guy-loses-everything-learns-cool-stuff-from-Asians concept was very much covered by Marvel's latest movie, and we don't really need to see the basic story again so soon.
A Tired Retread
The final show to complete the Defenders team shouldn't really feel like a retread over cliches of the genre. Where's Iron Fist's edge? What new perspective is this show adding?
The Netflix #Marvel shows have become something of a hallmark of quality, a cut above your average superhero series. And I can't help but wonder if they simply made the wrong choice with Iron Fist. Sure, he's a popular superhero (not like, super popular), but there are plenty of other — far more interesting — comic book Defenders for Netflix to choose from. (*cough* Blade) That's not to mention that by choosing someone else, Netflix would have also sidestepped the awkward cultural-appropriation inherent in Danny's story.
And it seems like Netflix knows all of this. A lot of the Iron Fist marketing has really doubled down on the fact that his is the last show we have to watch before The Defenders — which is arguably more eagerly anticipated. Actor Finn Jones even told Entertainment Weekly that Danny's arc spills over into #TheDefenders, and what he has to say makes Iron Fist sound even less appealing.
"I see it as kind of this journey where 'Iron Fist' and 'The Defenders' is like the complete first season of Danny’s journey. It’s really nice to play it back-to-back because Danny does go through this awesome huge arc, so the end of 'Iron Fist' is like the halfway point. In 'The Defenders', he’s got a grasp of who he is and he’s trying to do something with it."
Hmmm. Good to know that by completely skipping Iron Fist I'll just be glossing over Danny's kinda dull origin story! Fab. I'll just go ahead and not watch it then.
But here's the rub (again) — as the last Defender, Danny really should be adding something to the team, whether this be a different skill or a vital perspective. As it is, Danny just knows martial arts (like Matt) and can punch really hard (like Jessica and Luke), so the only thing the Defenders gain is... another person to bulk them out.
It's not even like Iron Fist is a crucial member of the comic book version of the team. In fact, he didn't even join until quite late on. While a lot of the Defenders are fairly C-list superheroes, there are some that really stand out as being potentially more interesting additions to the Netflix team. Specifically, I'd have loved to have seen Moondragon or Northstar — and as openly queer superheroes, Marvel would have finally introduced some LGBT representation that has so far been conspicuously absent.
But who knows, maybe I'm judging Iron Fist too harshly. After all, the show hasn't even come out yet. But so far nothing I've seen of Iron Fist makes the last Defender seem worth my time — which is disappointing, after the other Netflix Marvel shows set the bar so high. At least I still have The Defenders to look forward to!
Are you excited to watch 'Iron Fist'?
[Source: Entertainment Weekly]