I am an unabashed fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (for all its flaws). When people accuse others of being Apple fanboys, I now know what they’re talking about. And more specifically, I think Netflix and Marvel have helped reinvent television (potential hyperbole). That said, today’s Iron Fist trailer out of the New York Comic Con gave me pause.
Now it might be unfair to judge too much based off a teaser trailer, but this seems like a departure from the rest of the Netflix Marvel franchise. While it promises some fun action, it also just looks so… generic. The other teasers established more of the conflict or, at least, offered clever glimpses into the characters and abilities. All I see here is a white guy who apparently hung out with some Asian monks and can now fight real good. It just feels like standard action movie fare (with strong hints of that white savior deliciousness) as if it’s a remake of an early 90’s Jean-Claude Van Damme flick. Also, why isn’t he named Glowy Fist?
I don’t know much about Iron Fist so I Google’d him and am now even more unsure of how he fits into the franchise. There doesn’t seem to be much to his story: he fights, he’s rich, and he’s the most gifted kung fu student in a class full of Asians while being white. Because of fucking course. So far, the Netflix Marvel franchise has brilliantly showcased remarkable heroes from traditionally underrepresented groups fighting their foes in the context of very modern issues. Daredevil gave us a disabled man struggling against the forces of gentrification. Jessica Jones gave us a woman struggling with abuse. Luke Cage gave us a black man and the realities of the black American experience. Even with the upcoming Punisher series, I can imagine strong themes of mental health and veterans issues. Iron Fist is a white guy who lives in a sweet NYC apartment with a really nice couch. And of course, that’s a character that can certainly exist, but we already have that in spades in the big-screen Marvel universe.
So I’m curious how Iron Fist is going to fill out The Defenders universe. Plot-wise, it seems like his existence is to deal with the ninja situation of the second season of Daredevil. But will his story highlight any part of our modern human experience, making it a central part of the story, the way the other shows have? I don’t see a path to that right now. I hope I’m proven wrong, but this is a rare moment in the MCU* where I’m apathetic towards an upcoming property.
*also didn’t care about Ant-Man after Edgar Wright bailed.