Don’t Worry, There’s many Great Iron Fist—It’s simply not on Netflix

The critical pile-on of Iron Fist has officially reached comedy status. The fourth of Netflix’s Marvel shows (and also the final lead-in to next year’s Defenders teamup) premieres today, together with reception on very first couple of episodes is not sort. While that’s largely the fault of dull writing and plodding plotting, though, Iron Fist himself hasn’t been helping. As soon as that Netflix announced the casting of Finn Jones once the titular hero, there’s a been a steady drumbeat of complaints about a white man playing the greatest martial musician in world—a issue who has just become louder as Jones has waded intro the fray, getting defensive on Twitter and suggesting that folks are just complaining because Donald Trump is President.

To be fair, numerous comic book fans attended toward defense of Jones’ casting. Yes, they argue, it could be racially insensitive to enjoy a white man be Marvel’s best martial artist; and yeah, it is another exemplory instance of Marvel’s reliance in the “white savior” trope, one more troubling after last year’s Doctor Strange turned The Ancient One from an Asian up to a Caucasian role. But, they insist, it’s canon, because Iron Fist had been actually white.

That’s real: Danny Rand, the Iron Fist on show, is certainly the primary Iron Fist in comic book continuity. But that doesn’t mean that Danny Rand may be the only Iron Fist in Marvel’s comic guide mythology. As early as their 2nd comic book appearance (in 1972’s Marvel Premiere #16), there is the implication that Iron Fist had beenn’t an individual’s identity as much as a shared mantle that had been worn by different people throughout history. It could just take years for that idea in the future into focus, however when it did—courtesy associated with the 2006 Immortal Iron Fist show by Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction, and David Aja—it revolutionized Iron Fist as a concept, so that as a superhero identity.

Rand, Immortal Iron Fist unveiled, had been the sixty-seventh Iron Fist to that point. Although the show only introduced visitors to seven of their 66 predecessors, all except one of them had been of Asian descent. Beyond Quan Yazou, the original Iron Fist, there have been Li Park, Bein Ming-Tian, Wu Ao-Shi, Bei Bang-Wen and Kwai Jun-Fan—and do not require had been a hipster form of Bruce Wayne.(Though it is telling that the series invested more hours because of the seventh predecessor, a white guy called Orson Randall, than some of the other people.)

Nor had been Iron Fist’s Asian legacy only previously; both in Immortal Iron Fist and subsequent show Iron Fist: The residing Weapon, the article writers founded that the future associated with Iron Fist had been distinctly un-Caucasian. The previous show flashed-forward towards 12 months 3099 to introduce Wah Sing-Rand, while The Living gun showed a feminine monk called Pei possessing the Iron Fist.

In lots of ways, this might be commensurate with Marvel’s basic direction about comic guide representation throughout the last couple of years. Once upon a time, the company’s catalog of heroes who had been ladies or individuals of color was restricted to sidekicks, supporting characters, additionally the periodic team-member. Recently, however, more familiar superhero identities have already been converted into franchises having an aim of more accurately reflecting the planet outside your window. The half-Black, half-Latino Miles Morales became a second Spider-Man; Sam Wilson—formerly the high-flying Falcon—signed on as new Captain America; Thor had been replaced as god of thunder by his ex-girlfriend Jane Foster.

While that trend seems to be continuing to the day—Invincible Iron Man had been recently relaunched having teenage girl taking the place of Tony Stark—there remains a horde of traditionalists for who there can just only be one form of any given character. Most of the time, meaning the original variation, when just about everyone was a white guy. It’s worth noting that Marvel is seeing historically low sales of its month-to-month games, resulting in rumors of the relaunch later this season that may restore the white male variations of its big names assured of attractive to long-lasting fans.

Is the fact that conservative impulse among fandom the main reason that Marvel didn’t try to switch things up when selecting a TV form of Iron Fist? It’s not clear. The business’s movies and TV adaptations often hew towards the “classic” assumes figures, however constantly: Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury and Agents of SHIELD‘s Ghost Rider had been predicated on later incarnations rather than the initial (white) ones. However, if you’re convinced that Netflix’s Iron Fist must be white due to “canon,” forget it: A full 80% associated with the comic guide Iron Fists currently haven’t white. There’s more than enough material offered to help an alternative take. Perhaps those worried about fidelity to your source product should ask by themselves why Marvel didn’t really choose canon originally.

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Don’t Worry, There’s Plenty of Great Iron Fist—It’s Just Not on Netflix

The critical pile-on of Iron Fist has officially reached comedy status. The fourth of Netflix’s Marvel shows (and the final lead-in to next year’s Defenders teamup) premieres today, and the reception to the first few episodes has not been kind. While that’s largely the fault of dull writing and plodding plotting, though, Iron Fist himself hasn’t been helping. From the moment that Netflix announced the casting of Finn Jones as the titular hero, there’s a been a steady drumbeat of complaints about a white guy playing the greatest martial artist in the world—a complaint that has only become louder as Jones has waded intro the fray, getting defensive on Twitter and suggesting that people are only complaining because Donald Trump is President.

To be fair, many comic book fans have come to the defense of Jones’ casting. Sure, they argue, it might be racially insensitive to have a white guy be Marvel’s best martial artist; and yeah, it’s another example of Marvel’s reliance on the “white savior” trope, one more troubling after last year’s Doctor Strange turned The Ancient One from an Asian to a Caucasian role. But, they insist, it’s canon, because Iron Fist was actually white.

That’s true: Danny Rand, the Iron Fist on the show, is indeed the primary Iron Fist in comic book continuity. But that doesn’t mean that Danny Rand is the only Iron Fist in Marvel’s comic book mythology. As early as his second comic book appearance (in 1972’s Marvel Premiere #16), there was the implication that Iron Fist wasn’t an individual’s identity as much as a shared mantle that had been worn by different people throughout history. It would take decades for that idea to come into focus, but when it did—courtesy of the 2006 Immortal Iron Fist series by Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction, and David Aja—it revolutionized Iron Fist as a concept, and as a superhero identity.

Rand, Immortal Iron Fist revealed, was the sixty-seventh Iron Fist to that point. Although the series only introduced readers to seven of his 66 predecessors, all but one of them was of Asian descent. Beyond Quan Yazou, the original Iron Fist, there were Li Park, Bein Ming-Tian, Wu Ao-Shi, Bei Bang-Wen and Kwai Jun-Fan—and none of them were a hipster version of Bruce Wayne.(Though it’s telling that the series spent more time with the seventh predecessor, a white dude named Orson Randall, than any of the others.)

Nor was Iron Fist’s Asian legacy only in the past; in both Immortal Iron Fist and subsequent series Iron Fist: The Living Weapon, the writers established that the future of the Iron Fist was distinctly un-Caucasian. The former series flashed-forward to the year 3099 to introduce Wah Sing-Rand, while The Living Weapon showed a young female monk called Pei possessing the Iron Fist.

In many ways, this is in keeping with Marvel’s general direction with regards to comic book representation over the last few years. Once upon a time, the company’s catalog of heroes who were women or people of color was limited to sidekicks, supporting characters, and the occasional team-member. More recently, though, more familiar superhero identities have been turned into franchises with an aim of more accurately reflecting the world outside your window. The half-Black, half-Latino Miles Morales became a second Spider-Man; Sam Wilson—formerly the high-flying Falcon—signed on as a new Captain America; Thor was replaced as god of thunder by his ex-girlfriend Jane Foster.

While that trend seems to be continuing to this day—Invincible Iron Man was recently relaunched with a teenage girl taking the place of Tony Stark—there remains a horde of traditionalists for whom there can only be one version of any given character. More often than not, that means the original version, when almost everyone was a white dude. It’s worth noting that Marvel is seeing historically low sales of its monthly titles, leading to rumors of a relaunch later this year that will restore the white male versions of its big names in hopes of appealing to long-term fans.

Is that conservative impulse among fandom the reason that Marvel didn’t try to switch things up when selecting a TV version of Iron Fist? It’s unclear. The company’s movies and TV adaptations tend to hew towards the “classic” takes on characters, but not always: Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury and Agents of SHIELD‘s Ghost Rider were based on later incarnations rather than the original (white) ones. But if you’re convinced that Netflix’s Iron Fist should be white because of “canon,” forget it: A full 80% of the comic book Iron Fists to date haven’t white. There’s more than enough material available to support an alternative take. Perhaps those concerned with fidelity to the source material should ask themselves why Marvel didn’t really go with canon in the first place.

Go Back to Top. Skip To: Start of Article.