Netflix seemed to go surprisingly late with the buildup for “Iron Fist” ahead of its release this coming Friday on the streaming service. Promotion around the new series had been comparatively soft compared to some of their other Marvel shows such as “Jessica Jones” and “Daredevil”.
When the reviews came out and the series was widely panned, the reasoning seemed clear. Nevertheless instead of going into damage control, those involved have continued promotional rounds for the show and right now the show’s star Finn Jones has been dropping quotes that have only kept the criticisms flowing.
Part of the criticism is a stretch. The character in the original comics is a white American billionaire, so claims of the series ‘whitewashing’ the character are incorrect. Nevertheless there was an obvious missed chance here for some suitable diversity by getting an Asian-American actor in the role.
More valid are criticisms about the quality of the material and the cliched nature of the story itself which sees yet another white male adopting Eastern wisdom and then surpassing everyone with it. Jones spoke with Radio Times this week and offered an explanation as to why he thinks there’s been a backlash – and it ties to a certain U.S. President:
“I think the world has changed a lot since we were filming that television show. I’m playing a white American billionaire superhero, at a time when the white American billionaire archetype is public enemy number one, especially in the US.
We filmed the show way before Trump’s election, and I think it’s very interesting to see how that perception, now that Trump’s in power, how it makes it very difficult to root for someone coming from white privilege, when that archetype is public enemy number one.
Danny is a fish out of water, and you don’t really understand where he’s coming from. But I think there’s also a level of intrigue. People need to see the full series – ‘Iron Fist’ doesn’t end until the last episode of ‘Defenders.’ He really goes on a journey of self-discovery, and grows into the role. It’s paced out; it’s a long journey.”
In a separate interview with Vulture, Jones talked about being forced to defend the show and his character – something that effectively began from the moment he was cast. The interview, conducted last Fall, was in the wake of some terse reaction to the first trailer and long before the reviews for the show went online:
“There’s so much outrage in the internet these days, right? Why don’t people just – look, the issue is that people are judging before they’ve even seen the show. And that’s problematic. C’mon. Don’t get angry and start a mob when you don’t even — you haven’t even seen the show! You don’t even know what we’re doing with it. It’s unjust. It’s unfair.
Whatever issues they have may be true of the comic books; it was written in the ’70s. It was a very different time to where we’re at now. Very, very different. I get it. There needs to be more diversity in film and television, in all fucking aspects of life. There needs to be more diversity, period. Unfortunately, this show was picked, for whatever reason. I don’t fully understand, really, but what I say is, Watch the show. Watch the show, then make your opinions.
Netflix and Marvel are two of the most forward-thinking entertainment distributors out at the moment. They’re making very good choices, especially when it comes to diversity. And they’re not f–king this up. They know exactly what they’re doing.
The story we’re telling — people are going to be surprised at how we are going to handle this. To be honest, this is one of the most diverse shows I’ve ever worked on. It’s got an amazing cast from all different backgrounds, playing all different types of roles. I think as soon as the show comes out, all of that conversation will be completely muted, straight away.”
In related news, new set videos are out from the currently filming “The Defenders” event series in which Jones reprises his role and can be seen here shooting scenes with Mike Colter as Luke Cage, Krysten Ritter as Jessica Jones, Jessica Henwick as Colleen Wing, and Simone Missick as Misty Knight. A second video shows Charlie Cox suited up as Daredevil.