Marvel never said that their planned Netflix series Iron Fist wasn’t going to happen, but the rumor mill made its own assumptions when the character wasn’t featured during the NY Comic-Con panel. Then, (while Marvel again made no comment) another rumor swirled that the company was considering casting an Asian actor in the role, based on a call-for-change from Keith Chow over at theNerdsOfColor.org. Now Marvel has finally made a statement about their secretive series in the simplest way possible, by hiring Scott Buck (Dexter) as showrunner and executive producer. The show will go on.
That Hashtag Show, who’ve broken Marvel news before, also announced today that their inside source leaked some casting details for Fist. Casting calls have been put out for characters Dylan Kendall and Harry Marshall, with Dylan’s profile listing him as mid-to-late 20s, handsome, sophisticated, and a loner. THS thinks the name is a mis-direct and the call is actually for Wendell or Danny Rand. The lack of racial description has excited fans who believe Marvel may in fact be looking for an Asian-American for the role.
Harry Marshall is described as being in his late 40s, Caucasian, highly-intelligent, merciless, arrogant, confident, and physically active. THS speculated this could be Steel Serpent, or Harold Meachum. Carrie-Anne Moss has been confirmed in her Jessica Jones role of Jeri Hogarth. They also revealed that “Kick” is the working title for the series, which will begin shooting in the spring in New York City.
Comicstorian has a nice primer on Iron Fist here:
I’d certainly hope that Marvel auditions all races for the lead role of Danny Rand, considers the character’s backstory, and weighs the benefits of changing it. Chow’s arguments are based on setting straight cultural records and subverting the original comic’s white savior syndrome.
In the comics, it turns out Danny is the most gifted student Lei Kung had ever trained. Because of course he is,” wrote Chow. “For all the fans who might decry an Iron Fist racebend, do you really want yet another white-guy-is-better-at-being-Asian-than-the-Asians story? But if Danny is Asian American, the scenes of him embracing the ways of K’un-L’un can be viewed through the lens of cultural re-connection. In fact, I’d play up Danny’s rejection of his Asian heritage prior to venturing to China.
Regardless of casting let’s hope that Marvel doesn’t monkey with the deeply mystical, unique story of Iron Fist, who derived his powers after years of training and a fight with a dragon in a Himalayan community that only appears on earth every 10th year. The afore-mentioned rumors about the show being canceled seemed to think Marvel was having a hard time reconciling the mysticism with the gritty tone designed for the street-heroes of the Netflix run. All four characters – Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Daredevil, and Iron Fist – are intended to join together for a Defenders show after their individual series’ runs.
As noted in The Hollywood Reporter, by the time Iron Fist hits cable (no date yet but it will be later than 2016) there will be more than 50 superheroes/villians playing major roles in the MCU. That’s a lot of Marvel, and it doesn’t even begin to touch on the DC or Fox-owned characters coming to market in the next two years. I’ve personally felt my interest in Marvel waning as characters clutter the screen. Arrogant, cocky, wise-cracking guys are getting a little stale (you better do something new Deadpool), and there’s just too much good, unique storytelling going on these days to keep coming back to big teams doing CGI fighting at speeds you can’t even track on the screen.
But Iron Fist’s story, all the way from his father’s discovery of the magic city, through the loss of his parents, his training, and trying to come back to modern life as a superhero with ancient roots, is fresh and diverting. He’s entirely removed from the world of Western superheroes and forced to grow up and grapple with cultural beliefs and power in an isolated realm of new and challenging ideas. It’s an incredibly rich story, and could meld well with the magical storylines that reach beyond earth in the Doctor Strange movie scheduled for release next November.
Give us more of that, Marvel! We’ll wait for it, and we’ll watch it.