“Iron Fist” star Finn Jones thinks part of the reason the latest Netflix Marvel show is getting panned is because of the American political climate — in particular, Donald Trump.
Speaking to Radio Times, Jones said part of the problem is that his “Iron Fist” character, Danny Rand, is a white billionaire. And as he sees it, the one of those currently holding the U.S. presidency is making critics less receptive to Danny’s story.
“I think the world has changed a lot since we were filming that television show,” he said in the interview. “I’m playing a white American billionaire superhero at a time when the white American billionaire archetype is public enemy No. 1, especially in the U.S.
“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 No. 1.”
Critics have come down hard on Netflix’s fourth superhero series, which releases on the streaming service on March 17. The first six episodes are available to critics, and Jones said he thinks it takes seeing more of the 13-episode series (and the next one the character of the Iron Fist will take part in, “Defenders”) to really understand his journey.
Jones is probably correct that the political climate has a lot to do with how the show is being received. The show went into production amid an increasingly prominent conversation about the lack of Asian-American or Asian representation in American film and TV — a conversation that was intensified by another Marvel production, 2016’s “Doctor Strange,” which drew much criticism for casting Tilda Swinton in a role written as an Asian Man in the original comics.
As created for Marvel comics in 1974, the character of Danny Rand is a white man trained in a mystical Eastern martial art to become the Iron Fist, a champion warrior with the power to channel enormous amounts of chi energy into his fist. But given that stories about white men who reap the benefits of “Eastern” wisdom and far surpass the achievements of Asians have fallen far out of favor, before the series began filming, many suggested that an Asian actor should have been cast in the role of Danny, rather than a white one.
Negative reviews, so far at least, have singled out plotting, writing, and tone for criticism. And they have made much more discussion of how “Iron Fist” depicts Danny Rand in relation to Asian characters and traditions, than they have of Danny Rand’s socioeconomic status. It would seem then that whatever the show’s problems may be, they are deeper and less recent than the 45th president of the United States.