Netflix’s Iron Fist: First Impression

So, maybe it is a bit early to write anything about Iron Fist on Netflix, but I thought I would comment anyway. There has been a lot of criticism of the show, almost all of it coming before anyone had seen a single episode, which I think is pretty unfair. Unfortunately, the internet being what it is, having negative comments will likely have a significant effect on the viewership, whether the criticism is warranted or not.

The main issue (at least initially) lay with the casting of  Finn Jones (formerly of Game of Thrones fame) in the titular role of Danny Rand/ Iron Fist. A rather vocal group of supposed fans made it clear that Danny– a caucasian character in the comics– should have been changed to an Asian one, both to allow for increased diversity in superhero fiction and to avoid cultural appropriation. The argument was made that by casting Jones, Marvel overlooked as opportunity to avoid the White Saviour trope. Other argued that Marvel was doing the right thing by casting in accordance with the character’s appearance in the comics.

As I often do whenever this sort of thing arises, I have conflicting thoughts; on one hand, as a comic book fan, I love when they stay as close as possible to the source material. On the other hand, I do agree that we need more diversity in our superheroes (and fiction in general). My wife is Asian and thus my kids are half Asian, so I think it would be great to see more Asian characters, but I also think that rewriting characters isn’t always the way to go.

I happen to like Luke Cage. I enjoyed the Netflix series quite a bit, and also was a fan of the character in the comics. I think it is more effective to have (or create) a great black/ Asian/ gay/ whatever character than it is to co-opt an existing character and change them. Obviously, as a white guy, my opinion may differ from that of a person of colour, but it seems to me that by simply changing a character’s skin colour, ethnicity or sexuality for the sake of diversity, creators are saying that it would be too difficult to create a new, interesting character that fans would care for. I find that entirely false and need only to point to Kamala Khan as an example.

Danny Rand, however, is a bit more problematic, being a white guy who enters the mystical city of K’un L’un where he is trained in martial arts and ultimately gains the power of the Iron Fist. So, in essence, the white hero takes the ancient Asian martial art to go save the world, presumably because only a white guy can. The thing is, I don’t think that is what they are trying to imply. Unfortunately, these days we tend not to look at intentions, only what we perceive, and people are perceiving this is a largely negative way.

I have only watched the first episode so far, so it is hard to judge. The series may turn out to be horrible, or it may be amazing. For what it’s worth, I enjoyed what I have seen so far. I expect to like the rest of the series, although I know it is not without flaws. I don’t think the show is going to be anything groundbreaking, but I also don’t think it deserves to be hated. Comic adaptations are having a bit of a difficult time in the sense that if they change the source material, there is a negative reaction. Now in the case of Iron Fist, staying true to it is doing the same.

Finn Jones is not making any friends either, with his attempt at defending the show. I feel for him, because he presumably went into the show thinking it would be a good role for him and instead is having to play at politics as people attack him for simply being cast as Rand. I’m sure he was excited for the part. I’m sure he did his best with it. Bad enough that he should face the vitriol of angry fans, he must be aware that the work of virtually everyone involved with the show is now being looked down upon because of him. That can’t be easy.

Some suggested that a good compromise would have simply been to make Danny half-Asian. That would also have allowed them to play with the notion of him being caught between two worlds in a way that could appeal to a large part of the show’s potential audience. I think that could have worked, personally, but I am not sure how much it would have helped. It’s pretty clear that there are those who are determined to hate the show simply because it isn’t what they feel it should be.

I’m going to continue watching. I’m going to hope that it’s good. I’m also going to hope that enough other people watch it to make it successful, because we all know that the studios are entirely likely to assume that one “failed” series means that the bubble has burst for superhero shows, which could spell trouble for future projects.

Most of all, though, I hope that they find a way to appeal to all of the fans, though I know that’s unlikely.

What are your thoughts on Iron Fist? I’d love to hear from anyone who has watched it.

Craig

 

This Week’s Reads: March 15

I picked up more than usual this week and was looking forward to a number of titles, but… nothing really excited me in this batch. Some fairly good stuff, but nothing overly exciting. The titles that I grabbed this week are:

Aquaman #19

Aquaman joins forces with the Aquamarines to investigate a research base that has gone dark while studying the mutagenic Strange Water. By Abnett and Briones

Batman #19

I Am Bane continues as Bane pursues the Dark Knight through Arkham Asylum, tearing through the inmates in the process.By King and Finch

Batwoman #1

The Many Arms of Death part 1. As Batwoman continues to “do what Batman can’t” in pursuing those dealing in the bioweapon monster venom, she finds herself back on the island nation of Coryana, facing both her past and those she left behind. By Bennett & Tynion Iv and Epting

Justice League #17

Timeless part 3. The Justice League battles on several fronts from the distant past to the far future in an effort to thwart the plans of the Timeless, while Superman is offered the choice of saving his friends or his family. By Hitch and Pasarin

Nightwing #17

Nightwing and Robin race to France in pursuit of the missing Shawn Tseng while also dealing with the difficulties between them, setting the stage for another battle with “one of the sickest minds” they have ever encountered. By Seeley and Fernandez

Super Sons #2

Robin and Superboy face off against Lex Luthor as the threat of Kid Amazo grows. By Tomasi and Jiminez

Trinity #7

The New Pandoras. Lex Luthor, Ra’s Al Ghul and the goddess Circe are drawn together in their own unholy trinity by an unknown force.By Bunn and Mann & Mendoca

Superman #19 **Pick of the Week**

Superman Reborn part 3. As he faces an old foe for the life of his son, Superman learns the truth of his existence and his connection to the fallen Superman of the New 52. By Tomasi and Gleason

 

Spoilers Follow

I had a hard time choosing a pick of the week, as nothing really stood out for me as being especially exciting. I ultimately chose Superman because it is finally starting to give some answers to the whole mystery surrounding Superman and his connection to his fallen counterpart.

I was a little underwhelmed by the big reveal. It was easy enough to guess that he and the New 52 Superman were actually one being split in two. What is somewhat surprising is that the “blue” Superman– representing his hope and optimism– should be the older, more experienced Superman. I also have to wonder why Lois would be split in two. And why would one Superman/ Lois remember the old universe while the other didn’t? And what does this mean for Jon?

Given that the New-52 Superman/ Lois are the embodiment of the “red energy,” I am questioning whether Lana Lang will continue as Superwoman. Reading the last issue of her own book, it looked like she was about to be de-powered, at least until the last page. Now I am not sure, though the implication seems to be that she (and others like the New Superman) are merely holding onto the red energy until Superman can reclaim it.

It seems as though the fusion of red Superman and blue Superman might explain why his upcoming new costume will have the metallic-looking boots, as he becomes an amalgam of the two characters.

Aside from Superman, my other two favourites this week were Super Sons and Nightwing, which is somewhat surprising given that both feature the ever-annoying Damian Wayne. I will admit, though, that Damian is less annoying when paired with Dick or Jon. I’m not sure if he’ll ever  reach a point where I find him likeable, unless the overarching Rebirth storyline sees him drastically re-written. It’s strange, but the only time I have come close to actually liking him was in his recent appearance in Deathstroke, which also included a portrayal of Batman that showed him being much more competent than he is in his own books.

Speaking of Deathstroke, I will likely pick up another issue or two before next week and I have finally– after years and years of procrastinating– started reading Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, which I am enjoying so far.

What titles have you been reading? Is there anything that is so good that I simply must pick it up? Anything that you would recommend avoiding like the plague? Let me know!

Craig

I love Lucifer. The TV Series, That Is….

I really wasn’t sure whether or not I would like Lucifer the tv series, but given that I love comics and generally try to give adaptations of comics into other media a try, I figured I may as well check it out.

Lucifer, as presented in this series, is based on the version that appeared in The Sandman, written by Neil Gaiman, and then later his own series, by Mike Carey. This incarnation of the devil is not so much evil incarnate as dissatisfied with his relationship with his “father.”

Played wonderfully by Tom Ellis, Lucifer is charming and charismatic, but for a being that has existed since the dawn of time, he is not terribly bright or self-aware. Tired of reigning in Hell and frustrated with the way humanity blames him for all their sins– he likes to point out that we make our own bad choices and he simply provides the punishment– he has abdicated Hell and come to Los Angeles to run a piano bar called Lux, accompanied by his guardian/ assistant, Mazikeen. It is here, following the murder of Delilah, a pop star whose career Lucifer helped launch, that Lucifer encounters police detective Chloe Decker (Lauren German).

The show quickly becomes a typical, old-fashioned cop/ buddy show with Lucifer constantly becoming involved with various police proceedings and using his supernatural ability to have people share their fantasies and deepest secrets in order to further investigations. While some of this stems from a seeming interest in understanding humans, it is primarily because Lucifer is entranced by Chloe, who is for some reason immune to his charms.

While I can’t say that Lucifer does anything terribly new or exciting (we’ve all seen this type of character dynamic several times over the years) I find myself totally enjoying each episode. Much of it is due to Ellis, who possesses a tremendous amount of charm and who manages to make the devil not only charming, but likeable. Yes, as mentioned above, he is a bit slow on the uptake, but he’s fun to watch.

The supernatural side of the story isn’t terribly evident in most of the episodes that I have watched so far, although there is the recurring presence of Amenadiel (D.B. Woodside), one of Heaven’s angels who wants to return Lucifer to Hell and is willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish this goal.

I’m still in the first season, streaming it on Crave TV, so it is entirely possible that the premise will wear thin before too long, but then again perhaps not. There have been several police procedurals over the years that managed to entertain for multiple seasons before going off the air, so Lucifer should be able to manage the same, especially if the show mixes up the action with the occasional “cosmic” story.

Genre TV often faces some difficulty, but Lucifer has been renewed for a full third season, despite protest from groups such as One Million Moms, who want to see the series dropped due to the “glorification of evil” that they believe it represents. How nice it would be if they could turn their attention to the evil that exists in the real world, instead of attacking television shows…

Personally, I hope it continues for another couple of seasons.

This Week’s Reads: March 8

This was a good week for comics. I enjoyed just about everything that I picked up. DC has been staying true to their word about bringing back the sense of legacy and history that has been missing in the New 52. While I am still finding a few titles to be a bit weak, overall I am enjoying the books I’m picking up.

This week, I picked up the following:

Superwoman #8

Lana Lang’s life hangs by a thread as the powers she received following the New 52’s Superman’s death continue to ravage her body and all the while the very universe seems to be changing around her, threatening to change everything she knows about herself and those she loves. By Jiminez and Herbert.

Justice League of America #2

Batman and his new Justice League continue their battle against Lord Havok and the Extremists while trying to come together as a team. By Orlando and Watanabe

Detective Comics # 952

The League of Assassins is in Gotham, but Shiva’s first order of business is to confront her daughter, Orphan. Outnumbered and out-matched, what can the bat-family do to halt Shiva’s scheme? By Tynion Iv and Duce.

Flash #18

The trail to Daniel West A.K.A. the Reverse Flash leads Barry and Wally to Belle Reve Penitentiary and an encounter with Amanda Waller. But where is the Reverse Flash? By Williamson and Merino.

Wonder Woman #18

Continuing the tale of Diana’s early days as Wonder Woman, Barbara Ann Minerva falls prey to the machinations of the twins Deimos and Phobos. By Rucka and Evely.

Titans #9

Bumblebee bursts on to the scene as the Titans confront the Fearsome Five and Meta Solutions. By Abnett and Booth.

Action Comics #975  **Pick of the Week**

This was my most-anticipated issue this week and the best single issue I have read since Rebirth began.

Continuing the Superman Reborn storyline, this issue finally reveals the identity of the impostor Clark Kent. Some new clues regarding Rebirth as a whole come out as Superman faces an unexpected foe from his past. Meanwhile, in the backup story, Superman’s foe deals with a captive Jonathan Kent and By Jergins and Mahnke, with the backup story by Dini and Churchill.

Spoilers follow

Action Comics was easily the best thing I have read this week, mostly due to the backup story. Any time they show Superman in his classic outfit, or reference the stories that I grew up with, I have to award them several points just for the nostalgia. When we get that plus and interesting tale, there’s really nothing better.

I really wouldn’t have ever imagined that the impostor Clark Kent could be Mister Mxyzptlk, but it actually makes a great deal of sense (although it does raise the question of whether Bat-Mite has also been imprisoned my the mysterious Mr Oz). Myx has the ability to completely derail Mr Oz’s plans due to both his power and unpredictability and thus had to be imprisoned in Mr Oz’s cell where he assumed Superman would eventually find and free him. Unfortunately for Mxyzptlk, Superman never came to his rescue and he had to escape by his own means, which left him with a great deal of anger toward his long-time foe.

Along with Superman and the original Wally West, Mister Mxyzptlk seems to be the only character to have come directly from the pre-New 52 universe. Given the extent of his abilities, I wonder how he would fare in a direct confrontation with Doctor Manahttan. Who knows, maybe we’ll find out.

DC has been living up to their promise to restore a sense legacy and history to their comics. While everything thus far has been enjoyable, it looks like the coming months will be even better.

This Week’s Reads: March 1st

This weeks seemed a bit slower than past weeks. I wound up picking up some more back-issues because I found myself with a little extra reading time. What would be even better would be finding myself with a little extra cash… I miss the days of 75 cent comics. At least I seem to be saving a little bit by reading them digitally.

What I picked up:

  • Aquaman #18
  • Batman #18
  • Justice League #16
  • Nightwing#16
  • Superman#18
  • Deathstroke #2 through 5

Spoilers Follow

Aquaman was an ok read. I feel that he is a bit of a difficult character to write. What is arguably the most interesting part of the character– his role in Atlantis– is also something that keeps him isolated from the rest of the DC universe. The only time that Atlantis seems to have much contact with the surface world is when they are at war, but that is not something that can be dragged out for an extended arc. As a result, I find that having Arthur dealing with supervillains on land tends to come across as a bit forced. I’m still going to follow this title, though. I just hope they can find some way to make things feel more natural.

Batman is a character that I love, but I find him… difficult… at the moment, because he almost seems to be a different person in each title. He is a member of the Justice League and in the Trinity books he seems to be forming the old pre-52 relationship that he had with Superman and Wonder Woman, yet in JLA he speaks about the regular League with what seems to be real disdain. In Detective, he is learning the value of opening up to the “bat family” and seems to be a pretty well-balanced character, but in the eponymous Batman book, he reminds me of nothing so much as Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns. As written by Tom King, Batman is not terribly likeable and comes across at times as mentally unwell. I did somewhat enjoy the symmetry shown in Batman and Bane’s childhoods, but I am not fond of this characterization of Batman.

Justice League continues the story of The Timeless and their quest to prevent the rise of super-powered beings on Earth. This story is actually quite interesting as it continues to build toward what appears to be some significant revelations about Rebirth as a whole. The art is somewhat uneven, with supporting characters looking better than the primary League members, but overall it is fairly decent. This book has gone from almost being dropped by me, to being one that I am looking forward to.

Nightwing was fun this week, if only for the interaction between Dick Grayson and Damian Wayne. I normally can’t stand Damian, but when paired with Dick, or with Jon Kent, he’s not too bad. I’m still not sold on Dick’s relationship with Shawn Tsang (he belongs with Barbara Gordon, dammit!), but I can accept it in the short term.  My little nitpick in this issue is the same as every time I see Damian (or Jon Kent, for that matter): they keep drawing him about 4′ tall. He’s much too tiny. He is 14 years old. My elder son is not even 14 yet and he is about 5’11” or even 6′. I know that Batman and Superman are tall, so it makes sense for the kids to look small in comparison, but they are often drawn at half the height of their fathers.

Superman kicked off the Superman Reborn storyline which promises to be interesting and to start unveiling the meta-plot of the entire Rebirth event. More importantly, this storyline will see Superman getting his red boots back. Thank goodness for that! The story itself focuses on the mysterious fake Clark Kent and a strange white flame that is seemingly erasing everything that is not a natural part of the New 52 universe, including a character that’s very important to Superman.

Pick of the Week

My pick this week likely would have been Superman had I not picked up a few more issues of Deathstroke. Once again, I am surprised at how much I am enjoying this title, considering I had never really been a fan before. The writing is very good and the story so far is quite engaging. As a bonus, two issues featuring Batman and Robin show Batman in a better light than his own titles do. In his guest appearance here, Batman is both more capable and more intelligent than he has seemed in Batman, Detective, Trinity or the Justice League titles. I wish he could be like this all the time. Incredibly, I even found myself not only not hating Robin, but actually almost liking him. That alone elevates the three issues I’ve read over everything else I picked up this week.

 

So, what is everyone else reading? I don’t know… no one has answered that question yet. Maybe this week someone will. 🙂

I’d love to hear some opinions on the various titles coming out each month, whether Marvel, DC or another publisher. I’d also enjoy hearing thoughts and theories relating to Rebirth.

Craig