How ‘Iron Fist’ Will Differ from Fellow Marvel/Netflix Shows and the Comics
For the last three years, Marvel TV and Netflix have been bringing their Marvel Universe shows to New York Comic-Con to huge acclaim. After all, most of their shows so far have been set and are filmed in New York City, so they’re always playing to a hometown crowd of Marvel fans.
Two years ago it was Daredevil, last year it was Jessica Jones, and this year, it’s all about Iron Fist, their third series leading up to next year’s The Defenders.
Collider got a chance for a few brief words with Marvel Television’s Executive Vice President Jeff Loeb, Iron Fist show runner Scott Buck, actor Finn Jones, who plays Danny Rand/Iron Fist, and the three actors playing the Meachums: David Wenham, Tom Pelphrey and Jessica Stroup.
Jeff Loeb & Scott Buck
If you’re a fan of Marvel Television’s shows (or comics in general) then Jeff Loeb needs no introduction, but Scott Buck is coming to Iron Fist from the world of Showtime’s Dexter and HBO’s Six Feet Under before that.
Collider: How is Iron First going to be different from previous Netflix shows?
JEFF LOEB: First of all, it was always our intent when we set out to tell each of the Netflix stories that they’re part of a piece, but at the same token, you should be able to watch each of them individually. Daredevil is not like Jessica Jones, which is not like Luke, which should not be like Danny. The first part is very exciting to us, and the second part, which is rather obvious, which is because we’re dealing with a character who is younger than the rest of the cast, and who also has a certain kind of optimism and hope about him that brings a certain thing to it. Don’t make any mistake about it, this is Marvel’s foray into martial arts films, and when he opens up a can of whoop-ass, people are going to be super-super excited by what’s happening.”
SCOTT BUCK: Even if the comic books were the source of inspiration, our show is very grounded, it’s character driven, so we’re not following the comic books to that extent, but it just served as a starting-off point for us.
JEFF LOEB: “We began from a very, very real world place which is that when Danny was ten years old, he disappears and the world believes that he’s dead, and so when he turns up at the very beginning of the show at the age of 25 and says, ‘Hi, I’m Danny Rand, billionaire,’ the rest of the world goes, ‘Maybe not so much.’ A lot of it is about a journey of finding self, not just in terms of who his character is, but in terms of what he wants to be as far as ‘Who is Danny Rand? What is the Iron Fist?’ and then, ‘How do these things get together?”
You had the benefits of introducing Luke in Jessica’s show but you didn’t take the opportunity to introduce Danny in the Luke Cage show, although there were a couple hints. With this story you’re creating, is the beginning where he shows up and the end… the Defenders?
JEFF LOEB: Wouldn’t it be great if you watched the show and found out? That would be awesome! The show is the journey of that character and a lot of what will be answered after you see that, and then obviously, in The Defenders.
Finn Jones (Daniel Rand/Iron Fist) & Jessica Stroup (Joy Meachum)
After playing Loras Tyrell on a couple episodes of HBO’s Game of Thrones, Finn Jones is taking on the coveted role of Iron Fist, one of Marvel’s popular martial arts characters from the ‘70s who doesn’t have too much previous baggage from other actors playing him. Stroup from The Following and 90210 plays Joy Meachum, daughter to David Wenham’s Harold Beachum, who took over Daniel Rand’s father’s company after he disappeared.
Collider: You two are in a good position because they’ve already done other Marvel shows on Netflix, and they know how to do make them work, but Iron Fist is a completely different kind of character, and the comics are different, too. What was your in into this world and trying to figure out how to play Danny and Iron Fist?
FINN JONES: Well, I just keep the characters rooted in real as possible. I imagine that the character was orphaned when he was ten years old, he lost his parents, he’s been living in a monastery under harsh conditions for the last 15 years. I just put that reality to me, and if someone went through this, how would he be? What kind of man would he be?’ And just really kind of rooted it in reality and just played the truth of the character and the circumstance in which he finds himself.
JESSICA STROUP: You know what I really loved? I think it was Episode 2, the idea that in this Marvel Universe. If you’re standing on the street, and if you do some sort of crazy backflip over a taxi, right? It’s not every day you see that, right? And you can play that that is not something you see e=very day. You are living in a world where you’re used to seeing all these superheroes. It’s their way of keeping things grounded.
JONES: Yeah, everything has consequence, you know? It’s important to remember that I may have a fist that lights up and I can punch people really hard, but what are the consequences of having that power? What are the consequences of coming back and not knowing who you are and seeing your childhood best friend for the first time and not being able to connect to her, because she’s a completely different person. What are the consequences of that? What is the reality of that? Just kind of asking questions and keeping it real, as all the other shows do.
Obviously, they have great writers and great scripts but does Marvel give you some comics to read? There isn’t a ton of definitive Iron Fist stories but there are specific periods in the comics.
JONES: When I got cast, the first thing they did was they gave me a Marvel pass, like an unlimited Marvel pass to the entire Marvel Universe.
STROUP: I didn’t get that! What?
JONES: Oh, well. It sucks if you’re not the Iron Fist! It was very overwhelming, because there’s a lot of stuff, but to be honest, the way I see it is that the show takes inspiration from all of the comics, but it’s a stand-alone thing, so I haven’t focused too much on the comic books. I’ve referenced them and got an idea of the world, but really, I’m treating the show as the show and my version and Scott Buck’s version of Danny Rand as this version. I’m not trying to be any Iron Fist that’s been before. I am my own Iron Fist.
STROUP: I immediately went and searched for Joy Meachum? Where is she? Where is Joy? Her look? She’s blonde. Oh, she’s cute, okay. Is she good, is she bad? Very little of Joy… but not on the TV show, there’s more Joy. Watch out!
Have you spent a lot of time with Mike Colter yet to try to build that chemistry?
JONES: Not met him yet. I’m looking forward to that.
Maybe you’ll meet him for the first time at today’s panel later.
JONES: Not that I’ve heard, but it would be cool if he was.
A lot of people are looking forward to that meeting
JONES: Yeah, and it will be great. It’s going to be fun, when it happens, if it happens, who knows? Questions for another day.
David Wenham (Harold Meachum) & Tom Pelphrey (Ward Meachum)
Australian actor David Wenham has his fair share of Comic-Con cred, having starred in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Zack Snyder’s 300 and playing Van Helsing in the 2004 The Wolf Man. Tom Pelphrey, playing his son Ward, comes from the Cinemax show Banshee.
Collider: I’m very familiar with the Iron Fist comic books from when I was a kid, so I know that Harold Meachum plays a large part in the origin of Iron Fist. I don’t really know the character of Ward as much, so can you talk about how your characters are different from the comics?
DAVID WENHAM: Well, I think not just the characters, but also the narrative within the show, it’s certainly been influenced and based very heavily on the comic books, but both Scott Buck, the showrunner, and Jeph Loeb, “Mr. Marvel,” has taken all those meaty basics, but also then infused it with their contemporary imagination and then taken it into different areas as well, which I think is very exciting. So there’s a mix of both—a mix of stuff that you will recognize and a mix of stuff that will be new and different and hopefully very palatable and fantastic and exciting.
You play Ward Beachum and I assume you’re his son?
TOM PELPHREY: That’s right, yup.
You do look a little alike so I can see that, a little.
WENHAM: He didn’t get the looks, but anyway, it doesn’t matter, son. My daughter did!
Where does Ward come into this? I assume you were pretty young when Danny was lost as well, so what’s your relationship like with Danny?
PELPHEY: Right, Right. Well, we find Ward as a young man who is helping to run Rand Enterprises, which is kind of an interesting thing in itself to be that young, and to be so high up in the company that ultimately wasn’t built by you at all, that you’ve sort of inherited.
WENHAM: Yeah, remember that.
PELPHEY: Remember what your Daddy gave you. So right off the bat, we have an interesting dynamic or an interesting thing to explore about what that would mean to someone who didn’t necessarily want to be there. I don’t know how much I can say, but it’s good stuff. It’s good dynamics and believable motivations and played strong.
I imagine both of you are in the entire season? Beachum was sort of in the Iron First origin but not much since then.
WENHAM: Well, we will see.
PELPHEY: Have to tune in and find out.
Iron Fist will stream on Netflix starting on March 17, 2017. Look for our coverage of the New York Comic-Con panel very soon.