I think it’s safe to say that of all of Marvel’s Netflix series, Iron Fist hasn’t quite turned out the way anyone was hoping. The shows have always unrolled into varying degrees of success – of the other series, Marvel’s Daredevil currently holds the lowest critical rating on Rotten Tomatoes with a still-impressive 87% – but Iron Fist, which is currently defending a piddly 16% on the same platform, has become the first big exception to the generally positive Marvel Netflix rule.
There are a lot of reasons why, of course. Our own Allison Keene points out its glacial pace and frankly boring take on the origin story. Some also cited even earlier problems in the source material, calling into question the necessity for an Iron Fist series at all.
But Finn Jones, the star of the show, has a different theory for why the show has faced scathing critical reception. When speaking to the Radio Times, Jones noted:
“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.
It’s perhaps an interesting concept: certainly there is increased awareness within the film, television and general pop culture sphere around white privilege and corporate greed in the wake of the Trump election (see: nearly every speech from our recent awards cycle). But how inadvertent are the similarities between Iron Fist‘s white and very rich central family and the Trumps?
We spoke to Jessica Stroup, Tom Pelphrey and David Wenham, the shiny-haired, sharply dressed and deeply motivated street-level antagonists known as the Meachum family about the apparent similarities, inadvertent or no.
Wenham, for his part, echoed the sentiments of Jones, indicating that there was no pre-planning, and any echoes are incidental, albeit “fascinating”.
We were filming it prior to what has happened, so I think the whole world is viewing a lot of things, at the moment, through that very prism, regardless of if there was any intent or not. However, I think it’s actually fascinating with the thematic concerns of this particular show to be watching through that particular prism at the moment.
But Stroup, whose Joy Meachum is easily one of the strongest character elements of the show as the first season unfolds, admits some intentional similarities, at least on an aesthetic level.
I know that there was definitely conversation about my character — not being influenced by or based on, but having a certain twinge of Ivanka [Trump]. Maybe even down to like the hairstyle. But there was no purposeful thing, I think if people want to see that, then they’re gonna see that.
Pelphrey kept largely mum, but did air a few styling grievances towards the hair and makeup team: “Yeah. I mean, for better or for worse, Ward’s rocking the fucking Don Jr.”
Jokes about some truly tragic hair aside, its pretty obvious that a different political climate certainly wouldn’t turn the less-than enthused critical reception around – but if anything, Iron Fist has become proof of that a cinematic standby has quickly become a newly terrifying breed of big bad: one that’s rich, callous and wearing a three-piece suit.