Just Another White Saviour
Season Grade: D-
I must admit, I got caught up in the casting controversy of Finn Jones for Iron Fist. I’m a strong supporter of diversity in our media and Jones casting felt like a step backwards. Yet despite this, I gave Iron Fist a chance. Perhaps it would prove me wrong. Unfortunately it did not. It wasn’t just that I saw it as borderline cultural appropriation, it was also just bad; like really bad.
Right from the first episode, Iron Fist failed to grip me and i believe much of this rests on the shoulder of the incredibly unrealistic and clunky dialogue but also Jones performance. Jones attempts to portray Danny Rand as goofily earnest, yet he inevitably fails and instead comes across as both incredibly bland and stupid. I could have forgave just a few moments of blandness yet the perpetual blankness in Jones expression continued throughout the show and only faded away to a state of cluelessness occasionally. It made Danny Rand and incredibly difficult character to get behind particularly when he had essentially no character development and when he did it was completely nonsensical.
This is where we come to the writing team and their incredibly basic approach to both the plot and the characters. It takes several episodes before majority of the characters begin to be fleshed out to an appropriate degree and it doesn’t allow for us understand the choices the characters are making; everyone is behaving ridiculously. As far as plot goes the show focuses heavily on the day to day board room activities of Rand industries, all of which doesn’t really impact on the plot whatsoever and is also, incredibly dull. It takes several episodes for the plot to move forward and once it does I found myself asking; what’s the point?
Which is where I return to the casting controversy. It stems from the idea that a show focusing heavily on martial arts and Asian culture deserves to have a lead of Asian heritage. While I not only agree with this standpoint I believe that the show could’ve been improved significantly with an Asian-American lead. Much of Iron Fist fails due to a lack of purpose, it’s simply a retelling of the White Saviour trope that has been repeated over and over again throughout the past few decades. Yet an Asian-American lead can be mined for a much richer thematic story. The show then can become about the isolation 2nd generation Asian immigrants feel; too Asian for America, too American for Asia.
A much better version of the show with cultural significance and purpose could’ve been made yet instead we have only received a bland white story with no purpose. Hopefully future storytellers take note when it comes to future adaptations.