gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Default)
Some spoilers for Iron Fist lie ahead. Be warned.

So I've just binged the first few episodes of Iron Fist on Netflix. Despite the professional reviews dissing it, I'm having fun with the realization of one of my favorite characters from the strange pool of ideas that was Marvel in the 1970s. But that's not to say I don't have some issues.

For those not familiar with the character, Iron Fist is Danny Rand, a young man raised in the mystical city of K'un-L'un. The comics and the TV show differ on how young Danny gets there, but the end result is the same: dead parents and years of training in the martial arts. As Iron Fist, Danny is able to channel his chi into one fist, making it "unto a thing like iron."

Danny returns to New York, where he eventually teams up with Luke Cage in Heroes for Hire, Inc., and later the Defenders. He is very much a street-level hero, better suited for fighting more mundane threats as opposed to the Avengers, who can take on huge threats.

My issues with the series start with them keeping the "scion of a billionaire family who returns from the Mysterious East with amazing abilities" trope. Seriously, this is the biggest cliche in comics. It's the regular attempt to recreate Batman in a different suit. Even on television, we currently have Green Arrow having the exact same background. Chang it up!

Then we have the fact that some of the Netflix shows have a terrible sense of story pacing. Danny arrives in New York shoeless and shaggy. He sleeps in a park while trying to prove that he is in fact this kid who was reported dead 15 years ago. Regaining who he is could have been the first season. It would have given us a longer arc of him becoming a hero for the homeless and ignored. It would have established who Daniel Rand is in our minds, this man who has the values of a mystic warrior monk.

Instead, by the 4th episode, he's already in the corner office with 51% control of his family business. Too quick! I hate that nobody wants to do a striptease with the plot reveals anymore. It took Babylon 5 two full seasons to fully reveal the threat!

I do like that the writers did play a bit with the idea that maybe this "Danny Rand" was crazy, but let's be honest. This is New York City a few years after the start of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Harlem has been devastated by the Hulk and Abomination, A major tech fair was attacked by flying drones and defeated by Iron Man and War Machine, and an entire alien army led by a Norse God beat the shit out of lower Manhattan! It is publicly accepted that a WWII hero was frozen in ice for 70 years and that one of mankind's greatest defenders is another Norse God!

You would think that mental health professionals at this point would be slightly more accepting of the possibility that the young man in front of them did in fact spend 15 years in a mystic monastery.

But the one thing that has a lot of people talking is the fact that Danny Rand is a white guy. A white guy who uses Chinese martial arts and speaks fluent Mandarin. There have been cries of whitewashing and cultural appropriation leveled at the series. Some have questioned who do this series at all?

First of all, you can't whitewash a character who was originally conceived, written and drawn as a blond white dude. The characters' who point is the place he was trained only opens to the outside world every fifteen years, and was brought in to save his life. Is the idea that this master of the arts and the power of Iron Fist a white guy racist? Possibly. But remember that at the same time Marvel was also riding the martial arts craze with Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu, a Chinese character. This was also the birth of Luke Cage, Power Man among other more diverse characters. Marvel was trying to be better about race and gender representation in their books.

Cultural appropriation? Where? Again, from the age of about 9 or 10 to 25 Daniel Rand lived in this mystical place. It was his culture! He had no choice, he didn't decide to watch his parents die and become a monk. Ridiculous charge.

Lastly, as I mentioned above, Marvel is planning a Defenders series for Netflix in the future. As many of the comic-book Defenders (and there have been many line-ups and versions of the team) are either tied up in legal problems or wouldn't fit with the lower-budget Netflix projects, it was decided to reunite Iron Fist with Luke Cage for the series. Perfectly reasonable. It took us half a dozen feature films to get to the Avengers, after all.

I'm liking Iron Fist. I just hope the rest of the season is paced better, but I was spoiled by how well Luke Cage was produced.
gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Default)
Ah, the holidays, that wonderful time of the year (which now seems to stretch from late October through to Groundhog Day) when families gather, turkeys and trees are massacred, and television schedules go to hell.

I'll freely admit that I'm a man who likes my routines. Sort of comes with everything I've been through. And those ruts include my TV viewing schedules. So with the advent of "mid-season finales" I've been a bit put out. Luckily, [personal profile] kshandra got herself a Roku box. Now that I've learned to use the damn thing, we've been binge-watching. I caught up with Daredevil months ago, so he's not being discussed.

So, what have we been watching?


  • Luke Cage One of the oddest complaints I've ever seen is that this show is "too black." That's what I like about it! Luke Cage, his allies, and his enemies are all part of Harlem's unique African-American culture and history. The creators embrace that, making a hero and plot that could not work with a white hero. Great depth of character all around.

  • The Expanse I started watching the first season on SciFi, but quickly lost the thread. Having now read the first five books, I can better follow the action. Very pretty, but not quite what my mind's eye had drawn. Still very good. One problem, Chrisjen doesn't swear nearly enough.

  • Muhteşem Yüzyıl (The Magnificent Century) A Turkish show about the reign of Süleyman the Magnificent and his harem slave-turned-wife the Hürrem Sultan. Seeing as we've visited Topkapi Palace where much of the action happens, and seen the tombs of both these people, how could we not watch? We've fallen behind because discovered . . .

  • House of Cards Yeah, I know, late to the game. But dear gods, Kevin Spacey has cemented himself as my favorite actor. Frank and Claire as such utter sociopaths, but you cheer for them! We've just reached S3, as President Underwood has just taken office.



Still on tap is The Grand Tour, the post-Top Gear show made for Clarkeson, May, and Hammond. Also need to figure out if our Amazon Prime account unlocks Game of Thrones.

So, what are all y'all watching?
gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Fail Black)
OK, so the Fox Network is remaking the Rocky Horror Picture Show for broadcast. Why I don't give a flying piece of toast.

First Red Doritos: Hearken back to when the RHPS was just getting rolling. No one really knew any LGBT people. The closest most came was watching Billy Crystal on "Soap." Same goes for transvestism. So a movie with a bisexual, cross-dressing alien as a lead was edgy. On screen implied sex was edgy. Hell, implied cannibalism was edgy. Today? LGBT people are out and open members of society. And the cannibalism dinner scene? You can find much worse on YouTube.

Second Red Doritos: We were much closer to the source material. The "late night, double-feature, picture show", whether at your local theater or on a local station after regular programming, instructed us in the tropes that the RHPS played with. The two kids with a flat, the mysterious house, creepy butlers, mad scientists, and created monsters. Seeing the RHPS was like a best-of reel from great B-horror flicks of the 50s through the 60s.

Third Red Doritos: It was a social event where we broke rules. When you go to see a movie, you're supposed to sit quietly and enjoy. Not at Rocky! We danced, shouted call back lines, used props, and in most places there was a shadow cast, either ad hoc or a dedicated team acting out the film in front of the screen. You went to the RHPS to have fun with other people. Running around a theater in your underwear screaming obscenities at the screen then going to Denny's and eating fries with Ranch. Watching any production at home alone loses the point. Rocky was something out of the ordinary.

Finally, it was as close to a mystery cult as we could get. There was a fraternity among Rocky fans. The jocks and stoners went to see Song Remains the Same or Wizards, the Metal Dudes lined up for Heavy Metal (once it hit the midnight circuit), and the Art Nerds went to see whatever was playing at the Los Gatos Cinema. But Rocky fans showed up week after week. We'd see each other at school and give the briefest of nods, as our membership in the cult crossed caste lines. It meant something, damnit (Janet, I love you!).

I did Rocky Horror for well over a decade, Friday and Saturday nights for long stretches. Keep this pointless remake.

Because on our world, we'll do the TIME WARP AGAIN!!!

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