Iron Fist, Netflix’s latest Marvel series, debuts this week (March 17) and fans are excited about seeing a new superhero making the jump from the comic book page to the screen. However, critics haven’t been kind to the show based on the six episodes many have previewed.

On Rotten Tomatoes, Iron Fist currently has a 12 percent rating, which is rotten indeed. UPROXX’s Alan Sepinwall wrote “It’s easily the worst of the Netflix Marvel shows.” Vulture’s Abraham Reisman called it “disappointingly rote.” Entertainment Weekly graded the show a D, with Jeff Jensen writing that it “slaps itself silly with a weirdly flaccid hand,” which sounds bad. Even Comic Book Resources, which would be presumably kinder to a comic book adaptation, said Iron Fist “doesn’t feel in the same league” as Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage.

Critics have also singled out star Finn Jones for a “bland” performance, with little of the charisma that the leads of the other three Marvel Netflix shows brought to the story and unconvincing fighting prowess in portraying a character who’s supposed to be a martial arts master. As the star of the series, Jones has been doing a fair bit of promotion leading up to Iron Fist‘s March 17 release. With the negative reviews increasing, the actor is defending the show and his performance. (He certainly isn’t taking the Sad Ben Affleck approach.)

Jones’ first line of attack? The critics just don’t get this show, man. Here’s what he said to Metro UK (via The A.V. Club):

“Well I think there’s multiple factors. What I will say is these shows are not made for critics, they are first and foremost made for the fans.

“I also think some of the reviews we saw were seeing the show through a very specific lens, and I think when the fans of the Marvel Netflix world and fans of the comic books view the show through the lens of just wanting to enjoy a superhero show, then they will really enjoy what they see.”

Jones’ other superhero identity may be Captain Obvious. Of course these shows aren’t made for critics. They’re based on comic books to create mainstream, escapist, power fantasy entertainment. But if it’s done well, critics will praise the effort.

Logan is currently in theaters and drew a 92 percent rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes. Maybe that was made with a nod toward critics in trying to portray a darker take on a popular superhero. But it also had the fans in mind, influenced by a popular comic book storyline (“Old Man Logan”) and showing a version of Wolverine that has always appealed to hardcore devotees.

Critics have also had little to do with the primary problem people have with Iron Fist: the main character is a white martial artist who trained in Tibet and surpassed his Asian masters in becoming “the ultimate weapon.” Even though a white Daniel Rand is faithful to the comics, there’s nothing inherent about the character that says he has to be white. Given the lack of ethnicity and color throughout the Marvel (and DC) Cinematic Universe, this seemed like an ideal opportunity to cast an Asian-American actor as Iron Fist. Jones got into a Twitter debate with Geeks of Color’s Asyiqin Haron recently over that very subject, some of which can be seen above.

(Personally, as an Asian-American, casting a white actor didn’t outrage me. But it would have been fun to see a more progressive choice, especially once all of the Marvel Netflix shows combine for a team-up in The Defenders. I’d rather see one of Marvel’s Asian characters — like Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu — get his own show or a part in one of these series.)

But Jones’ latest rationalization of why Iron Fist isn’t connecting with critics and audiences might be the most misguided. In his view, people aren’t responding positively to Daniel Rand because he’s a white billionaire like Donald Trump. Here’s what he said in an interview with Radio Times:

“I think the world has changed a lot since we were filming that television show,” he said. “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.

“We filmed the show way before Trump’s election, and I think it’s very interesting to see how that perception, now that Trump’s in power, how it makes it very difficult to root for someone coming from white privilege, when that archetype is public enemy number one.”

OK, yes — the world has changed since Trump was elected. No one is going to argue with that. But the idea that people don’t like Daniel Rand or the Iron Fist series because the superhero is a white billionaire is absurd. (Never mind that people were railing about the casting long before the presidential election, and even before Jones got the role more than a year ago.)

Jones apparently hasn’t heard of Batman or Iron Man. Are Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark less popular since Trump was elected last November? Since he was sworn in on Jan. 20? How about another superhero TV show like Arrow, which also features a wealthy white hero in Oliver Queen? (All right, Queen lost his fortune at one point during the series.) Plenty of superheroes have been people of privilege. It’s an easy way to explain how they can afford those vehicles and gadgets without having a job.

Daniel Rand may have an iron fist when he focuses his chi, but the guy playing him has a thin skin. Sure, he wants his show to succeed. And these negative reviews will kill some buzz. But fans are still going to watch, and the Marvel brand goes a long way with casual viewers. If people don’t like Iron Fist, it’ll be because it’s not a good show. That’s what critics are responding to right now: a lame lead character and disappointing fight scenes. Perhaps Jones will realize that when he mediates like the superhero he plays.

[The A.V. Club]

About Ian Casselberry

Ian is a writer, editor, and podcaster. You can find his work at Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He's written for Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, MLive, Bleacher Report, and SB Nation.

1 thought on “Iron Fist’s Finn Jones thinks bad reviews come from disliking white billionaires like Trump

  1. People are outraged over lack of diversity in the Marvel universe?! Give me a break! It’s adapted right out of the comic book… There would be greater outrage if it was purposefully cast with a different ethnicity just to be PC.

    This isn’t something that is even worthy of “outrage. ” There are MUCH bigger, more significant problems around the world than choosing a white guy to play a white comic book character!

    Grow up everyone and chill out…

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