Saturday, November 7, 2015

Rumor Has It: Iron Fist and Netflix

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This Rumor Has It article is a continuation of “The Adventures of the Iron Fist Development.”  Before getting down to the rumor itself, however, let’s take a look at how we got to this point.

It all started in 2013 when Marvel announced a deal with Netflix which would see the two companies partnering to produce four individual character-based TV series of 13 episodes each, leading up to a team-up miniseries called The Defenders which would star those four heroes.  The announced heroes for the four series were Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist.  Daredevil entered production in 2014 and was released on Netflix this past April.  It was such a success that it was immediately renewed for a second season, with Jessica Jones set to be released later this month (November 20) and Daredevil season 2 and Luke Cage set to be released sometime in 2016 (potentially the first half of the year).

This all sounds great… until you realize that something—or someone—is missing.  Where’s the news on Iron Fist?  No actor has been cast to play him and so far every potential showrunner has been rejected.  In fact, over the last few weeks/months reports have been coming out suggesting that Marvel doesn’t exactly know what to do with Iron Fist because they are afraid that he’s too fantastical to fit into the dark and gritty universe they have established with Daredevil and are continuing with Jessica Jones.  A couple weeks back, there was even a rumor that Marvel Netflix was planning to straight-up swap out Iron Fist for Punisher since they already have an actor for Frank Castle in Jon Bernthal and already have some ideas of where a Punisher series would go.  Potentially, this would also include the Punisher taking Iron Fist’s place in The Defenders.

So with that background established, let’s get down to the rumor.

This rumor, reported by Peel the Orange last Saturday, states that Marvel Netflix is indeed going to go through with the rumored replacement of Iron Fist with The Punisher as a series, but that they are not ditching the character all together.  Instead, they are going to produce a Netflix original movie based on Iron Fist.

So what do I think of this rumor?  Simply put, I think it’s the rumor I’d be most happy to see come to fruition since the reports started coming out of Iron Fist being in trouble.  However, there is still one aspect with which I’m not terribly thrilled.

Here’s how I can see this playing out:

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How a Movie Might Work

Right off the bat, let’s just start off by establishing that calling it a movie instead of a series doesn’t change a whole lot, considering that Daredevil (and probably all the Marvel Netflix series) are structured more like movies than traditional TV series, anyways.  Daredevil had more villains and subplots than a movie would, but nowhere near as many of either as a series like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  So switching Iron Fist from a series to a movie would just mean a shorter runtime (2-3 hours instead of 13) and less character development and subplots.  Also, you won’t need to hit the button to proceed to the next one every hour, so I guess that’s a plus.

Assuming that Marvel and Netflix do indeed turn the potential Netflix series into a Netflix movie, I would expect the budget for the project to be in line with that of the other Netflix series, though perhaps reduced slightly.  Regardless, I expect the budget for the series to be well more than the budget for 2+ episodes of a TV series.  Why?  Because Iron Fist is going to have a substantial effects budget.

My hope would be for this Netflix movie to be Danny Rand’s origin story, detailing his family, his training in K’un-L’un, and how he received the title of “Iron Fist.”  The ending of the movie would set up his next appearance within the Defenders corner of the MCU.  But we’ll get there.

If Marvel decides to make Iron Fist into a movie, it will give them a definite opportunity to really flesh out K’un-L’un in the special effects department, something which would go a long way toward giving the character credibility.  Likewise, a movie effects budget could also do Shou-Lao the Undying (the dragon whose heart Danny touches to become the Iron Fist—aren’t comics fun?) justice.

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My pitch for an Iron Fist movie on Netflix would start with the Rand family’s trip to K’un-L’un and the deaths of Danny’s parents due to the treachery of his father’s business partner, Harold Meachem, who caused his father’s death and abandoned him and his mother.  Danny is taken to K’un-L’un and apprenticed to Lei Kung.  Cut ahead about 9 years, and 18-19-year-old Danny is preparing to face Shou-Lao.  This is the major conflict in the first third of the movie, as Danny fights and defeats Shou-Lao, afterwards entering his cave and plunging his hands into the dragon’s molten heart.  Upon leaving the cave Danny displays his Iron Fist powers.  Cut ahead slightly and Danny is leaving K’un-L’un to reenter the world.

Danny returns to New York City and confronts Meachem, but elects to have mercy on him because he lost his legs to frostbite after betraying Danny’s parents.  However, Meachem is later assassinated and Danny is accused of the crime.  He looks for a lawyer and finds Nelson and Murdock, but they can’t help him.  However, Daredevil succeeds in finding out where the man who killed Meachem is, and Danny confronts him.  The assassin is Scimitar, a sword-wielding ninja working for Master Khan (and let’s just say that Master Khan was another of Danny’s masters in K’un-L’un to he can get more development earlier in the movie).  Danny fights and defeats Scimitar before taking on Khan, who easily defeats him.  However, during the battle Danny goads Khan into revealing that he was responsible for Scimitar assassinating Meachem and framing Danny because he opposed Danny’s selection as the next Iron Fist.  After Khan leaves, Daredevil steps out of the shadow, holds out a voice recorder, and tells Danny that he’ll see to it that the confession gets to Danny’s lawyer.  “I’m sure you will, Murdock”—Danny can feel people’s chi, and realized that Matt and Daredevil have the same chi energy.

The movie ends with Danny cleared of all wrongdoing and assuming control of Rand-Meachem Inc., in which position he places Nelson and Murdock on retainer as one of the company’s law firms.  That night, Danny (as the Iron Fist) joins Matt (as Daredevil) in going out to fight crime in Hell’s Kitchen, attempting to track down Master Khan.

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This is the part of the rumor where I kind of have an issue.  I don’t think that Iron Fist needs to be removed from the Defenders roster.  His abilities (specifically the Iron Fist itself) require very little in the way of special effects, so any concerns with the effects budget can be greatly minimized by a very judicious use of Iron Fist’s abilities.  Despite the mystical nature of his abilities, he himself is a much more of a street-level hero than an Avengers-level hero, so he fits in better with the Defenders than the Avengers.  Additionally, the Heroes for Hire team looks to be coming soon enough, with Luke Cage and Misty Knight (Danny’s love interest, baby mama, and wife) both appearing in Luke Cage and Iron Fist himself following.  Finally, Danny serves as the Tony Stark of the Defenders:  he can afford to bankroll everything they need because his family is independently wealthy.

In contrast, the Punisher is much more of a lone wolf than a team player.  I definitely think that whatever threat brings together the Defenders will also bring Punisher in, but I would expect his involvement to be somewhat minimal.  At the end of the day, Punisher may be a reserve member of the team, but Iron Fist will be a full-time member.

So I would want Iron Fist’s next appearance to be in The Defenders, and that after that he would join the regular cast of Luke Cage, which could then be renamed Heroes for Hire for at least one season.


As I said before, I think this is the rumor I could fall behind the most as far as Iron Fist is concerned.  I think that his origin story could be turned into a very cohesive and unique movie, and that a movie budget would be an excellent way for Marvel Netflix to both do justice to the fantastical elements of Danny’s origin and of K’un-L’un and go all-out in showing some of Danny’s abilities.  I do not think that he should just be given Netflix movies going forward, however, because I think that series appearances in The Defenders and Luke Cage/Heroes for Hire could be done very well without breaking the effects budget, provided that they are judicious in their use of Danny’s powers.  I also really think that Iron Fist needs to become a member of the Defenders.

Of course, as of now this is just a rumor; for all we know Marvel will announce an actor and showrunner for Iron Fist next week!  Either way, I really want to see this character join the Marvel Netflix universe.

How do you want Iron Fist to appear in the MCU?  Would you like to see Marvel and Netflix partner for original movies in addition to the TV series?  Let me know in the comments!

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