Review of Iron Fist (Netflix series)

“You are the worst Iron Fist ever.” — Davos

I had originally meant to do a “Mr. Zeus” installment this week. But, I decided I’d better do this review while the show is still relatively fresh in my mind. Some of my comments may be briefer or less systematic than usual. We shall see…

For the most part, I’m going to ignore the many missing or changed details in this version of Danny’s becoming an orphan, the Rand connection to K’un-Lun, the introduction of Colleen Wing, etc., from the comics version. Unfortunately, the bulk of my comments will still probably be negative, so allow me to start with something positive: I liked the opening credits. The music was good, with a sort of Asian/mystical feel to the electronica vibe. The dark-ish mood and swirling, inky effect with the semi-slo-mo kung fu guy worked for me. I don’t know if that guy was real or totally CGI, but he looked like a good fit for Danny/Iron Fist.

Speaking of which, as you might guess from my earlier fan-casting for the title character, I thought Finn Jones was all wrong. True, the studio didn’t cave in to demands to make the character Asian. Jones is also the right age, height, and has blonde hair. But, Iron Fist should’ve been more muscular and athletic looking, and his hair should’ve been cut shorter and straight. (And get rid of the beard, too.) As for the portrayal of Danny, I don’t know whether to blame Jones, the writers, or the directors — probably a bit of all of them.

SPOILER! SPOILER! SPOILER! SPOILER! SPOILER! SPOILER! SPOILER! SPOILER!

Finn Jones as Danny Rand

Danny’s seeming naivete and other mannerisms were annoying, as were his fits of anger and going off half-cocked at the end. He acted like a child. And what were those “episodes” toward the end, when he’d grab his head and his vision got blurry (or, at least, ours did)? Sometimes, he had a memory flash from the plane crash or K’un-Lun. What was that about?

We never really got satisfying answers either for Danny’s abandoning of K’un-Lun or even for Colleen’s going against her own principles when she did the cage matches. In fact, motivations in general were a weak point.

Danny’s fighting skills were, shall we say, rather underwhelming. Dull. Poorly choreographed and/or poorly edited. If it wasn’t clear before, the last couple episodes confirmed that he had a *lot* more training to do. But, imo, he should never have received the powers and responsibilities of the Iron Fist (w/ tattoo) at his current skill level. He should have been even better than Daredevil, but at this point, I think DD would put him down easily.

He says that he spent years training in martial arts, which includes controlled breathing *and* controlling his emotions. A minute later, he’s freaking out over air turbulence, and Claire has to calm him and get him to focus. What?! Same goes for his anger issues.

If (like he told Ward) the only time he drove a car was as a 10yo on his dad’s lap, how is Danny driving around NYC on his own a couple days later? For that matter, if he’s been stuck in extradimensional K’un-Lun for 15 years, why does he seem so unfazed by — even familiar with — NYC? A few familiar buildings and landmarks, sure. But, I’d like to have seen more fish-out-of-water behavior.

Casting for Colleen was good. Jessica Henwick is certainly an attractive woman of mixed Asian & Anglo ethnicity with martial arts skills. In fact, she was much more impressive in that area than Danny was. (She showed what she could really do, even without the sword, in those cage matches!) On the other hand, she’s too short and her hair is supposed to be medium brown to auburn. Still, she was a bright spot in an otherwise disappointing series. (I’ll even forgive the fact that Danny’s supposed to have a romantic relationship with Misty Knight, not Colleen. That is, if they wanted to stay faithful to the source material. In the Marvel-Netflix world, though, Colleen is a better match for him.) Claire (Rosario Dawson) was another one. It was nice to see her involved and continuing to connect the various series together. Jeri Hogarth (Carrie-Ann Moss) makes a couple of welcomed appearances, as well.

Not sure about the Meachums, as I don’t remember that much about them from the comics. I will say, though, that that is one supremely dysfunctional family! I despised the manipulative Harold (David Wenham), who treated his son like $#!+ — and that was even before the, er, violent physical exchanges. Of course, he was supposed to be a total jerk, so… well done! I thought I was gonna really hate Ward (Tom Pelphrey), too, but I ended up just pitying him. I wanted to like Joy (Jessica Stroup) more, and she had her moments, but she ended up disappointing me, too. (Especially the final scene.)

What to make of Madame Gao (Wai Ching Ho)? She is formidable, but inconsistently so. One day, she exhibits the ability — presumably through focused chi or some such thing — to “knock” someone several feet when she is standing several more feet away from them. (Think telekinetic “shove”.) A day or two later, though, she’s all scared when Danny charges her and she doesn’t even try to defend herself. What’s up with that? Was the latter behavior merely an act in order to give her more opportunities to get in the heads of our heroes?

I question the wisdom of using The Hand again as the “big bad”, especially since we know they will show up in “The Defenders” and/or season 3 of “Daredevil”. Surely, the writers could have found another evil organization to use from Marvel’s stable or even created a new one. Even though there was the interesting twist toward the end with the competing factions, I feel like The Hand was underutilized except as another connecting thread with the other shows. Their fighters weren’t very impressive, either, and they’re supposed to be among the deadliest in the world.

I hesitate to delve into the various other issues with the plot. Instead, I point you to this excellent review by Mike Floorwalker at Looper, which I fortunately read as I was finishing this up. He briefly discusses plot holes, inconsistencies, plodding development, lack of humor, “shoehorned-in moral conflict”, et al. In my opinion, most of his observations are right on the mark.

A few quick, final comments…

o Interesting casting for Davos (Sacha Dhawan) and Bakuto (Ramon Rodriguez). I wouldn’t have gone that way, but I suppose they did adequate jobs. Physically not very impressive, though. No clue why Davos, who I always thought was East Asian in appearance, is played by someone of Indian descent with a Manchester accent, either.

o There was not enough of K’un-Lun, and I think there should have been flashbacks of Danny training with Davos (since they changed the Davos character and made him Danny’s peer) and under the instruction of Lei-Kung the Thunderer.

o The “iron fist” F/X was decent, I suppose.

As usual, I really wanted to like this character/series, especially with its connection to the other Netflix series. It could have been spectacular. Unfortunately, it fell *well* short of its potential. I got the feeling that the series’ creative minds might have known the basics about Danny Rand / Iron Fist — they had some facts about his history, abilities, etc. — but they didn’t really understand the character.

If I were to grade the four series, I’d give “Daredevil” an A-, “Jessica Jones” a B-, “Luke Cage” a B or B+, and “Iron Fist” a C- (and that might be a bit generous). I haven’t read a lot of other reviews, but from what I have heard/seen, the general consensus agrees with me. I just hope that the creators learned something from the criticism and make some positive changes for “Defenders” (though that has already filmed) and any future Danny Rand / Iron Fist appearances.

P.S.  We never saw the iconic costume, either. (That yellow & green robe doesn’t count.) At this point, I’m sort of glad.

Fan-Cast: Luke Cage

“Sweet Christmas!”  — Luke Cage, very 70s-sounding catchphrase

Naturally, when I started fan-casting the stars of the Marvel/Netflix series, I began with Daredevil and his primary supporting characters. For some reason, I skipped over Jessica Jones, but I’ll get back to her. Then, due to some attention he/it was getting in the press, I jumped to Iron Fist, even though his series won’t debut until 2017. Now, I decided to go ahead and fan-cast Luke Cage, whose series will debut at the end of this September.

Of course, we have already met the live-action Netflix version of Luke Cage in the “Jessica Jones” series, as played by Mike Colter. As I said in my review of that series, “Mike Colter is a better Luke Cage than I had anticipated, though ideally the character should be a little taller, have more muscle mass, and act/sound a bit more “street”, in order to be faithful to the source material.” I stand by that. However, it is becoming increasingly evident how difficult it is to find someone who has the right look, build (especially w/ big muscles), and has any acting talent. (More on that in a moment…)

Luke Cage

Luke Cage - old-styleFor those who aren’t all that familiar with Luke Cage from the comics, I’ll try to boil it down for you…. Carl Lucas was a gangbanger from Harlem who eventually tried to go straight. His best friend, William Stryker, was still in the gangs and made the mistake of ticking off the Maggia (aka The Syndicate). Maggia thugs gave Stryker a serious beating, until Lucas stepped in and fought them off. Unfortunately, Stryker blamed Lucas for his girlfriend breaking up with him, so he framed Lucas for heroin possession. Lucas went to prison, where he was consumed with rage and resentment, and he was not exactly a model prisoner. After a transfer to Seagate Prison in Georgia, he also became the target of a brutal prison guard. Lucas agreed to be experimented on by Dr. Noah Burstein, who had developed a variation of the Super-Soldier process. The sadistic guard tried to sabotage the experiment, in hopes of injuring or killing Lucas. In the end, the experiment was more successful than anticipated, and Lucas gained superhuman strength (which has greatly increased in the years since), stamina, and durability (including bulletproof/knifeproof skin).

Luke-Cage-Marvel-Comics-Max-era-aLucas used his new powers to break out of prison and escaped to New York, where he adopted the name “Luke Cage” and worked as a “Hero for Hire.” For awhile, he gave himself the professional moniker “Power Man”, but he later dropped it. Over the years, Cage has battled many conventional and costumed and/or powered criminals, including his old friend Stryker. He was eventually cleared of criminal charges and became friends and even colleagues with many superheroes — e.g., Fantastic Four, Daredevil, Spider-Man, Punisher, etc. He has worked in various incarnations of the Defenders, Avengers, and (briefly) Fantastic Four. But, he is best known for his repeated partnering with Danny Rand, aka Iron Fist, sometimes under the business name of “Heroes for Hire”. Cage and Rand are also frequently joined, personally and/or professionally, by the bionic-armed Mercedes “Misty” Knight (who will debut in “Luke Cage”) and the katana-wielding Colleen Wing (who will debut in “Iron Fist”). In later years, Cage met, befriended, dated, fathered a child with, and then married the superpowered Jessica Jones.

Luke Cage - very ripped white t-shirtLuke Cage is a very tall (6’6″), heavily-muscled (400+ lbs.), African-American male. The early 70s version (see 1st pic) has him with a short afro, and in the early 2000s (see 2nd pic), it was a bit closer cropped. Nowadays, he shaves his head and sometimes has a little facial hair (see 3rd pic). He is generally a pretty laid-back, cool cat (does that sound 70s?). But, if he gets ticked off, look out! He is a “self-taught hand-to-hand combatant with years of street fighting experience” and additional training with Iron Fist. He can also toss around Mack trucks and go toe-to-toe with some of the biggest superpowered bruisers out there. He has a big heart (metaphorically speaking) and is steadfastly loyal to his friends, come thick or thin. He is smart, self-educated in the law, knows several languages, and is an inspiring and charismatic speaker. But, any portrayal of the character should not forget that he spent several years in a criminal gang in Harlem, and he feels most comfortable on those streets.

I’m pretty sure Cage was in his early 20s when he got his powers. For a live-action depiction of his “origin”, I certainly wouldn’t want the actor to be over 30; mid-20s would be better. But, given Cage’s physical attributes, it is hard enough to find someone that comes close, no matter what age. And, of course, it would be nice if he had some acting talent. As usual, I considered several actors and athletes, most of which I rejected for being too old, too short, too pretty, too ugly, not black enough (e.g., “The Rock”), etc. I figured my best bet was to ease up on the height requirement — say, keep it to at least 6’2″ — and then find someone under 40 with some muscles and, if need be, hope he is willing to bulk up even further. Terry Crews (6’2.5″,b.1968) looks great and is in amazing shape, but he’s already in his late 40s. Similarly, wrestler Bob Sapp (6’5or7″,b.1973), whom I suggested to play “B.A.” in The A-Team, though he is a few years younger. Others I looked at include Henry Simmons (6’4″,b.1970), LaMonica Garrett (6’2″,b.1975), Mario D’Leon (6’5″,b.????), Boris Kodjoe (6’3.5″,b.1973), Billy Brown (6’2.5″,b.~1970), Michael Jai White (6’1″,b.1967), Erik King (5’8or10″,b.1963), Mark “Rhino” Smith (5’10”,b.1969). Then, I went looking at a few more wrestlers, bodybuilders, even football players. [Note: It is amazing how many professional bodybuilders are/were under 5’9″!] I found Quentin “Rampage” Jackson (6′,b.1978), Bobby Lashley (6’1″,b.1976), Phil “The Gift” Heath (5’9″,b.1979), Lee Haney (5’11”?,b.1959), Ettore Ewen (aka Big E Langston) (5’11”,b.1986), Lincoln Brodrick (6′,b.1984), and, finally, my top three candidates for Cage…

Brian Orakpo

Brian Orakpo

Brian Orakpo (6’3or4″,b.1986) obviously has the required minimum height and muscles, accompanied by athletic prowess. He is a linebacker who played several years with the Washington Redskins, before moving to the Tennessee Titans in 2015, and he is known for both his speed and strength. But, his main advantage here is his youth. On the other hand, as a professional football player, he has the least experience as an “entertainer”. I have no idea if he has any acting talent.

Titus O'Neil

Titus O’Neil

Titus O’Neil (6’4″ (billed at 6’6″),b.1977) — real name Thaddeus Michael Bullard Sr. — is a retired pro-footballer who is now a popular wrestler with the WWE. He is older than I would prefer. Otoh, he is (obviously) another biiiig dude who could play our hero. The fact that he is used to playing a role and performing for the audience gives me hope that he might have some acting chops, as well. O’Neil and Orakpo both have fairly deep voices, too, which I think Cage should have.

 

 

Ezekiel Jackson

Ezekiel Jackson

Rycklon Stephens, aka Ezekiel Jackson (6’3or4″,b.1978), is another tall and (very) muscular wrestler — formerly WWE, now independent — who just might do “Luke Cage” justice. He is the most massive of our three candidates, which works in his favor for this role. As with O’Neil, I am cautiously optimistic of his acting ability. Unfortunately, his voice isn’t as deep as those of the other two, which works slightly against him. Still, can you imagine finally having a superhero on-screen with a physique like that?

Comments?

* All ideas copyright Christopher Harris, 2013-2016.

Bits-n-Pieces

I didn’t have time this week to do a regular-size piece on any one subject, but there were a few recent news items that I’ve been thinking of briefly commenting on. So,…

star-trek-axanarItem #1:  First up is the latest development re the suit against the producers of fan-film Star Trek: Axanar. The film short, “Prelude to Axanar” (2014), got a lot of good feedback, and Axanar Productions has been able to raise over $1 million, so far, for the full-length film. But, Paramount/CBS must have gotten nervous, especially since the production quality rivaled their own. So, they began legal proceedings a few months ago, claiming trademark infringement on multiple elements: species (including Vulcan ears), themes, characters, costumes, settings. Producer/actor Alec Peters predicted as much and was ready for a fight. (Or, perhaps a diplomatic negotiation? Good thing he is an attorney in his “day job”.) The most recent dispute is over the right to use the Klingon language. Sigh!

From what I understand, the planned film is set to adapt ideas from a 2-book module in the FASA Star Trek role-playing game: Return to Axanar/The Four Years War. It follows the events of a serious conflict between the nascent Federation and the Klingon Empire in the 2240s — i.e., two decades prior to ST:TOS. Sounds cool. I guess maybe I should watch “Prelude to Axanar” to see what all the hubbub is about….

Item #2:  There had been quite a lot of speculation about what race the title character would/should be in Netflix’s “Iron Fist”. Originalists like me wanted a white guy, while others thought an Asian or mixed actor would be more appropriate. Now that the very white Finn Jones (“Game of Thrones”) has been cast, the controversy has heated up even more, with those who wanted Danny Rand to be white (as he has always been in the comics) being called “racist”. Gimmeabreak! People throw that term around so much and so unfairly these days that it has lost its punch. (No pun intended.) I read an article a few months ago by an Asian guy who did not want Iron Fist to be Asian, either, but his reason was different. If I remember right, he didn’t want the first major Asian superhero to be a martial artist, ‘cuz it feeds a stereotype. Not sure I agree, but I understand and sympathize with the position. I guess he isn’t too thrilled about the rumor that Shang-Chi will make an appearance in “Iron Fist”.

Item #3:  Spider-Man news! Everybody is talking about the wall-crawler’s cameo at the end of the new trailer for Captain America: Civil War. I loved it, though it sort of ruins the surprise (if Spidey’s appearance is a surprise, anymore) within the movie itself. Still, I understand why they did it. I also love Spidey’s costume. It isn’t quite the comic original, but it is much closer and more like what a teenager would put together than the suits the Maguire and Garfield versions had. (Here’s a Youtube “Costume Breakdown” of the suit.) Also, in case I haven’t mentioned it, I am very happy with the casting of Tom Holland.

A second bit of Spidey-related news is that the Venom movie may happen after all. I have mixed feelings about this. I wasn’t thrilled with the version from Spider-Man 3, but my enthusiasm for the character had waned loooong ago, since its overuse in the 1990s and 2000s. If they want to do a solo film for this creature/villain/anti-hero, fine, but there are other characters I’d rather see get the live-action treatment.

Item #4:  Jessica Jones, Supergirl, and Agent Carter have each been renewed for another season. This is great news! I’ve mentioned (in my review of the show) that I was disappointed in several aspects of the Jessica Jones adaptation, but I liked it enough that I’ll probably watch a second season. I’m rather curious what the plot and main villain might be. Similarly, my “Initial Impressions of Supergirl” post included some negatives, but I continue to enjoy the show and am glad to see that the studio has seen fit to give it another season. (I may need to do a follow-up review, once Season 1 finishes.) As for Agent Carter, I never reviewed it, but I am enjoying that one quite a bit, as well. So, I’m thrilled that Hayley Atwell et al. will get a third season.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them - posterItem #5:  On the fantasy front, you may have already heard about the release of a script book for the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts I & II play and maybe the confirmation that there are three Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them films planned. But, unless you are a Potterhead (or whatever they call themselves), you may not be aware that J.K. Rowling is now writing material about other wizarding schools in other countries & continents at the Pottermore website, with particular emphasis on North America (since that’s where the new movies will take place). I checked it out, and so far they are relatively brief pieces. But, they do help to answer a few questions, fill in the blanks, pique our curiosity even more, etc., regarding magic in the rest of Harry Potter’s world. Looks like fun!

Item #6:  A fifth installment of Indiana Jones, starring Harrison Ford and directed by Steven Spielberg, has now been officially (re-)confirmed and even a tentative release date announced: July 19, 2019. Woohoo! That’s just a few days after Ford turns 77, so I hope he doesn’t overdo it! (That’s what stuntmen are for, right?) I also hope he and Spielberg can “make up for” the Crystal Skull and end the series on a high note. I’m rootin’ fer ya, guys!

The End.

UPDATE 5/13/2016:  Regarding #4 above, it looks like I jumped the gun. What I had read about “Supergirl” was, I believe, merely the optimism of one of the producers. However, it has now been announced that the show has been renewed for season 2 but is moving over to CBS’s cousin, the CW. (Now, they just have to figure out how to reduce its huge budget without losing quality or beloved characters.) Unfortunately, the news is not good about “Agent Carter”. Don’t remember what I read that gave me the idea it had already been renewed, but it (and I) was wrong. The show’s future has been in limbo all this time… until now. ABC has finally decided to cancel it. (At least, we’ll see Hayley Atwell in her new series: “Conviction”.) They also decided not to move forward with the “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” spin-off, “Marvel’s Most Wanted”. No word, yet, on if they’ll try to bring the Morse & Hunter characters back into the fold.

Fan-Cast: Iron Fist

Since Marvel/Netflix seem to be having a rough time getting some traction on the “Iron Fist” series (or, at least, last I read), I decided to help them out with some casting suggestions for the central character, Danny Rand, aka (the) Iron Fist. It’s the least I could do….

Iron Fist

Iron Fist crouching pose with fiery fistDaniel Rand is the son of successful businessman Wendell Rand, who had ties to the extra-dimensional realm of K’un-Lun, and his wife Heather. Wendell and Heather were killed during a trip to Tibet when Daniel was nine. Young Daniel spent the next decade in K’un-Lun, where he was trained in the martial arts by master Lei Kung the Thunderer. When he was 19, Daniel successfully battled the mystical dragon Shou-Lao the Undying, leaving him with the distinct brand of a dragon on his chest and granting him the abilities, title, and responsibilities of the “Iron Fist”, protector of K’un-Lun. The abilities in question included a general manipulation of his enhanced chi (e.g., for enhanced senses, healing, environmental adaptation) and the power to focus that chi energy into his fist, making it “like unto a thing of iron.” In later years, he learned additional ways to vastly augment and manipulate his chi for varying physical and psychological effects. He is a master of multiple martial arts fighting styles and other disciplines, as well as being at “peak human level of strength [for] a man of his age, height, and build that exercises intensively.”

Daniel Rand returned to America, where he took over his father’s business, aided by his father’s friend, an attorney named Jeryn Hogarth. In his “off hours”, and often when he should have been more involved with his business, Rand fought criminals of various types, “normal” and costumed, as “Iron Fist”. Sometimes referred to as “the Living Weapon”, Iron Fist is one of, if not the, most powerful & skilled martial artist(s) on the planet. He has teamed up with many different individuals and groups over the years, including Spider-Man, Daredevil, and incarnations of the Avengers and Defenders. But, he is best known for his frequent partnerships with Luke Cage, aka Power Man I, sometimes under the business name of “Heroes for Hire”. Rand and Cage are also frequently joined, personally and/or professionally, by Misty Knight and Colleen Wing, who do bodyguard and investigative work under the banner “Knightwing Restorations”. Rand’s enemies have included businessmen like Harold Meachum and Norman Osborn, as well as costumed villains such as Sabretooth, Davos (aka Steel Serpent, also from K’un-Lun), Master Khan, Robert Hao (aka Chaka Khan), and Nightshade.

iron_fist_v2_by_uncannyknack-d7pzp0bWhile I don’t remember much from Iron Fist’s early comics, I do seem to remember that he is generally level-headed. Not always responsible, but level-headed. Sometimes he gets angry or frustrated, but his training has helped him to maintain an even keel. He can be quite serious when necessary and very focused (also enhanced by his training), but he is also known to have a healthy sense of humor.

Despite the clearly Asian nature of his background, Daniel Rand has always been blonde and Caucasian-looking. There has been some talk of casting an Asian, or half-Asian, but others (like myself) think that would be a bad idea. Marvel’s wiki says Rand is 5’11”, 175 lbs., so I think a height range of about 5’10” to 6’1″ would be fair. How old? Well, if we stick to the source material, he became “Iron Fist” at 19 and returned to America shortly thereafter, when the once-every-10-years mystical conjunction between Earth and K’un-Lun reappeared. According to recent reports, the Netflix show will begin “just as Rand has returned to the Big Apple, after having gone missing from [the] city for several years.” It isn’t clear, though, if this will be his first time in NYC since becoming the Iron Fist nor how closely it will stick to the comics when it comes to K’un-Lun. But, rather than going with a 20-year-old businessman/superhero, I am guessing the show’s producers will want someone a bit more mature. So,… I think our best bet is casting someone in his mid-20s to early-30s.

Years ago, I thought David Paetkau (5’10”,b.1972) from “Flashpoint” would make a great Danny Rand, but he’s already in his mid-40s, so… too old. Martial-artist-turned-actor Scott Adkins (5’10”,b.1976) is too old, too, but he might make a good Davos/Steel Serpent (i.e., archenemy of Iron Fist). Also considered but deemed to be a little too old are Travis Fimmel (6′,b.1979) (“Vikings”), Charlie Hunnam (6’1″,b.1980) (“Sons of Anarchy”), and Alain Moussi (6’0.5″,b.1981) (Wings of the Dragon), though the last one could do all his own fights/stunts. (A Moussi vs. Adkins fight could be epic!) Model/actor Julien Kang (6’3″,b.1982) is too tall, plus he is half-Asian, so he probably wouldn’t look “natural” as a blonde. I like Jason Mac (6’2″,b.????), but he’s a little too tall and might be a little too old. Rick Cosnett (5’11”,b.1983) (“The Flash”) is a possibility, but his voice grates on me. I even considered UFC-fighter Alexander Gustafsson (6’5″,b.1987), but he’s way too tall and has no acting experience. Freddie Stroma (5’11.25″,b.1987) — Cormac McLaggen in the last three Harry Potter films — is a strong contender and gets an ‘honorable mention’. Finally, I considered Alexander Ludwig (6’2″,b.1992) but decided he is slightly too young and slightly too tall.

My top three candidates range in age from 26 to 33 (at this writing), so there’s one for each end of my preferred range and one right in the middle. They are…

Luke Bracey

Luke Bracey

First up is Luke Bracey (6′,b.1989). He hasn’t been around all that long, but genre fans may remember him from G.I. Joe: Retaliation, The November Man, and the recent Point Break remake. So, he’s familiar with action-oriented roles. He has the right height and build, and he definitely has the blonde “dude” look down. I think he’d make a fine Danny Rand / Iron Fist.

 

 

 

Chris Zylka

Chris Zylka

Next, Chris Zylka (6′,b.1985) can be seen in the Canadian series “The Secret Circle” and movies like Shark Night 3D, Piranha 3DD, The Amazing Spider-Man (as Flash Thompson), as well as the current series “The Leftovers”. So, he’s a physical match and he has genre cred. Could be just famous enough — but not too well-known — to make a great Danny Rand / Iron Fist.

 

 

 

Travis Van Winkle

Travis Van Winkle

If Travis Van Winkle (6′ or 5’11.25″,b.1982) looks familiar, then you may have followed my suggestion to watch “The Last Ship”. But, he was also in Bloodwork, 247°F, the 2009 remake of Friday the 13th, Asylum, Transformers, and appeared in several TV shows. I think he has a great look that would be just perfect for Danny Rand / Iron Fist.

 

 

 

Alright, lads and lasses. I gave it a shot, and I think I found some decent candidates. I hope Marvel/Netflix can do at least as well!

* All ideas copyright Christopher Harris, 2013-2016.

Headline Miscellany

Over the past few weeks, I’ve seen several announcements in genre news that I thought were worth commenting briefly on. You may have seen them already, but please indulge me while I give my two cents’ worth (or less) on each. Give your own in the comments, too, if you feel led….

TV/Netflix News

nbc-the-a-team-keyartA-Team:  I thought the movie version from a few years ago was just OK and only liked half of the casting choices. If they want to bring it back to TV, I guess that’s cool… as long as they stay faithful to the original. Sounds like they’re going to make at least one of the main characters female. As long as it isn’t B.A., I guess I can deal with that… maybe. Btw, I started fan-casting for an A-Team reboot long ago, so I’ll have to share those ideas in the coming months.

Iron Fist and Moon Knight:  If the rumor is true about “Iron Fist” getting scrapped (or, at least, postponed), that would be disappointing but not entirely surprising, given the problems with casting and developing a workable concept for the series. (I wonder if they’ve considered bringing in some Hong Kong talent….) It would be a shame not to see the other half of “Power Man and Iron Fist”/”Heroes for Hire” in the Defenders. On the other hand, the possible replacement with Moon Knight works for me. Not clear if MK would be part of the Defenders, but he has been in at least one version of the team in the comics. Regardless, I’ve already expressed my desire to see an MK series, so how could I say “no”?

X-Men:  Well, not X-Men, exactly, but it looks as if not one but two new shows are being developed involving some of Marvel’s not-so-Merry Mutants. The first is “Legion”, named after the illegitimate son of Charles Xavier and Gabrielle Haller, who happens to be off his nut (i.e., crazy) and incredibly powerful. The second will be a look at “The Hellfire Club” as it existed in the 1960s. Not sure how I feel about “Legion”, especially when there are, imho, several better options. But, a look at the clandestine mutant elitists know as “The Hellfire Club” could prove quite intriguing, and setting it in the 60s is an interesting twist.

TV/Movie News

(Teen) Titans and Birds of Prey(?):  It’s about time we heard something about this. We got a little news in May and then September that the “Titans” TV show is still in development at TNT. Now, we may be getting a Teen Titans movie, too! I was never a huge Titans fan, but I do like several of the characters, so this could be pretty cool. The quoted line that led to the speculation about a Birds of Prey movie, too, is not that clear to me. I read it as referring to the Teen Titans movie possibly having an “all female cast”. But, if they do it right, I am totally in favor of a big-screen Birds of Prey, as long as the connection to Batman and other heroes is there.

Movie News

Xenomorph (H.R. Giger)

Xenomorph (H.R. Giger)

Aliens and Prometheus:  The first part of this is that Scott is now insisting that his Prometheus 2 be scheduled to shoot before Alien 5, which is probably fine, since Blomkamp is still refining his story and script. (Downside, ofc, is that this may delay Alien 5 another year.) A few weeks later, Scott announced that his film will now be titled, Alien: Paradise Lost. This strengthens — or, at least, confirms — its connection to the Alien films. Uncharacteristically, Scott even hinted at “connections with Ripley”, the return (or would that be the debut?) of the classic xenomorph, and big plans for the android David’s severed head. Scott is 77, which may factor into his reasons for this accelerated pace. For me and the rest of the fans, I think it’s a good thing.

Superman:  A bit of bad news, this one. Rumor has it that the much-anticipated Man of Steel 2 is on indefinite hold. Truth be told, though, it’s all a bit sketchy, with nothing definitive coming from the studio or reliable sources. Far as I could tell, we never had any projected dates for production or release, anyway. Still, this is a bit disappointing, and I hope everything comes together in the near future. I’d really like to see Henry Cavill’s Supes in solo action, with focus on him and his classic foes, while he’s still in his 30s.

Men in Black:  I don’t know about this…. MiB is due to return with another trilogy (could be great!) but without Will Smith (could spell disaster). So much of the success of the first trilogy was the characters played by Smith and Jones and their odd-couple chemistry on screen. This makes me dubious of another trilogy’s success without either star. But, who knows? There may be another perfect pair ready to be cast that could — along with clever stories/scripts and F/X — give the franchise three more blockbusters.

Indiana Jones:  According to Spielberg, “I’ll probably do an Indy 5 with Harrison.” This confirms what both (Spielberg protege and current Lucasfilm president) Kathleen Kennedy and producer Frank Marshall have hinted at earlier this year, though there is no script and it will probably be awhile. Of course, if they want to have Ford, 73, actively involved, they better get a move on! One possibility is to have an elderly, possibly ailing, Indy (played by Ford) bookend the movie, as he relates a tale of his younger years to his (grand)children. Not sure how I feel about Chris Pratt (suggested by some) playing that younger version of Indiana Jones, but casting will be crucial to capture that same, lovable, swashbuckling swagger.

Die Hard:  Not sure how I feel about this. I thought the last installment was fun, yet it lacked a little something. Making a prequel could be a great idea, or it could really suck. Willis’ unique presence — the attitude (inc. the ever-present smirk) and delivery of great one-liners — is what made this franchise so popular. Without him, I’m not sure it’s worth the effort. Casting the young John McClane is key, along with a great script and director, of course. (Just as it will be for any Star Wars prequel featuring a young Han Solo, or the Indiana Jones prequel mentioned above.) If it doesn’t all come together, they should just let the franchise rest in peace.

UPDATE, 10/22/2015:  Of course, this came out the day after I published this post….

Krypton:  “It takes place 200 years before Man of Steel.… [W]e’ll learn about the politics of the world. We’ll learn about the culture, the art, all the different guilds… a lot of different locations… some of the other moons, which is kind of cool.” That all sounds cool to me. Lots of opportunity to expand on what we “know” about Krypton and its peoples. I’m sure the creators are having a lot of fun mapping it all out. Now, how about an estimated release date…?

Marvel’s Flawed Heroes of Hell’s Kitchen

In case you missed it, a new, live-action series of Marvel superheroes is brewing over at Netflix and will begin filming in New York this summer (2014). As per Nerd Jedi, the new project will be produced as “four serialized programs totaling 52 one-hour episodes culminating in a four to eight episode mini-series programming event.” Each 13-episode arc will feature one of Marvel’s “darker” heroes based in and around Manhattan’s “Hell’s Kitchen” district, known for its seedy, dangerous atmosphere. Which heroes? Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and Jessica Jones. Ol’ hornhead (DD), the Man Without Fear, will be first at bat, because, well… he’s fearless. Jones, Fist, and Cage will follow.

Defenders quad - Marvel NetflixThe first report I read made it sound as if this is a single series with separate character-oriented story-arcs, but a single title was not given. Interestingly, IMDB has separate entries for each of the three male characters, as if they will be separate series. (What about Jones?) I guess it remains to be seen how they will be marketed — either separately or under the “Defenders” banner.

The miniseries will have the four heroes team up. This makes sense, given their common area of operation. Plus, Cage and Iron Fist often teamed in the comics as “Heroes for Hire”, and Cage eventually dated and had a child with Jones. I’m guessing that this is when they will first be called “The Defenders”.

If you are unfamiliar with the characters, here’s the summary from the AP release:

“In the Marvel world, Daredevil is the superhero identity of Matt Murdock, who is blind but whose other senses are extra-human. Jessica Jones is a former superhero now working as a private detective. Luke Cage was wrongly imprisoned and gained his powers unexpectedly in an experiment. Iron Fist is the superhero identity of Daniel Rand, who has amazing martial arts abilities.”

As it happens, I am familiar with the characters and, while they may not be my favorites, I do like them and am excited to hear that they will finally get their shot(s) at the screen. I’m just a little ambivalent about whether I like the idea of them going (first) to the small screen. Daredevil, of course, already had his shot at the big screen (2003) — to mixed reviews. I liked it OK, but it wasn’t exactly satisfying. Maybe a TV version is the way to go, this time. I would like to see a Luke Cage or Luke Cage / Iron Fist (aka “Heroes for Hire”) movie, but maybe these series could lead up to it. As for Jones, she isn’t a “big” (i.e., well-known and/or important) enough character to warrant a feature film of her own, but I can see her being included as a supporting character. Having a 13-episode run to introduce our ex-superhero/private detective to a larger audience is probably a good move. Plus, the advantage for all of them is that there is more time to develop the characters — their personalities, histories, abilities, relationships, etc. (I guess I am warming up to the idea of this series. (Or, series of series?))

Personally, what I would rather see is a “Marvel Knights” series (either TV or movies) starring Daredevil, Luke Cage, Punisher, Moon Knight, and Ghost Rider (done right, this time), maybe with rotating membership and guest stars like Elektra, Cloak & Dagger, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, Black Widow, and Wolverine. Sigh! A boy can dream, right?

We likely won’t see any of the new Marvel/Netflix stuff until at least 2015, probably 2016. (There are conflicting reports.) Then, “the epic will unfold over multiple years of original programming.” But, I for one look forward to whatever they put out — as long as it is a quality product, with good casting and scripts, and is faithful to the source material — and I hope it’s a sign of more to come!