Marvel’s Iron Fist and cultural appropriation

in Arts & Entertainment by

The television series Iron Fist, based on the comic series with the same name, was bashed by critics. Most of them gave it a poor score, not because it was a sloppy show, but because they deemed it racist and white-washed.

  Iron Fist premiered on Netflix on March 17. Days before its release, the show was receiving bad reviews by critics. After its release, however, fans realized that the show wasn’t bad at all. The Verge’s review of the show had the title, “Iron Fist isn’t just racially uncomfortable, it’s also a boring show.” A few days after the show made public the author of the article released a video called, “The Problem With Marvel’s Iron Fist.”

   When reading the articles of websites, such as The Verge and Vulture, there was one main subject that all of them brought up: cultural appropriation. Of the main character, Vulture’s Matt Zoller Seitz said, “Iron Fist, a.k.a. Danny Rand (Finn Jones), is a scruffy blond New Yorker with a slight surf-dude accent. He’s spent the last 15 years studying kung fu with monks in the Himalayas.”

The Verge’s Kwame Opam stated in his article, “A white man starring in a series rooted in Orientalist stereotypes, which collides directly with the ongoing conversation about the diversity in Marvel’s superhero properties.” It was obvious writers were mostly against the show because the show was “whitewashed.”

  Opam talked about the race issues in the show throughout the whole review. There were a bunch of other reviewers that talked about the show in the same way. 50 reviewers scored the show at 19% on the rating website on Rotten Tomatoes.  One can really see the disconnect between critics and viewers with fans giving it a rating of 85% on the site.

These critics were not doing a good job reviewing the show because they based the score that the show got off of their own emotions and not the actual work and effort that went into it. If they thought the show was prejudiced, or whitewashed, rather than mentioning it in the review why not mention it in a different article? Taking a whole article to discuss it leaves no space to do a review. Rarely did most of these sites talk about other characters, or any technical aspect of the show; things such as filmography, or even screenplay, were not discussed in most of the review, making these articles seem less like reviews and more like rants.

  Another thing was that the show was only criticized for being “racist.” Never did they actually mention that it was based of the source material; if anything should be criticized, it should be the comic books, because they are the real source materials.

  An example of a good review is that of the website Uproxx. Although it was a negative review, just like the other articles, the author of the article instead delved deep into the technical aspect of the show, what was done right, and what was done wrong, explaining that the show was boring and lacked action scenes, which they did not like because the show was being promoted as an action based show. The author also brought up the comic book multiple times in the review. Rather than picking the show apart because they thought it was “a  show” they picked it apart because they thought the show was simply bad show.

  Reviewers should abstain from letting their emotions, those relating to worldly issues, to what is being discussed affect their opinion on something that was meant to entertain.

Actor Finn Jones as Iron Fist. Image courtesy of Comicsoon.
Actor Finn Jones as Iron Fist. Image courtesy of Comicsoon.



I’m a staff writer for The Squall and this is my first year in journalism class. I’m a senior here at Atlantic. Writing has always been a passion of mine, so when I came across a class that would allow me to do a lot of it, I automatically took it. Every time I am around the people who are as passionate for this project as I am, it only makes me enjoy my time more. When I graduate, I plan on becoming an English major or an architecture major, depending on how I’m feeling the day I’m choosing.