Marvel's 'Iron Fist' Gives Anti-Capitalist Take On Billionaire Superhero

Netflix’s fourth Marvel series Iron Fist debuted on March 17th to, well, some lackluster reception, and I can’t say that I disagree. With an unfocused storyline, mostly dull characters, and some uninspired fight scenes, there’s barely anything redeemable in all 13 episodes. But the final nail in the coffin for this show would have to be the its swing-and-a-miss at anti-capitalist propaganda.

Iron Fist follows the story of Danny Rand (Finn Jones) who, after spending 15 years in a monastery following a plane crash that killed his parents, returns as an adult to New York to regain control of his family’s billion-dollar company. In the meantime, he fights against an evil threat using his skills gained as the mystical Iron Fist.

Of course, being both a billionaire company majority shareholder and a practicing Buddhist leads to a few conflicts between standard business practices and what just “feels” right. I’ll give you three guesses as to which one is portrayed as bad, especially in one of Danny’s first meetings where they discuss pricing for a new drug.

It should be noted that Head of Marvel Television Jeph Loeb described the show as “a very hard look at the One Percent” and how they affect daily lives. Right, because one-percenter boards are just always holding meetings about ignoring thousands of ailing people for their own profit. Even when the board members offer reasonable explanations behind the people spending time and money making life-saving drugs actually recuperating the costs, it’s bogged down because that’s profiting “off the misery of others.” I guess the endless misery and money spent on scientists and pharmacists' trials and failures in making and delivering medicines don’t count.

At least that previous scene offered some arguments for business. A later discussion revolving around the potential scandal of a nuclear plant possibly causing cancer in surrounding neighborhoods leads to Danny shutting down the plant while keeping the workers on payroll. The opposing argument (beyond there being NO proof that they are responsible) boils down to “it isn’t the way business gets done.” What an awful defense for a company, but I guess Iron Fist doesn’t know how business gets done anyway.

One sure sign is the fact that they give the final lecture against capitalism to a man who actually ends up betraying Danny (great shot there!) Here, Bakuto (Ramon Rodriguez) convinces Danny to help him in his mission by reminding him of how the marginalized are affected in the world. "The world we live in now is run by corporations, not by governments - oligarchies of the rich and powerful," he says.

Here it’s supposed to be a persuasive argument for Danny to join their side, but, for me, the scene just shows how dull and uninspiring the show eventually becomes. A villain’s motivations match a college freshman’s opinion after a sociology class, and the show expects me to take the argument seriously. Although, if this series can’t even do action right, how can I expect them to present a failed way of thinking competently?  

If you have an unlimited amount of time to spend binging on TV, I suppose there are worse shows to watch than Iron Fist, but this Netflix show offers nothing new, not even in liberal talking points.

Lindsay Kornick
Lindsay Kornick
Lindsay Kornick is a Contributing Writer for MRC Culture.