The Netflix corner of the MCU is designed for more adult audiences. That focus is obvious with the “PG-16” style of the shows which include more violence, sexuality, cursing, and drug usage than the films. Marvel knows that their film division has to stay at a relatively kid friendly place because selling toys and other merchandise is a vital part of the overall business plan. One of the less appreciated ways that the adult-skewing of Netflix comes out is in heavier themes, focused on current issues in society. Not only does Luke Cage have racial slurs and steamy romance, it also addresses racism, policing, and the prison system. As MCUExchange began to discuss yesterday, it appears that Iron Fist has picked its own set of issues to tackle. Jeph Loeb explained further recently.
It has to do with a number of things, but — if we had to boil it down — [‘Iron Fist’] is a very hard look at the One Percent…Or — in this particular case — the One Percent of the One Percent and how that affects our world on a day-to-day basis.
While much of the media focus on groups like “Occupy Wall Street” has died down in recent years, a strong anti-corporate sentiment exists in many Americans. The role of corporate influence in politics is a hot topic. This theme is a smart move for Marvel. So far wealth has been treated relatively cavalierly in the MCU. Tony Stark is super rich and his wealth is generally treated as fun fantasy for audience members in the Iron Man movies. As Netflix shapes toward The Defenders it will be interesting to see if Luke Cage and Jessica Jones might have some issues with Danny Rand or at the very least hit him up for some rent money. Even Daredevil has worked to make Matt Murdock a guy struggling to make ends meet, paid in chickens and pies as much as dollars, to keep him grounded.
Some of the interest in the topic of extreme wealth is also part of the Netflix/Marvel love of all things New York City.
We’ve been saying from the very beginning that New York City is the fifth Defender. We’ve seen Hell’s Kitchen, we’ve seen Harlem, but we really haven’t seen the high-end world, the financial world of New York, which is such a big part of it…That kind of billionaire existence, high-level corporation, Big Pharma, things like that — we get a chance to sort of put our little Marvel mark on and see what happens.
New York’s size and diversity does create a fascinating melting pot. It is not unusual to see a major investment banker walking the street next to a homeless person. Those contrasts make the city a fascinating study in human diversity. Keeping the NYC vibe but changing up the focus is a way for Netflix to build a tapestry of connected properties but also keep the universe diverse enough that viewer fatigue doesn’t set in.
One other note on the idea of shining a light on the “one percent.” It will be interesting to see how the creators of the show look at the topic. One would presume, for example, that Jeph Loeb actually is part of the one percent of income earners in the USA. Successful actors and executives in show business are generally among the more financially capable people in society. Dealing with an issue like wealth distribution and abuse of financial power can be a bit tricky for such successful people. The potential for pot-calling-the-kettle-black backlash is significant here.
To read more about the shows topical focus, as well as some comments about how Danny Rand will be challenged to prove his identity to the world, check out the rest of the interview at CBR, linked below. Do you like the decision to delve into the world of financial elites? Do you like bigger themes weaved into these shows, or would you rather they just stick to the superhero stuff? Share your thoughts below.
Iron Fist will release on Netflix on March 17, 2017.