I haven’t seen “Iron Fist” yet. I might. I might not. I’m ambivalent about it. I saw “Luke Cage” and that has satisfied me. The reviews about it I’ve seen have not inspired much confidence.
I’ve kept an eye on controversy surrounding this series which pretty much went hand in hand with the Doctor Strange controversy. I had a bigger problem with Doctor Strange than with “Iron Fist.” Truth be told, I really don’t care much about “Iron Fist.” He wasn’t a character I followed as a kid. I sort of lumped him and Shang-chi and Samurai into a big category I called Prof. Hashimoto. Basically, it didn’t matter to me and I moved on. My biggest question is: Is this the kind of story I’d like to see an Asian American in? From what I’ve read, this isn’t the American martial arts story I want to see, especially staring an Asian American performer. This one sounds like I’ve seen it a lot of times.
I’ve spent a lot of time in dojo, classrooms, and parks. I’ve traveled for friendly practices and seminars. There have also been a lot of movies nights–a lot of movie nights. While I’m currently not as active as I’d like to be (the cost of little kids), I still practice. I’m still invested. I’ve seen a lot of really great ideas that would be good “mainstream” or “speculative” stories for POC characters. I’d like to see those. I’d like to see us branch out beyond the East Asian/BJJ stuff we’ve already have. Asia is a big place and there are a lot of Asian martial arts traditions. We have room to grow.
While sometimes martial arts can feel like a kids’ activity or a golf-equivalent for the aim-challenged, there is a lot of diversity in the community. I am a yonsei aikido practitioner who’s last official senseis were an African American artist and a lesbian teacher. I’m working on my story. To my fellows, I want to hear yours.
But in the meantime, maybe I’ll watch “Iron Fist,” maybe not. Regardless, I do have one question: Did they make him wear the outfit?