Whenever I think of how much of its content I consume on a regular basis, I become more and more convinced that it's Marvel's world and ordinary humans just live in it. But not everything the entertainment company touches turns to gold. While Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage have all been varying degrees of well-received by critics and audiences, it appears as if Marvel's Iron Fist may break its streak of successful urban Netflix superhero dramas. A few days before its March 17 premiere and Iron Fist only has a 12 percent aggregate approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. That dismal feedback could mean a swift end to the show. Will Iron Fist get a Season 2?
This is uncharted territory for a Marvel Netflix show. The first season of Daredevil Season 1 pulled a 98 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, and Variety reported that a research firm estimated that over 10 percent of subscribers watched an episode or more within a short window after its release. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Netflix had greenlit a Daredevil Season 2 less than two weeks after Season 1 premiered. The Rotten Tomatoes score for Jessica Jones Season 1 is holding at 93 percent; that series dropped in November 2015. In January 2016, The Hollywood Reporter shared the news of the renewal announcement Netflix made at its Television Critics Association presentation. Variety reported on the upcoming second season of Luke Cage in December 2016. Season 1 premiered in September 2016 and quickly racked up a 96 percent score on the ratings site.
For any mathlete alums reading this, I'll point out what you may have already calculated: the average Rotten Tomatoes score of the first seasons of the first three Netflix standalone Marvel shows is 95.6 percent. That's an extraordinary track record. The companies behind this franchise can't be happy that Iron Fist is being almost universally panned. On network television, numbers this low would spell quick cancellation. But Iron Fist premieres after Netflix and Marvel already made a big commitment to its characters, especially Danny Rand (Finn Jones). Danny is a member of The Defenders, the team that brings together all four of Marvel's Netflix vigilantes. The first season of that series is set to drop this year, and who knows how much story involving Danny has already been written into the upcoming second seasons of Jessica Jones and Luke Cage, the third season of Daredevil, or even the first season of the Daredevil spinoff, The Punisher, which is also in the works. Marvel Television doesn't have the choice of simply dropping the series and pretending it never happened.
On top of the poor reviews, there's the backlash that began when Jones was first announced as the show's lead. Though Danny Rand is a white man in the comics too, there's no textual reason why he has to be white. Many have criticized Iron Fist for appearing to appropriate Asian cultures and using a white hero to represent them. Jones has also been taken to task by Twitter for his off-key defense the alleged whitewashing, which has included blaming the rise of Donald Trump for prematurely turning audiences against his character.
Netflix has not announced its intentions to either renew Iron Fist or to cancel it, but it's not looking good for the filthy rich martial artist. Because of what's already in the can, however, Danny Rand still has some future left.