IRON FIST: NETFLIX AND THE ‘WHAT NEXT’

MARVEL’S IRON FIST: WHAT WENT RIGHT, AND WHAT WE CAN DO

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It’s amazing to see how the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) has built up its interconnected universe on the small screen. Time, chance, coincidence and opportunity all seem to have worked to Marvel’s advantage as they have not only seen success in their most popular titles, but have also seen the return of some of their long-lost titular characters such as Spider-man, Blade, Daredevil and Punisher. Now, it was the worry of so many of us fans that each of these individuals wouldn’t get justice done to their characters, but again, the MC did us proud.

Taking into consideration the fact that the MCU is the first of its kind to weave an interconnected universe in the form of movies and the small screen, it should not therefore, be a cause for alarm when they dare to try something new. I am careful to point this out since there is so much that the MCU is still yet to discover—and building a unique feel, theme and story for every character is not knew to Marvel, let alone its comics. One way to look at it is that, like the comics, Marvel has never shied away from tackling current issues (sorry DC, but Marvel did this better).

Perhaps one of the most daring moves by Marvel under the leadership of its forerunners, Stan ‘The Man’ Lee, being one of them, Marvel broke the approach to doing comic-books. Also, on the same note, it could be said that the decision to take certain concepts from DC and flip them was a conscious decision to prove that they could do it better. Though debatable, it’s still a fascinating topic for fans to discuss. So, I’ll leave that to you true believers. If we could then take that understanding to mind, then we could argue-all Marvel fans out there-that we could not have gotten some of the most memorable characters that the world has seen had Marvel (called Atlas then) not dared to create characters who challenged the norm and what defined super-heroes, we wouldn’t have been thrilled to see what’s going on before our very eyes this day and age.

It would not have been thrilling to plead for Sony to let go of Spider-man; or for us fans to plead for Punisher, Daredevil to be brought back; or to even hope for the return of the X-Men and the Fantastic 4 to Marvel from Fox. That is why we fight for them to be brought home, like the father of the Prodigal Son story, only that this time we go after him and try to drag our son home. We LOVE these characters, RELATE to them and acknowledge the UNIQUE attachment we have with them. Think about this for a moment, which discriminated parties in this world cannot see themselves in the X-Men? Which child of colour cannot see himself as Spider-man or as Black Panther, a king? If psychologists are correct, that is the kind of mental stimulation that challenges the imagination and helps a kid realize his potential in such a dark world that probably won’t like him because of such silly things as their skin-color or their gender.

Then in comes a character like the Iron Fist. It’s taken me some time but I feel ready to talk about the new Netflix show of the titular character. You see, it’s crazy to attack Marvel on the account that they should have made the Iron Fist Asian—on that, I agree with Comicbookcast2, Comicsexplained and Nerdsync; there is no need, because Danny Rand isn’t of Asian descent. The second critique is that of its main character played by Finn Jones—in his defence, there was no need to attack him on social media to the point that he quit Twitter. Yes, let’s admit it, depending on whose writing the story, Danny Rand Iron Fist has always been a bit quirky but wise, and at times dead serious. Trying to find the fine line between both iterations is tricky, especially if adapted for the small screen as a live-action feature.

Kevin Tencharoen (I sure hope I spelt that right), some of you might remember that name from the Mortal Kombat live-action series that was created a couple of years back. He was one of the minds behind it. I know some of you will immediately have a light-bulb moment and realize something…Marvel took a risk with the one person well-known for birthing a martial arts-based series some years back. But, given what Marvel had, they risked, yes, they did, Harold Meachum was a more horrible villain than his Earth 616 counterpart; Colleen Wing’s story and relationship was discussed; Davos’ deviousness and 2-Faced nature; Danny’s complicated, action-filled life as the Iron Fist was aptly portrayed as well as his desire to build his father’s company and seek justice for his family as well.

I will agree on one thing, the pacing is slow and they could have done something about that. Behold the blessed place of the critic and fan; the position of evaluator and analyser. We can critique it but we also have to do it in a manner that will see the characters built and brought back in Season 2 better than ever. So, I plead with you, the MCU exists not for Marvel but for us, let’s help them build it better.

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MARVEL’S GHOST RIDER: THE CONCEPT OF BRIDGING TWO WORLDS

WHY MARVEL’S GHOST RIDER IS WORTH LOOKING INTO

“This is what I look like when I’m smiling”

-Johnny Blaze

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With rumors beginning to flood the internet and fan-boys (such as myself) and fan-girls going with the buzz of the small screen flow, I felt that it is about time that we discussed this peculiar character; Ghost Rider. I have to point out here that the character has been rumored to appear soon on Netflix with a new actor as the vexed Johnny Blaze. Although this is some big news, I feel that there are still some fans who’ll greatly miss Nicholas’ Cage’s portrayals of the character.

To start this off I feel that I should be clear here and point out that although some of you out there might rate McFarlane’s Spawn higher than Ghost Rider, I want to assure you now that there is more to consider here when it comes to the latter. You see, unlike Ghost Rider, Spawn is limited to the spiritual aspect and does not fully, ‘walk both worlds’ as Ghost Rider does. Again, Spawn is a single individual who does not quite draw on any other being’s power other than his own in order to do what he does. Last but not least, I’d love to point out that Ghost Rider’s ties to Zarathos are quite unique and raise the Rider’s threat-level higher than that of Spawn when it comes to raw might and power. [Don’t get me wrong here, but Spawn IS an amazing character with incredible power, though he is no match for Ghost Rider as you’ll soon see].

Ghost Rider’s link to the mystical is through the ancient demon, Zarathos. Zarathos was Mephisto’s challenger when it came to seeking rulership over hell. What’s interesting about this is that he was almost as old and as powerful as Mephisto, and had already amassed for himself a large number of followers in his bid to take over Mephisto’s throne. By the time he was discovered and trapped in a crystal by Mephisto, he had waxed powerful. This way hell’s threatening divide was stopped up and mended.

Later on, Mephisto uses this very crystal to create the Ghost Rider. A process he undertakes by merging the crystal to the ‘soon-to-be’ Ghost Rider, Johnny Blaze. What makes this particular Ghost Rider special to me is the fact that he did not make his pact with Mephisto out of selfishness, but rather out of selflessness. In his pursuit to save his dad, Johnny does the unthinkable and makes a deal with Mephisto who had since pursued and tracked him down for his own personal reasons. Conveniently for Mephisto, Johnny was in a desperate state and he used this to his own advantage and made the desperate Johnny into the Ghost Rider, while simultaneously denying him the one thing he wanted; the health and life of his father.

Tragic though, this may be, it speaks volumes about how we become what we least expect because of devastating circumstances that come our way. As though led by misfortune, Johnny’s loss became his greatest consolation for justice as he took on the mantle of the Ghost Rider! Now, tasked with the job returning wandering escaped souls [back] to hell, Johnny takes on the eery, mysterious and mystical persona of the dark angel, Zarathos.

Endowed with incredible power, the Ghost Rider is born. Zarathos’ power is freely given to Johnny to bring in the escaped spirits to their rightful place but [then again] here’s the twist; Zarathos lends all of his power to Johnny because through him, he gets to do that which he has painfully longed to do…he gets to bring justice to himself by getting revenge on the one being that put him in his present situation, Mephisto. This great power is alluded to in the World War Hulk Series when Ghost Rider intentionally avoids fighting the Hilk because of fears that the collateral damage would be severe. Basically, he knew that his might, combined with that of an enraged Hulk would cause death and that was not his mission when confronting him.

Why I bring this up is because of a little known fact; the Rider fights against Mephisto, rather than for him. In this way he is a very remarkable character. Intimidating though the Rider might be, he does not shy away from being what the Rider’s innate nature is-a fusion of two beings to create one new one-the Spirit of Vengeance. Allow me to make my point here; it is at this point that the Rider truly walks both worlds. He is as much a son of sorrow as a human being, as well as the expression of a disgraced spirit. He is capable of understanding as well as navigating his way mentally and physically in the astral and the physical plane.

As a Christian, I find this tremendously helpful in concretizing my understanding of what the Christian is. He is very much a being walking in two worlds; that of the spirit and the material. Not only is he called to do so, he is to embody the divine spirit that lives in him; that is, Jesus Christ himself. As the Scriptures would say, “as he lived, so also ought we to live…[and] as he is so also shall we be.” This has profound implications, especially when we consider that we become ‘Sons of God’ (see my previous posts on the concept of ‘son of god’ as applied to Christ). We are also said to be be transformed…but I’ll go more into that in a separate post soon.

Please remind me!

Remember, to keep riding and keep searching :-)!