Thursday, February 23, 2017

Exploring the Marvel Netflix Shows: Part Eight (Latest Updates)

This is a continuation of my exploration of the Marvel Netflix shows (part onetwothreefourfive, six, and seven).  I'm a big fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and out of all its current expressions the Netflix shows are my favourite--the ultimate highlight of the format.  The fan service surrounding these shows lacks collated, contextualized, and expository material, so what follows addresses those elements.

This post is looking forward into the future, so beyond what's been confirmed I indulge in some speculation.  Potential SPOILERS below.

The second Iron Fist trailer dropped (followed by a Danny specific video) and in the absence of the usual easter egg videos I'll describe it: The intro matches reports from New York Comic Con with Danny arriving at Rand Corps (his father's company) fifteen years after his disappearance (and presumed death).  He looks like a hobo so security tries to throw him out, giving Danny a chance to show off his martial arts skills.  Harold Meachem, business partner of Danny's father, asks questions the audience will have: "Why has he waited so long to show up? How the hell did he learn martial arts?"  It's not clear how Danny first meets Colleen Wing, but we see him at her training facilities (where we get a K'un-Lun reference).  Danny mentions a deep attachment to his father's company.  We also get statements from the show's two presumed villains (Harold and Madame Gao, aka Crane Mother); Gao says (in the Danny featurette) "This city is no place for the Iron Fist."  There's a Claire Temple voice over saying "I know what they are, I know what they can do," which is presumably a reference to the Hand (in the Danny featurette we learn that Danny doesn't fully believe in his ancient enemy initially, "They are very real--they've infested Rand [Corps]" says Harold--perhaps he's in opposition to Gao, or wishes to get out from under her influence).  Then Kevin Singleton (see below) says, "A change is coming Danny, become what you were meant to be."  There are a couple of images I wanted to specifically look at:

This is Harold Meachem with blood spatter all over his face; it appears within the trailer than he's beaten someone to death, possibly as Gao watches--but who?  Why?  While Harold doesn't look pleased, it certainly illustrates his capacity for violence, or perhaps a need to obey Gao.  Finn Jones mentions that it won't always be clear who the good/bad guys are, so perhaps Harold isn't as cartoony as he is in the comics.

This is the Steel Serpent symbol we've seen before on Gao's heroine packages (Daredevil), and by featuring the sigil prominently in the trailer it's clear we'll see the classic Iron Fist character.  No one seems to understand the "Yang Hai-Qing" reference shown above.

We get what I think will be the only nod to Iron Fist's traditional yellow and green costume in this image while he's in K'un-Lun.  I've heard some fans expressing disappointment if we don't get his traditional outfit in the show, but I'm fine either way.  If Luke Cage can skip the costume I'm sure Danny Rand can survive without it as well.

MCU Exchange speculated that actor Ramon Rodriguez is Steel Serpent, but assuming his IMDB name reveal is accurate (Kevin Singleton), that theory appears to be busted (unless they are changing his comic book identity).  I think Singelton's words to Danny in the trailer are not the sort of thing an antagonist would say (unless, of course, the intent is for him to become a villain in subsequent seasons).

On to more general speculation: Harold Meachem seems to be working for Gao (rather than a partnership, ala Wilson Fisk; certainly the deference given her by the Kingpin pays off here); perhaps he made a deal with her to get rid of the Rand family ten years earlier, or he could simply be under her thumb.  This suggests Gao (Crane Mother) is the major villain.  Meachem seems completely disconnected from her heroine enterprise.  Perhaps with Fisk in prison she needed a new partner, but her connection to Meachem may have already existed--we simply don't know.  In the comics Gao isn't involved at all with the Hand (or heroine distribution), but it appears the show is making things simpler by folding all enemy ninjas under one umbrella.

A final note from the teaser: I'm unsure who the woman depicted above is; the white outfit suggests Colleen, but it doesn't look like her (her stunt double perhaps?).  I'm open to suggestions.

The Colleen Wing teaser makes me think the cage fight scene is her intro for the show--whether to Danny Rand, the viewing audience, or both is uncertain.  We still aren't sure how Danny meets Claire, I'd assumed it was through Colleen, but it's possible the connection goes the other way around.

The only new IMDB reveal (keeping in mind the usual caveats about the site) is the aforementioned Kevin Singleton.  While there are a myriad of Kevins in Marvel, there are none with that specific name (and there are no Singletons).  None of the Kevins I looked at seemed likely, so this character may have been created for the show.

Most of the show's directors were revealed in January, but one of the three unknowns has since been unveiled: RZA is directing the sixth episode of the season ("Immortal Emerges From Cave").

Wired posted a fun article where a writer estimated the amount of force Danny can exert with a punch.

While there's still no firm release date for The Defenders, there's reason to suspect it will be no earlier than mid-June (although, as the source of the article points out, Marvel has a say on when the date is announced, so it could theoretically be earlier).

The theory that Sigourney Weaver's Alexandra is the Beast (not Hank McCoy, but the creature the Hand serves) persists.  I mentioned previously the potential white-washing complaints that this might entail, but putting that aside for a moment, MCU Exchange's theory is that she's based on Alexander Bont (the Brian Michael Bendis created predecessor to Wilson Fisk).  One problem I have with this is the absence of any reference to Bont previously, when surely it's something Fisk would have noted as he was taking over Hell's Kitchen.  Another issue is that given how the criminal world is depicted in Daredevil season two, there's little time for a new crime lord to appear and take Fisk's place (indeed, ensuring no one fills the vacuum is why Fisk frees Frank Castle).  The way Sigourney Weaver's character is set up suggests to me that she's in charge of a legitimate business (presumably corporate and in my opinion IGH itself)--something far more concrete than the pseudo-legitimacy Fisk pursues in Daredevil season one--and beyond the scope of what Bont would represent.  If we accept the hints about Iron Fist it seems like Crane Mother leads the Hand, leaving no room for the Beast.

Another theory has posited that Alexandra is based on Punisher villain Ma Gnucci, who is very similar to Alexander Bont above (yet another crime lord in New York City).  I have all the same problems mentioned above, except Gnucci (as is) makes even less sense in this context than a possessed Bont (her personality also seems unlike the descriptions we've heard about Alexandra).

There's another IMDB character listing (keeping in mind the usual caveat that the site can be wrong): Sowande, who has no obvious comic book basis.

There hasn't been much Punisher news, but we did get a couple more characters listed on IMDB:
  • Dax - likely show-created (the only related name is Daraxus Dax, a one-shot X-Men villain who is dead)
  • Paulie - also likely show-created (the only comic-related character is Paulie Provenzano, a short-lived X-Men character who is now deceased)
  • Weems - show-created (all the Weems in Marvel are superpowered characters unsuited to the Punisher)

The first casting announcement for The Inhumans has come through, as Game of Thrones star Iwan Rheon will play Maximus the Mad (so, presumably, quite similar to his role as Ramsay Bolton in the HBO show).

Cloak & Dagger leads have been announced with Olivia Holt (who got her start with Disney and is known for Kickin' It) as Dagger and Aubrey Joseph (with fewer credits, last in The Night Of) as Cloak.  This runs contrary to the rumour MCU Exchange posted not long before (suggesting Noah Gray-Cabey and Debby Ryan).  Holt doesn't really fit how I picture Dagger, but ultimately her performance matters more than that.  There's since been additional casting announcements, filling out the roles of the parents among others (suggesting at least some changes to the comic book origin).

The main Runaways cast was announced:
Rhenzy Feliz (Casual) as Alex Wilder
Lyrica Okano (most recently The Affair) as Nico Minoru
Virginia Gardner (most recently Secrets and Lies) as Karolina Dean
Ariela Barer (most recently One Day at a Time) as Gert Yorkes (a race swap as Gert is white in the comics)
Gregg Sulkin (extensive credits, most recent series Faking It) as Chase Stein
Allegra Acosta (best known from 100 Things to do Before High School) as Molly Hernandez (a race swap as Molly Hayes is white in the comics)
Since then the parents have also been cast (unlike those in Cloak & Dagger these have significance in the comic).

The rumour for a Namor the Submariner movie/show has picked up steam in a short time.  After the initial speculation came this Tweet from the Daredevil Twitter feed that could hint at it (you can see the partially blurry headline "New Theories Shed Light on Lost City"--but that could easily refer to something else--Attilan (Inhumans), K'un-Lun (Iron Fist), etc).  That was followed by this seeming confirmation from Production Weekly (when that broke it was suggested it could be John Ridley's secret project for ABC).  There's been no official word from Marvel about it, so we don't know if it's actually happening and, if so, whether it's a movie or a show (here you can see various ideas if it's a movie).  Armin from Comic Book Cast 2 speculates that it's a TV show since a movie already in production would need a release date--it would also necessarily have to be part of Phase Three and there's no evidence of that, so I'm inclined to agree with him.  One has to wonder if Namor will be another IMAX project ala the Inhumans.  If it is a show it would also get around any distribution rights Universal may still hold (my guess is that that's no longer an issue for Marvel, but we don't have absolute confirmation in that regard).  I've also seen it argued that what's being filmed is a pilot, in which case it might never see the light of day.

There's a great piece describing Ike Perlmutter's rise to power and influence at Marvel along with his interference before being taken away from the movie side of the business (in terms of what was new to me: the former I hadn't seen detailed, while the movie-related info has been out there for quite some time).  I think it's well worth reading, however, it's clear the article was completed months ago (probably early fall of 2016), despite having a publication date of February 20th, 2017.  My evidence for this: "Vanity Fair reported early in April of last year [my emphasis]," referencing this 2015 article; the comments indicating no knowledge of an Inhumans TV show (announced in November), Marvel Entertainment's cooperation with X-Men TV shows (Legion's beginnings date back to 2014), Perlmutter's role as a Trump adviser (January), the X-Men rebirth in the comics (fall), etc.  As interesting as it is to see what came before, I'm far more interested in what's happening now at Marvel, particularly when the gist of the article is focused on the interplay between the movie MCU and what's happening on television.  A more nitpicky point: Tilda Swinton's casting seems less like Perlmutter and more a matter of appealing to the Chinese market (for those who don't know, the Ancient One was originally Tibetan and the issue of Tibet is something the Chinese government is particularly sensitive about).  Director Scott Derrickson had a very articulate reason for the change unrelated to either reason, and barring actual evidence he is lying, I think we must accept what he said.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

No comments:

Post a Comment