If I was going to attempt to fix Iron Fist (something no one has asked me to do), I’d have started by changing Danny Rand into an Asian American, who crash landed with his family in the Himalayas, learned kung fu, and came back to America to fight evil ninjas.
At the very least, I would’ve cast an actual martial artist.
This is why an established or up and coming Asian action actor would’ve been great. They’d already have the chops. Even better, I’d hire an established stunt team to be part of the show. This would do two things. It’d give the show a great technical foundation to start with, and it would’ve given it much needed credibility.
Sure, fanboys would’ve complained, but, honestly, screw ’em. Danny Rand’s whiteness is not intrinsic to the character. What is interesting is his outsider nature. He can have that as an American-born Asian, and even better, he could have it in both the U.S. and his Himalayan second home. An outsider in two worlds would be very cool to explore.
Also, I’d drop the whole corporate angle. I’d just have Danny be rich, come back, and dealing with ninjas. Straight up, ninjas from the get go. And not like he’s surprised ninjas are operating in New York, but like he specifically came to take on The Hand.
Maybe The Hand stole an artifact from K’un Lun. Maybe their leader is a renegade master from K’un Lun, and Danny is honorbound to stop that master from bringing the martial arts secrets of K’un Lun to the outside world where they can do great damage.
Danny would also be freakin’ amazing at kung fu. He’d mow down a dozen armed men without breaking a sweat. It would only be when confronted by truly exceptional foes that he would ever break out his mystical iron fist. And even then, it wouldn’t be a “win” button. It’d be his skill in using it that solved the problem.
Stylistically, Iron Fist should be a much more aggressive show in its action elements. I know that Marvel on Netflix has this slow burn idea that bores the crap out of me, but it seems to work for most people. But by now, we’ve all seen it. Iron Fist could be the show that brings the action, raises the superhero stakes by focusing on the action more than any previous show. It won’t be considered as “smart”, but it could bring martial arts brilliance to the mainstream.
And that’s how I’d fix Iron Fist.