American Cinematographer - April 2017 - 52
Cinematographer Manuel Billeter
keeps the action grounded for
Iron Fist, Netflix's latest entry in the
Marvel superhero lineup.
By Noah Kadner
n contrast to the Marvel Cinematic Universe's featurelength entries, which focus on global-scale heroes such as
Captain America and Iron Man as they face world-threatening villains, the Marvel series that stream on Netflix
spotlight more modest, street-level heroes, all of whom call
New York City their home. The latest series, Iron Fist, joins
Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage; the titular heroes of all
four of these shows will soon be seen teaming up in the series
Iron Fist chronicles the adventures of Danny Rand
(Finn Jones), a Buddhist monk and kung fu master who
seemingly returns from the dead to claim his birthright as the
billionaire heir to Rand Enterprises. He finds allies in dojo
master Colleen Wing ( Jessica Henwick) and childhoodbuddies-turned-ambivalent-supporters Joy and Ward
Meachum ( Jessica Stroup and Tom Pelphrey, respectively).
Danny also channels the mystical power of the Iron Fist to
gain the upper hand against ruthless attackers inside and
outside the boardroom.
Cinematographer Manuel Billeter shot all but one of
the first season's 13 episodes; second-unit director of photography Chris LaVasseur took the reins of the main unit for the
other episode. Billeter's previous Netflix credits include Jessica
Jones and Luke Cage in the Marvel-verse, as well as Orange Is
the New Black. "I was a known entity, and the producers
wanted me to continue the collaboration," the cinematographer offers. "I met with [series showrunner and executive
producer] Scott Buck and we saw eye to eye. I had also worked
with [director] John Dahl on Jessica Jones."
Dahl was on board to direct Iron Fist's first two