SINGAPORE - It is not as though the new Netflix superhero series Marvel's Iron Fist needed more brickbats.
The show featuring a Caucasian who is highly skilled in Asian martial arts has been accused of committing cultural appropriation, as well as being plain awful.
A poorly handled "press conference" held in Singapore on Friday (March 31) to promote the show left the local media fuming after they were not allowed to ask any questions.
Actor Finn Jones, who plays the lead character, and supporting cast members Jessica Stroup and Tom Pelphrey attended the event with Iron Fist creator and showrunner Scott Buck.
The ban on questions at the press event was presumably to protect them from having to answer tough ones.
But The Straits Times asked a question anyway, despite attempts to stop it: How do they deal with bad reviews?
Jones, 29, said: "From what I'm experiencing, people have been loving the show. From the people that I see on the street, there's been a hugely, overwhelmingly positive response from the fans and I'm very grateful for that."
Iron Fist, which is adapted from a Marvel comics series, has a 17 per cent approval rating on rottentomatoes.com and a score of 37 on metacritic.com.
Variety said: "Not one element of this plodding piece works. The action scenes lack spark, snap, and originality. None of the flat, by-the-numbers characters makes any lasting impression. And as origin stories go, the tale of Danny Rand (Finn Jones), at least as rendered by this creative team, is about as exciting as a slice of Velveeta cheese left out in the sun too long."
Jones plays the role of Danny Rand, who was presumed to have died in a plane crash at 15. Not only did he survive, he becomes a martial arts expert who is able to call on the power of the Iron Fist. Fifteen years later, he returns to New York to find that his childhood friends Joy (Jessica Stroup) and Ward Meachum (Tom Pelphrey) are less than thrilled to see him back.
While doing press in the United States, Jones and actress Jessica Henwick, who plays Rand's ally, have had to talk about whether a white gongfu superhero - and one mangling the pronunciation of Mandarin words at that - amounted to the misappropriation of elements of Asian culture.
But in Singapore, the two emcees hosting the event lobbed soft questions and steered clear of anything negative or controversial.
Jones said: "I love the comics, they're really beautifully written. I like the fantasy and mystical elements and they go there a lot more.
"I've got a huge stack of them at the end of my bed and every now and again when I go to sleep I would just grab one."
Unfortunately, the local press did not get a chance to ask him if he found the narrative problematic.