3 of the 4 coveted “Defenders” have made their way to Netflix serving as an introduction to the street level heroes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Or so we’re made to believe that Matthew Murdock, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage are all in Kevin Feige’s vision. A few throwaway lines here and there about the battle of New York suggest they are but ultimately no one in the films have ever mentioned a blind lawyer representing a man by the name of Frank Castle. The same can be said about Agents of Shield – no matter how many times the larger MCU is mentioned, the tv world and the film world are two separate entities.
13 episodes a season for each Marvel Netflix show has proved tedious to watch for the first 3 series but even more so for Iron Fist. It’s nothing compared to the 22- or 24-episode seasons of Arrow or The Flash which in their own right feel like a lifetime getting through them but Iron Fist is downright impossible to sit through willingly. It’s a chore to watch knowing the greatness that has come previously and what is to come next. Season 1 of Marvel’s Iron Fist reminds me of getting homework on a Friday night, being binded by responsibility while your friend group goes out to party and have a good time. Plain and simple, Iron Fist is just not good.
Danny Rand (Finn Jones) survives a plane crash where his parents didn’t on a tip overseas. Surviving for 15 years in a mythical place called K’un-Lun where he trained to be the immortal Iron Fist. Returning to New York and a life he once knew, Danny encounters setbacks from childhood friends Joy (Jessica Stroup) and Ward Meachum (Tom Pelphrey) in rejoining the company his father Wendell (David Furr) and Harold Meachum (David Wenham) built.
The concept of Iron Fist is nothing original. Billionaire family that gets murdered, this time in a plane crash over the Himalayas compared to Crime Alley, the son gets powers to avenge their parents’ deaths while fighting crime simultaneously. Difference between Bruce Wayne and Danny Rand is the Iron Fist that Danny proved himself worth of and he feels it’s necessary to remind everyone he encounters that he is, in fact, the Immortal Iron Fist. Bruce Wayne never has to announce that he’s Batman to anyone, you just know it to be true when watching a Batman centric story. Whats the point of having a secret identity if the identity is not so secret?
Iron Fist is riddled with problems all stemming from the writing of its title character. Finn Jones, coming off his performance as Lorys Tyrell in Game of Thrones is ok as Danny, he tries, really tries to give a performance on the level of Charlie Cox, Krystin Ritter and Mike Colter but ultimately doesn’t come close to the bar that was set by his fellow Defenders. And speaking of Defender’s its no secret that this was the culmination event of the street level heroes, the problem is getting through Iron Fist. The first season isn’t vital to watching the Defenders mini-series, but as a completionist, you may want to check it out. Fair warning – it’s a bumpy ride that never gets its feet out from underneath itself.
Daredevil has Wilson Fisk, Jessica Jones has the Purple Man, Luke Cage has Cottonmouth & Diamondback and Iron Fist has – well I don’t know who the main villain of the series is. Is it Ward and Joy from not believing the truth when it’s shoved down their throats (maybe they’re in severe denial), is it the Hand that has caused an issue in Daredevilseason 2’s B storyline and Bakuto (Ramón Rodríguez) or the jealous Davos (Sasha Dhawan) or is it Harold Meachum? It all boomerangs back to poor writing that never develops any of its main cast of characters and the performances struggle because of it. Finn plays Danny as whiney rich boy whose only out to reclaim his fortune. He’s barefoot, unkempt, and annoying with how he can never center his Chi to summon the Iron Fist.
Where Iron Fist shines is in its supporting roles. Returning is Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson) who brings 110% to her role as the connective tissue between the 4 Defender’s. Jeri Hogarth (Carrie-Anne Moss) also makes her presence known as Danny’s Lawyer but the true star of Iron Fist season 1 is Colleen Wing (Jessica Henwick). Jessica outshines Finn in almost every scene they are in together as a dojo owner and a phantom member of the Hand under Bakuto.
Beyond Henwick, Dawson, Moss and even Stroup in extreme cases, Iron Fist is a misfire. It’s a steppingstone, a level in a game in which the developers didn’t know how to complete the story and just threw something together haphazardly. If the Netflix series were a group project, Iron Fist is the kid who didn’t contribute to the project at all and still got an A. Finn Jones’s talent is wasted here.
Acting, writing and performances aside, the action and fighting is completely watered down compared to Daredevil. The stunts don’t dazzle the way they are promised, and the action sequences are completely flat. Again, it looks to be a chore to the actor and actresses when using Kung Fu. Danny is supposedly the master of Kung-fu – this iteration of him doesn’t measure up to how stylish a fighting scene involving some type of mixed martial art should be presented.
Iron Fist starts at a slow pace and never picks up any traction or speed. By the time the season finale hits, it’s all a blur of one long scene, nothing standing out among anything else. There’s a ton of potential behind the series but in the execution of it all is where the ball is dropped.
Marvel is batting .750 currently with its Netflix shows. Iron Fist can and should be skipped if going through the universe that has be infinitely darker in tone than the proper MCU. But if you’re a completionist like I am, watching this first season is not an ideal time to spend when you could just skip to the Defenders. An introduction to a key character in the comics who makes up half of the Heroes for Hire is better than nothing at all, right?
Created By: Scott Buck
Music By: Trevor Morris
Starring: Finn Jones, Tom Pelphrey, Jessica Stroup, Ramón Rodríguez, Sacha Dhawan, Rosario Dawson, Jessica Henwick
Where to Watch: Netflix
Release Date: March 17, 2017
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 20%
My Score: 1 out of 5
Based On: Iron Fist created by Roy Thomas & Gil Kane