Marvel’s Iron Fist Review
I want to get one thing out of the way right now. Yes, the character of Danny Rand is outdated considering he was created to capitalize on the Kung Fu craze when nearly every outlet was creating the white guy does everything craze. I am in full agreement that Marvel could have and really should have changed the Danny Rand character into a yuppie Asian New York kid but that’s not what happened. This is the Danny Rand we have and he’s just fine and whether the character should have been white or Asian is the least of this shows problems.
Each episodes opens like every one of these Marvel shows do, there is a really beautiful opening of a martial arts performing a kata while a Daft Punk cop theme song plays. As the song builds up to a disappointing ending it turns into a coincidental warning to the audience on what they’re in for. Yes, the show is boring, irritatingly so considering Marvel’s track record with their build up to The Defenders.
Episode one opens up with Danny Rand returning to New York and trying to gain access to the building of his father’s company where he runs into the office of his childhood friends Ward Meachum (Tom Pelphrey) and Joy Meachum (Jessica Stroup) who have been running the company since their father passed away years ago. They don’t believe this hobo who has walked into their office is the real Danny Rand and in a odd way to develop this story line we spend the next three episodes toying with the idea that this man, potentially, could or couldn’t be the real Danny Rand. Which leads to a lot of nothing going on for a crucial amount of episodes that are supposed to pull you in, introduce you to the characters and plant the seeds for the overall story.
The slow pace finally picks up during the sixth episode, directed by RZA, when Danny agrees to a tournament to the death to save a young woman’s life and this martial arts action show actually starts to pick up and become a martial arts show. The fighting choreography gets better as it appears that Finn is finally able to settle in the character and his complicated moves but those first five episodes are a slog to get through.
The main problem with Iron Fist isn’t just the acting, everyone does pretty well, even Finn Jones who plays the title character is completely fine once things get going but it’s so late in the game and he’s struggling with scripts that make Danny the smartest man in the room one moment then a complete idiot the next just because the story calls for it.
The overall story is missing in parts, lacks direction, and focus on who the characters are and what they’re all trying to accomplish. There isn’t a clear line on who the main villain is through the entire series until the final episode. Madame Gao (Wai Ching Ho) returns in a much beefier role but doesn’t add much except a few lines giving you more insight on her character. There is also a leader that controls a small faction of The Hand, and that too, while leading to an exciting fight, still doesn’t finish strong.
Iron Fist fills more like the board members for Marvel TV just handed the keys over to some producers and writers and told them to come up with something just so they could round out their Netflix shows and move on. It feels like Arrow-lite, cheaper then cheap. There is a part when Danny and Colleen have to go to China and it’s clear they’re filming off a New York pier.
The characters do dumb things just because they need them to, things a normal person wouldn’t do let alone a highly trained martial artist. When Danny needs a key piece of evidence to prove he is the actual Danny Rand, he manages to get jumped by a man because they need him to lose this evidence. For a character that’s supposed to be a living weapon, he fights off several attackers at one point, then gets handled they next by some henchmen. One of the characters begins to inquire why they couldn’t just use his fingerprints from when he was a kid to which he responds that he never had his fingerprints taken. I had my fingerprints taken in the 80’s and I’m supposed to believe that two billionaires never bothered to have their son’s fingerprints taken fifteen-plus years ago?
Despite this, Iron Fist isn’t completely horrible, it does get better, it’s just that it takes such a long time to get going which leads no where is a huge letdown compared to the other shows and the weaker of the four. There isn’t a memorable fight like the hallway scenes from Daredevil, there isn’t a memorable villain like Kilgrave or Kingpin, or takes full advantage of its roots like Luke Cage, or has a message like Jessica Jones, but there is one shining light and that is Jessica Henwick who plays Colleen Wing.
Strong female characters aren’t always done well, most of the time, when someone tries to make a strong female character they don’t bother to make her a believable fighter. Henwick is the strongest part about Iron Fist and a great addition to the Marvel Netflix shows. When she fights you believe she is as dangerous as she’s portrayed. She gets hurt, she bleeds, she’s vulnerable, but smart, tough, and sexy without being forced to wear some ridiculous costume that shows off her body and despite that she is the inevitable love interest, she doesn’t immediately fall for Danny.
I recommend Iron Fist if you’re curious in learning more about the last Defender, skip it if you couldn’t care less. There is nothing new here that you need to know that they won’t cover in The Defenders. This is the first, truly awful product Marvel has generated and I hope they learn their lesson leading into season 2 which, at this moment, I couldn’t care less about.