I have to admit, despite all of the negative stuff surrounding Iron Fist, part of me was excited to see it. I didn’t know anything about the Iron Fist hero, but I liked Finn Jones who plays the titular role of Danny Rand. I was excited to see him in a more meaty role rather than just playing a side character. It was exciting too to see a martial arts based Marvel show, having had an, albeit brief, background in them myself.
What a letdown it was.
I wanted to like Iron Fist, I really did. It wasn’t even any of the controversial stuff that made it almost impossible to watch. It was that it was so, SO boring. The show moves along at snail’s pace for the first four episodes, covering in four episodes what Daredevil covered in one. Even when the pacing speeds up, the main storyline doesn’t become any more interesting, only more confusing.
On top of that, Danny Rand is one of the least charismatic lead characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in general. He veers between two moods, psychotically chipper and teen angst, and very rarely demonstrates anything else. He also consistently fails to recognise how stupidly privileged he is, and while that’s adorable at first, it quickly becomes cringe-worthy. Many people have also drawn attention to the fact that in a show about martial arts, the martial arts master (Danny) is kinda crap. I don’t think that’s fair, as Finn Jones had significantly less time training than any of his Defenders counterparts, stating that the choreography of some fights was taught to him in fifteen minutes flat. It does point to the main thing wrong with Iron Fist though; the whole thing feels rushed.
Iron Fist is ultimately a direct lead up to the story of the Defenders, and it feels like it. Defenders was already being hyped up as Luke Cage arrived on Netflix. It was the show everyone was waiting for, and very few people were excited for Iron Fist by comparison. As a result, it feels like a lot less effort was put into everything from the casting (sorry David Wenham, I love you, but I don’t buy you as a villain), to the stunts, to the writing. Particularly the writing.
The worst part of the whole thing is Iron Fist could have been a good show. Some of the characters are absolutely brilliant, particularly Danny’s first friend after his return to New York, Colleen Wing (Jessica Henwick). She’s complex. She’s strong. She’s an insanely talented martial artist. Ultimately she’d make a much better main character than Danny does. There’s also the additions of Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson) and Jeri “J-Dog” Hogarth (Carrie-Ann Moss) from previous Netflix Marvel series. We get to see the stronger side of Claire, actually being the person who knows what she’s doing while the superhero is an amateur, and a significantly softer side of Jeri, actually showing affection for once in her life.
If the creators (Scott Buck and M. Raven Metzner) had changed the focus of the show slightly or been able to spend more time on it, who knows, they could have had a success on their hands. As it is, Iron Fist fell flat and has been panned by critics. Ultimately I think its first series will only be remembered as a lead into Defenders. Hopefully, there’s something better planned for the second one.