Written By: Nick Poulimenakos, featuring a rant by JJ Simoes
The Netflix corner of the MCU can only be considered as a huge success. Telling grittier, darker stories, the street level heroes residing in the MCU have been met with critical acclaim at every turn. This past Friday, Marvel released the first season of Iron Fist, the final show leading up to the anticipated miniseries, The Defenders and suddenly, all of that acclaim disappeared. I’m not even going to sugar-coat it… this show is horrible. It fails on just about every front imaginable. The series, created by Dexter’s Scott Buck, is so unremarkable that it actually felt like a chore to sit down and watch. So, without further-a-do, let’s get into why Iron Fist is atrocious.
Iron Fist follows the story of Danny Rand who been missing for 15 years following a plane crash that took the lives of his parents. Danny returns to his home state of New York with his newfound kung-fu abilities and the power of the mysterious Iron Fist with the intent to fight the criminal element that is impacting New York City.
The biggest problem that I think Iron Fist suffers from is the fact that its main character is wholeheartedly unoriginal. In today’s superhero climate, the “rich guy falls on bad times, learns imposing skills in a shadowy place and then returns to his hometown as a superhero” is the origin story for most of the popular heroes today. Doctor Strange, Iron Man and the T.V series Arrow all used the same trope. With Iron Fist, viewers are treated to the same drawn out story in the most uninteresting way possible. We actually get a string of episodes revolving around Danny vying to get his father’s company back, which would have been fine, had we gotten some Iron Fist action mixed in with it. But did we? No. No we did not.
Which brings me to my next point. The action. It’s awful. For a show that puts Marvel’s greatest martial artist at the forefront, it has some of the worst kung-Fu action I have ever seen. The season premiere alone showcases some outrageously lackluster action sequences. What’s confusing is when Marvel has a show like Daredevil (which is my favourite Netflix/MCU series) which includes some of the most amazingly choreographed action in the superhero genre, how do you end up with something like Iron Fist? They also barely showcase the power of the Iron Fist. That isn’t a lie. In a show called “Iron Fist,” Danny Rand uses his powers very rarely. He goes almost episodes without summoning them and when he does, it leads to another campy, classic Power Rangers-esque fight montage.
The weakest point of the show however is actually its story. Iron Fist suffers from an overstuffed, 13 episode series that could have easily been cut down into 8 concise episodes. Whether its the fact that the show has too many villains or its constant need to force Danny into situations where he can’t summon the Iron Fist, the series never truly knows what it wants to be. It also has the unfortunate task of setting up a good chunk of The Defenders story and it squanders it completely. The show opts to show Danny in the foreign environment of New York rather than give viewers a glimpse into his life in K’un L’un. We never truly know why Danny comes back or what his life was like when he was training.
Now, onto the characters. Iron Fist is led by Finn Jones in the eponymous role. Right from the start, it is evident that he is the weakest defender. Not in terms of powers, but in terms of acting ability. Jones portrays Danny as a bland, incompetent and gullible superhero. He barely has a personality, he shows almost no signs of interest in the story and he never quite knows what kind of hero Danny is. Now, that’s not all on Jones. It’s mainly on the writers. Danny is written as someone who is completely inconsistent, flip-flopping from hero to a vengeful within episodes which diminishes his overall character, leading viewers to wonder, why should they care about Danny Rand?
I need to specify that I don’t believe that Danny is the worst character. That title belongs to the villainous family, the Meachum’s. The brother/sister duo of Ward and Joy, played by Tom Pelphrey and Jessica Stroup respectively, are without a doubt, my least favourite characters in the entire MCU. Pelphrey’s performance as Ward has got to be some of the worst acting ever seen on screen. For the first six episodes, he never changes his tone of voice. Even in dire situations, he remains one-dimensional and boring. Joy Meachum, much like Danny, is as inconsistent as ever. One minute she likes Danny, the next she hates him. Then we have David Wenham, who plays their father Harold Meachum. I have never seen an actor so badly wasted before. Harold had the potential to be as villainous as previous Netflix/MCU villains but terrible writing and questionable storylines stop this from happening. Still, I’ll say that Wenham was one of the few positives of the show.
Alright, let’s get to some positives. If Iron Fist does anything right, it’s the women of the show, minus Joy Meachum. Jessica Henwick stars as Colleen Wing and she is an absolute badass. Every time she is on screen, she steals the scene. Despite some underwhelming dialogue, she is a part of the better action sequences in the show and Henwick portrays the fiery tenacity and internal struggle of Wing exceptionally. Rosario Dawson returns as Netflix mainstay, Claire Temple and once again proves how great she is as an actress. Temple proved to be a great fold for both Colleen and Danny and gave the show some much needed levity.
Okay one last thing before I let JJ rant. THEY DON’T USE THE SUIT. I get why I guess; Danny is not really a hero yet. But still, I want the classic Iron Fist suit.
And now for your reading pleasure, here’s JJ ranting about what he hates about Iron Fist:
I am sick of characters in science fiction/fantasy universes that question things. Thor exists, Hulk exists, aliens invade earth, sentient robots attempted to kill the human race, the leader of the most advanced nation in the world wears a catsuit and Vision is a thing. I have a very serious problem when characters who exist in these world question something when it seems fantastical. Maybe don’t believe blindly, but don’t assume its bullshit. Because thunder gods join superhero teams financed by a billionaire in a mechanical suit that battle alien invaders. It’s cute in phase one, but now it just gets on my nerves.
The show lacks any and all momentum. It doesn’t make you want to see more, the lead is bland and just not right for the role, the action is something out of Power Rangers, the characters are basic and the main plot is derivative of almost every superhero who trained away from their home. I’m waiting for Iron Fist (which he rarely fucking uses) to say, “You have failed this city”, as Arrow did this story better in its first season.
Nick’s Rating – 5.5/10
JJ’s Rating – 3.5/10
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