Welp. The critics are wrong. Kind of. Marvel’s Iron Fist isn’t the weakest Netflix Marvel series — in fact, I’d rank it higher than Luke Cage and maybe even Jessica Jones — but it’s still pretty… meh.
Let’s break down what worked and what didn’t. THERE WILL BE SPOILERS.
Clearly, the star of this show is Colleen Wing. Her presence didn’t really make sense outside of being the love interest and the eye candy for the first half of the show, but once Bakuto’s faction of The Hand came into play, Colleen’s character arc instantly went from filler to something that actually mattered.
Jessica Henwick is amazing as an outcast samurai. I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed watching the series if she didn’t kick all kinds of ass. There better be a Daughter/s of the Dragon series being planned.
Ah, the Meachums. They started out as bland, antagonistic supporting characters, but all their family’s baggage and drama surprisingly paid off rather well by the end of the series.
Joy Meachum spent her entire life being overlooked by her father, being coddled by her brother, and being manipulated by both. If that wasn’t enough, the arrival of Danny Rand basically destroys her privileged life. She’s a woman struggling to keep her dark side at bay, but the men in her life just constantly pushes her to break. One bullet later and she’s done with the men. In the end, she teams up with Davos probably to concoct something diabolical. Iron Fist is Joy’s super-villain origin story.
Ward Meachum spent his entire life being a jerk to everyone except Joy and he’s willing to do anything to make daddy proud. He’s his father’s chosen one but he’s actually just a puppet. He wants to break free from the corporate life and his father’s tough (fake) love, but he doesn’t get to achieve half of that until he kills his father — twice. He fights through addiction and loses. His sister has to get shot before he turns things around for himself and Danny. Iron Fist is Ward’s story of triumph, tragedy, and redemption.
To Leonidas and the brave 300… I mean, screw you, Ward! I don’t love you.
Harold Meachum monologues people to death. He only cares about Joy and himself. He treats everybody else like shit or he just manipulates them until they’re no longer useful to him. He constantly reminds everyone that he was in 300 with his ridiculous speech cadence. Whether you hate him for talking like a cartoon super-villain or for his dastardly deeds, we can say that he’s an effective antagonist. Iron Fist is Harold’s story of straight up being an asshole.
The Meachums are great.
Every scene with Jeri “J-Money” Hogarth is fantastic. Carrie-Ann Moss brings humor to the show, which sounds weird, but she does. I can’t get enough of her. She needs to be in ALL of shows.
Finn Jones/Danny Rand/Iron Fist
Ugh. I had high hopes for Jones as Danny Rand. He’s good portraying Danny as a zen homeless person, but as a warrior monk? He moves like a wimp throughout the series with a few exceptions.
I don’t have a problem with Danny’s actual story arc. I think it was a pretty solid arc with a good, albeit by-the-numbers, story of finding purpose and struggling with his urge for vengeance, but Jones just doesn’t deliver.
Whether it’s the writers’ fault or Jones’, the Danny Rand character lacks depth and likability. While Charlie Cox as Daredevil, Krysten Ritter as Jessica Jones, and Mike Colter as Luke Cage are products of exceptional casting, Finn Jones as Iron Fist is just a total misfire.
We wanted this:
But we basically got this:
If there’s something critics and fans can agree on, it’s the fact that the fight scenes in Marvel’s Iron Fist are garbage — lackluster at best. If this was Luke Cage or Jessica Jones, dull fight scenes would be fine. But this is a show about a kung fu-based character who was supposedly been trained for 15 years by warrior monks in a mystical city. Iron Fist should look and move like a martial arts expert, but we only get underwhelming fights that look amateurish.
Colleen Wing definitely has the best action scenes, but those aren’t mind-blowing either. Fights get better eventually toward the end of the series, but it’s not enough to put this under the Meh category.
Awesome fight scenes should be a given for this show. They don’t need to be as gritty as those in Daredevil, but they shouldn’t look like early stunt rehearsals. Come on.
Iron Fist has the WORST. FLASHBACKS. EVER. How many times do we have to see Danny’s mom being sucked out of an airplane through a giant hole in the ceiling? Jesus. Also, those airplane flashbacks look horrible. They look out of place in the overall aesthetic of the show, even if the show looks brighter and more colorful than the other Netflix Marvel joints.
Personally, I don’t have a problem with exposition as long as it builds tension and/or character. However, Iron Fist suffers from too much of it. Case in point: when Danny and Colleen do recon at the docks, they can’t stop talking about their feelings. You’re supposed to be stealthy and ninja-like, guys. Save all the talk after you’ve investigated what’s in those trucks!
While some exposition work, there are just parts where it’s excessive, especially in the first few episodes. But hey, at least they’re talking about dead parents, a mystical city, warrior monks, secret ninja organizations, and an undying dragon.
Is that… is that our rating on Rotten Tomatoes?!
Ahh, the Nick Fury of the Defenders. We certainly get a lot of Claire “Not the Night Nurse” Temple here, but she doesn’t really get her own character arc. Which is fine, I guess. She gets to participate in a couple of missions, which is great, but she doesn’t really add anything except the voice of reason, which goes to waste because nobody ever listens to reason in this show — or in any of the other Marvel shows, TBH.
Now Davos actually adds a wrinkle in the proceedings. He’s a link to Danny’s time in K’un Lun and he adds a brotherly antagonistic flavor to Danny’s story, but he’s more of a taste of things to come in a second season or the Defenders series rather than a major player in Iron Fist.
I like how there are different factions within The Hand. Madame Gao heads the drug dealing faction while Bakuto leads the self-improvement faction. Sadly, we don’t see how scary The Hand truly is. We don’t see undead ninja like in Daredevil‘s second season, which is a shame. Or maybe we don’t see them because they’re ninja?
While Iron Fist infuriates me when characters talk about awesome things like how Danny became the Iron Fist — it involves hugging a dragon — but never shows it, I still like the show. They wasted the opportunity of being the most fun Marvel series on Netflix, but it’s nowhere near as horrible as early reviews would have us believe.
Unlike Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage, where momentum is lost somewhere in the second half of the series, Iron Fist starts slow — reaaaally slow — but methodically builds up all the way to the office-shattering end.
Not totally bad, not totally good, just meh. I give Marvel’s Iron Fist 3 out of 5 ninja throwing stars.