The latest Marvel Netflix series introduces Danny Rand, the titular Iron Fist to modern audiences. Originally introduced in the 70’s as a Caucasian boy raised to be a warrior among monks after his family was brutally killed and ultimately earning the power to make his fist glow, he returns to the modern world to fight crime. The thin central plot of Iron Fist centers around Danny’s search for himself and this idea carries through the show as his character seems jarringly out of place in every scene. Unfortunately, despite being the central thread, nothing ever seems to be developed and audiences are left wondering, even at the end, what in Danny Rand is worth caring about. Traits central to Danny Rand’s character from the source material: calmness, easy-going attitude, and noticeably measured interactions with other characters are almost universally poorly portrayed by Finn Jones or left out by the writers altogether. Too often, his character is juvenile, temperamental and shows little growth even by the end of the season. You end the show feeling no progress has been made by any of the characters besides Tom Pelphrey’s troubled bully Ward Meachum. Holistically, the show isn’t much better as plot and writing unpolished or lazy at best. I can’t seem to recommend it to anyone, even as an introduction to the Iron Fist character, who will be important to the next series, The Defenders.
The only scenes that hold on to your interest are the fight scenes and scenes involving Jessica Henwick’s Colleen Wing. The fight scenes are few and far between and Henwick’s strong Asian female martial artist, although both series strong points, are not developed effectively. Fight scenes show Danny’s “immortal weapon” Iron Fist struggling to fight opponents that shouldn’t be any problem for a master of his caliber. Colleen Wing, although initially introduced as a strong, independent Asian woman that lives solely on her own terms, is relegated shortly after as primarily a love interest to Rand. Her decisions thereafter are manipulated by Rand through money or coercion and their relationship and romance seem forced, as the only way he allows any romance is through force and on his terms. As a result, all the decisions she makes regarding him become out of character as she must submit to his needs. It makes for boring and insulting storytelling. The formula is an antiquated romance trope that Hollywood uses and Marvel seemingly had left behind already. For both characters, if their behavior were deliberate as notes on their undeveloped maturity, it could be forgivable but the writing is so bad that it isn’t believable. Another lost opportunity for Marvel to be progressive and comes off as lazy writing.
With Iron Fist, it just seems Marvel didn’t spend any effort to really think about what and convey what makes Iron Fist who he is beyond a glowing fist and penchant for punching things. The credits roll and nothing has happened that leads you to believe Finn Jones’ character has really learned anything. It all feels like an obligatory introduction for the purposes of having Iron Fist in the Defenders. As a piece of the history of the visual medium, Iron Fist earns a measly 1 star out of five from me for being perpetually uninteresting in plot and character besides the aforementioned Colleen Wing.
Final Decision: Noticeably poor writing and characterizations leaves the show boring and often insulting to modern audiences, with nothing worth really investing 13 hours on. Pass on this one and just google the characters before jumping into the Defenders.
Guest contribution by Victor Nguyen
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