“The last of the Defender has arrived, marred in controversy, and marking Marvel’s first big disappointment in the television space”
In episode 10 of Marvel’s Iron Fist, Madam Gao and Danny Rand have a conversation where she tells him that he’s just a child, too trusting for the world and broken beyond measure. That dialogue itself sums up the entirety of the show, riddled in disappointment and unsure of the story it wants to tell.
After a series of 3 consecutive successes (Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage), Marvel was due for a flop but Iron Fist takes that to a whole new level of dud. It is hard to believe that this is the same network that gave such brilliant shows which explored vigilantism, abuse and cultural politics and then gave us whatever Iron Fist is supposed to be.
The premise of the show is one we have already seen before. Rich billionaire gets lost in a different part of the world, gets abilities and then prodigal son returns to change his home. But unlike those stories, Iron Fist doesn’t know what he wants to do when he gets back to his hometown. While Batman wanted to bring justice to Gotham, Iron Man wanted to change the world, Dr. Strange wanted to be healed and heal, Iron Fist doesn’t know what purpose brings him to New York. Along with poorly written dialogue, excessive Buddhist knowledge dropping at random times, poor acting from the main character, bad villain story, terrible fight sequences mostly and overdone CGI, that is one of the many problems with the show.
The show suffers from a lack of identity and confusion of its source material. Here’s a man who has trained for 15 years at a mythical place in Kung-Fu and beaten a dragon to become a living weapon and yet, for the most part, gets his ass kicked almost every other fight. It doesn’t help that he can’t even get his fist up, half the time (sexual pun unintended). The fight sequences are quite bland, especially in the first few episodes and unlike the other 3 shows, it doesn’t wrap you in its plot to want to explore the next part. Even at their worst, the three other shows kept you invested and with Iron Fist, I had the feeling only at the end of episode 12.
There are plenty of easter eggs throughout the show. Jessica, Matt and Luke are mentioned or alluded to along with Karen Paige, Hulk, the Chitauri invasion and a fun cameo by Stan Lee.
There are some positives of the show as well. Jessica Henwick as Colleen Wing is the breakout character of the show. She has a charm, resilience and dedication to the craft that we have come to expect of Marvel’s Netflix characters and to be honest, the show would have been a lot better had it been about her instead of Danny Rand. Her story arc is well written and I would have liked if they developed and explored her backstory a lot more.
Carrie-Anne Moss returns as Jeri Hogarth and she brightens the screen every time she’s present. The same goes for Rosario Dawson who reprises her role as Claire Temple aka Night Nurse. Her role here is less damsel in distress and more of a partner-in-crime and its good to see her break character and explore a different badass part of Claire.
The actors who portray Ward and Joy Meacham are okay. There are moments where each shine and Ward’s character actually has a good story. The actor who portrays it can be a bit bland at times but it’s not the worst part about the show. Sacha Dhawan portrays Davos (Steel Serpent in the comics) and for the brief time he is there, shows the development of a very formidable enemy of Danny in the future and it would be fun to see how this friend-turned-enemy goes toe-to-toe against Danny.
The villains of the show suffer the most due to the script. Ramon Rodriguez’s Bakuto could have been a very formidable enemy but he talks a lot more than he fights. David Wenham’s Harold Meacham is a formidable villain with the ferocity, crazy, abusive and manipulative personality and I personally did enjoy Harold’s story arc.
The show leaves much to yearn about. This could have been such a good show and while I would watch a second season of it (should it happen), the showrunners need to do a thorough revamp of the characters and give Iron Fist some uniqueness and not a rehashed mashup of Batman/Iron Man.
Watch it if you must but it might not be worth it.