Starring: Finn Jones, Jessica Henwick, David Wenham, Jessica Stroup, Tom Pelphrey, Rosario Dawson
Marvel and Netflix team up once again to bring us the last hero of The Defenders, one of the most anticipated TV series of the year.
Marvel’s Iron Fist tells us the story of Danny Rand (Finn Jones), a young man that returns to New York after 15 years of absence to take control of his family’s business. However, his fate isn’t to rule his company but to take on his long-fated enemy, who will test his martial arts skills and the power of the Iron Fist.
Iron Fist is my less-known hero of the comics, so my expectations were not as high as they were with the other TV shows (Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage), but since the Marvel-Netflix partnership was always a huge success, I was never worried that the show would be a great disappointment … Well, I guess there’s a first time for everything.
I’ll still say it right away: the critics are being too harsh on the show. Yes, it has its flaws (a lot of them), but it’s not as bad as they are trying to prove. Let me start with the good things first.
My main praise for the show is actually for an actress: Jessica Henwick as Colleen Wing is absolutely awesome. Both of them are what elevate the series and what keeps it from being a total disaster. Henwick is by far the best casting choice for Colleen (if there’s one thing that Marvel usually does almost perfectly, is definitely the casting) and her character is super interesting and captivating. Her fight scenes are the best of the entire season and she’s more than compelling which makes me care for her during those action sequences.
In fact, the cast and their respective characters are what kept the show interesting for me: Jessica Stroup (Joy Meachum) and Tom Pelphrey (Ward Meachum) are excellent actors, Madame Gao (Wai Ching Ho) shows up a lot compared to the other TV shows from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and she’s always a welcome presence, as well as Davos (Sacha Dhawan) and Bakuto (Ramon Rodriguez) that make the last part of the season far better.
Everything else is pretty much flawed. Rosario Dawson is perfect as Claire Temple, but her character’s role is reduced to a simple medic in case of emergency to patch up our heroes. Previously, on Luke Cage, that problem was solved by giving Claire the depth and purpose that she deserves, while on Iron Fist that only happened in the last few episodes. Finn Jones didn’t convince me, I was very off and on with him and even if the writing for Danny Rand doesn’t help him, he’s by far Marvel‘s less successful casting choice for the main hero. It’s nothing to do with his race or color skin, it’s just his (un)ability to act.
The script is really bad, the writing for almost all of the characters is ridiculous at some points and the main plot isn’t well executed since most of the time the show becomes a soap opera about a company and its business. The Rand company subplot is something without a single shred of interest and the production team kept going back to that story, which bogged down the whole show. Another subplot that kept bringing the pacing down is about Harold Meachum (David Wenham) and his son’s family issues. David Wenham doesn’t have a performance worthy of an antagonist and Tom Pelphrey has to put up with silly writing and some incredibly dull moments.
The action scenes … God. Just awful. I couldn’t see Iron Fist / Danny Rand throw two punches in a row without a cut between them. They’re super choppy, completely off rhythm and the choreography looks like they’re dancing more than fighting. For a show about the “best of the world” of the martial arts, it doesn’t look like it. Not at all. The fight scenes are bad and just a few throughout the entire series … And the best ones aren’t even from the Iron Fist! What the hell?! What were they thinking?!
Finally, Danny Rand. The worst character of the show is the main one … Mostly due to the horrible script that Finn Jones received. Danny is supposed to be naive, but he’s just plain stupid from the very first episode to the last. I mean, he didn’t even grow as a character and learned from his mistakes, he kept saying “I am the Iron Fist, I am the Iron Fist” (with the worst possible expression from Finn Jones), his motivations are confusing and never seem to become more clear. In addition to this, the path that the production team decided to follow to tell the audience the origin story of Danny isn’t the best one as well … Honestly, by only judging the CGI used to show K’un-Lun in the mountains, a part of me is relieved that they didn’t go for a full origin story episode. It would probably be a total mess.
All in all, Marvel’s Iron Fist isn’t as bad as critics are saying it is, but it’s definitely the biggest disappointment from the Marvel-Netflixpartnership. A weak protagonist (Finn Jones is also guilty), a badly-executed main story with some boring subplots, not enough action scenes and the ones that exist are just horribly edited and choreographed. Plus a ridiculous script and the lack of an origin story prove that the show has a lot of flaws. However, Jessica Henwick as Colleen Wing is incredible and improves the series a lot, as well as some other characters that show up during the runtime of the show. The rest of the cast is really great and there are 3/4 episodes that entertained the hell out of me.