I’m a Marvel fan. I read Strange as a kid, I’ve watched all the MCU movies, the Marvel shows on ABC (Agent Carter, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), and all the Marvel shows on Netflix. Even before Iron Fist’s release date was announced, I knew I’d be watching it as soon as it came out.
It’s been out for a few months now; I think spoilers are fine now so it’s time for a quick review! If you haven’t watched it yet be warned: spoilers ahead!
tl;dr: I was a bit disappointed.
I’ve really enjoyed the other Marvel shows on Netflix so far. Daredevil is dark and violent, doesn’t pull any punches. It shows all sides of Hell’s Kitchen. I could connect to Jessica Jones, her problems, her daily struggles, her approach to her situation and to superpowers in general. From the actors to the soundtrack, Luke Cage was very nicely done; it all fit together perfectly. Everything was intense, fast, emotional. And it made a great statement about Black culture in the US.
Iron Fist, on the other hand, felt really just like any other mainstream TV show. It constantly reminded me of Arrow. Even the soundtrack was forgettable. Nothing really set it apart from the other dozen of trendy superhero shows we’ve seen on TV in the past few years.
I guess it is harder to be different when your main character / hero is just another rich American white kid. For the whole season, Danny Rand either hangs out with other rich white folks like the Meachums or acts condescendingly with folks from minorities that have trouble making the end of the months. It’s hard to feel Danny’s struggle, to connect to him. Everything seems to come easy for him. Most of his struggles are probably behind him, back when he was the minority, struggling to survive as a kid and an outsider in K’un Lun. I think it would have been nice to see flashbacks from his time there to help us understand his struggle, to help us relate. But then again, it would have been just like in Arrow.
When you think about it, Danny Rand is often a jerk to those around him. He often comes off as a spoiled teenager instead of someone friendly and smart. This young billionaire doesn’t fit with the other heroes of the Marvel universe. Take Tony Stark for example, another famous billionaire; he’s smart, he’s constantly joking, and he also acts as a father figure for some of the younger heroes. He brings something more to the universe.
Danny, on the other hand, only seems to bring the others around him down.
When I saw the first trailers, I was very happy to see Colleen. She seemed like she’d make a great secondary hero. And it all started very well. We discovered someone who was more than a good fighter. She was also a teacher. Better yet, she taught students who really needed it, and she taught them not only the sports, but also the ethics behind kung-fu. All the while not letting Danny disrespect her. I couldn’t root for the main hero, but I was 150% behind Colleen!
And yet, a few hours in she went against her own rules and the show barely acknowledged how hypocritical that was. Combined with her romantic relationship with Danny, it destroyed her character. I think there were other ways to explain her struggles and her anger. She could have been so much more than a romantic sidekick.
The quality of the dialogs didn’t help either. It was so bad at times that some episodes were really hard to watch (episode 9, ugh…).
Back to the drawing board then. Who can we root for in the series? There aren’t a lot of good guys left. Claire returns, but it’s clear it’s just because she has to appear in each one of the series.
I can’t really get behind one of the bad guys either: none of them are very appealing. The Meachums were just boring. I wish we would have seen more of Bakudo, he was a bit more interesting. Same with Madame Gao and her fighters; I get that her time will most likely come in Defenders, but she was the real bad guy in Iron Fist, she deserved more screen time.
Alright then. If none of the actors are interesting, if we get lost in boring side plots instead of focusing on the bad guys, at least we’ll get some kick-ass fight scenes right? It is the studio that brought us Daredevil and scenes like the one below, after all.
This time our hero is Iron Fist, the ultimate warrior, kung-fu master, trained for 15 years by monks for one purpose: fight. What could possibly go wrong?
What a let-down. Nothing intense, nothing realistic about the fights in Iron Fist. It’s so far from what it could be. At times he struggles in simple fights, and it makes the big fights less believable. His fighting skills are much like his mood: they come and go, like a teenager’s annoying voice change.
For someone who spent 15 years of his life learning to control his mind and body, he sucks.
Hopefully he will have all this figured out for Defenders, the final opus of Netflix’s Marvel superheroes. Iron Fist may do better as a side-kick, jumping in from time to time, while leaving other defenders lead the story. Fingers crossed.