To See or Not to See: Iron Fist
Before its release on March 17, Iron Fist took a beating from critics. Some went as far as calling it one of the worst new shows of 2017. So the question on everyone’s mind: Is it really that bad? The short answer is no. Does it live up to the standards set by the other Defenders? We wouldn’t go so far as to say that. But Iron Fist does eventually find its chi. You’ll just have to endure a few punches along the way (about eight episodes to be exact).
Iron Fist tells the story of billionaire Danny Rand and his return to New York City, following a plane crash that’s believed to have killed him, his mother, and his father. But Danny Rand is a survivor—the lone survivor, in fact. His body is discovered by two monks, who take him to the mystical city known as K’un-Lun. There, he spends more than ten years training to become the Iron Fist. His purpose? To protect the gates of K’un-Lun.
We understand the importance of a character’s backstory, but at times it feels like Netflix and Marvel are hitting us over the head with it. We get it. We do. But we don’t need to see flashbacks in almost every episode, and certainly not ones that add no value to the story. That said, Finn Jones brings Danny’s boyish innocence to life. While his character’s climb to power has been ridiculed by the press, drawing similarities to our current political climate, you can’t help but feel for Danny’s struggle as he tries to reconnect with his friends and the world. We’re alongside him as he sheds his naive outlook on life and realizes that not everyone has the best intentions—especially those closest to him.
The supporting cast does a fine job in their respective roles, but they fail to build an emotional connection with viewers until later in the season. At the beginning, they feel uninspired, one-dimensional, and well, basic. We have the childhood friends who have succumbed to their ruthless ambitions and the kind-hearted love interest who teaches martial arts to underprivileged youth. But if you stick with the series, you’ll soon learn that there’s more than meets the eye. It’s a shame that it doesn’t happen sooner.
There are some familiar faces from the Defenders’ universe that we’ve come to love (and fear). This includes the extraordinary Rosario Dawson, who plays Claire. Here, she provides sensible wisdom and humor. She asks all the questions that viewers are likely asking themselves. But we have a question for Claire: Why didn’t you introduce Danny Rand to the rest of the Defenders? She makes reference to her friends throughout Iron Fist, but never suggests they help, and instead throws herself into the fire. We’ll probably have our answer when The Defenders comes out later this summer. Another character that audiences will recognize is the villainous Madame Gao, portrayed by Wai Ching Hao. She only gets better with each series.
Admittedly, the first eight episodes are a slow burn, and there isn’t much to grasp onto. For us, it was Finn Jones. If he wasn’t the title character, and if it wasn’t Marvel, we likely wouldn’t have finished all 13 episodes. Also, we’re slightly confused about why Netflix would only release the first six episodes to the press. These episodes are the weakest in the batch—both flat and uneventful. By episode eight, the binge-watching magic is back, but we’re also left with many unanswered questions, including the reason Danny became the Iron Fist if he had no intentions of guarding the gate. Still, Netflix has whet our appetite. We’re more than ready for The Defenders.
★ ★ ½ out of 4
Photo Credit: Netflix