Apr 7, 2017

[TV] Marvel's Iron Fist: Season 1

After the horrors of the Daredevil and Elektra movies, it was easy to be skeptical of Netflix's initial foray into creating shows for various Marvel Knights characters. But Daredevi was brilliant and Jessica Jones was amazing and Luke Cage was a solid television experience. With the whole lead-up to the whole Defenders team-up series reaching a fever pitch, expectations were high for the last member of the group.

But Iron Fist was in trouble from the very beginning. Whitewashing issues aside, the fact that they case someone with no martial arts experience to portray a character who was essentially a kung-fu master in his own right. This was a major misstep that just setup the whole series for failure really.

It didn't help that the actor that they did cast as the Iron Fist wasn't all that impressive as an actor. And then we have a weird plot that was oddly reminiscent of the likes of Arrow in a very bad way. I really wanted this show to be better than it was and I tried to ignore all the negative reviews as we tried to work through the first season. It was a struggle but we made it but it didn't change our minds about how the show was.

Synopsis: Marvel's Iron Fist is a Netflix comic book drama series created by Scott Buck as based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name. The first season of 13 episodes is a Netflix original exclusive.

The series pretty much begins with Danny Rand (Finn Jones) returning to New York after everyone had believed him dead in plane crash 15 years ago. He first tries to waltz right back into his family's company, Rand Enterprises. There he is met with some resistance by Ward (Tom Pelphrey) and Joy (Jessica Stroup) Meachum, former childhood friends who have now taken the reins of the company after their father died. Initially they're in denial about him actually being Danny given the lack of supporting evidence.

During his absence Danny had been taken in by the city of K'un-Lun and had risen up the ranks to become its greatest champion, the Iron Fist. However the traditional role of the Iron Fist is to guard the gates of K'un-Lun from its enemies, particularly rival groups like The Hand. There a lot left unexplained as to why he has chosen to come home now and what has become of his responsibilities as the Iron Fist. At the same time The Hand remains active in New York's drug trade.

What I Liked: Night Nurse / Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson) remains the voice of reason in these Netflix shows and perhaps the best reason to watch Iron Fist. She's smart, practical, and pretty much the audience voice here asking all the right questions when plans seem silly or too risky. She's had the most exposure to super-powered individuals and she knows that only trouble can follow in their way. But she's still a heck of a lot of fun.

Then I supposed we need to talk about Madam Gao (Wai Ching Ho), the only truly worth adversary in this series and one who gets a lot of character development. We've seen her on and off again in the other shows, mainly Daredevil, but we really see her in her element. And more than her being this leader of a criminal faction, she's also a formidable warrior her self.

What Could Have Been Better: Finn Jones does a terrible job of selling us on the idea that he is a master of kung-fu. Without getting into his lousy form or his super cut heavy fight scenes, just count the number of times he says that he has mastered the ways of kung-fu then immediately struggles to defeat Hand ninjas  or to maintain his focus. For a man who has grown up in a monastic environment with extensive martial arts training, Danny is highly emotional to the point that his very memories of the past seem to cause him physical pain. How he managed to become the Iron Fist despite these handicaps is beyond me

The Meachums are such a drain on this story and you end up hating them as characters instead of hating them as villains. They are just the worst and every scene they're in seems to make all of time slow to a crawl. They're not evil - they're just annoying.

TL;DR: Marvevl's Iron Fist is obviously the weakest of the Netflix Defenders-related shows given it's odd casting, bad fight scenes and convoluted plot. Davos gets one of the best lines in the show: "You are the worst Iron Fist ever!". Thus the show's first season gets 2 barely used Iron Fist chi-empowered punches out of a possible 5.


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