We’re doing something a little different here with this review, we’ve teamed up with Becky from Four Gamers HQ and Nadya of Gotham Geek Girl to bring you a three-part article all about the new Iron Fist Netflix series! This will be just our first impressions and we always do our best to keep spoilers marked and to a minimum.
So, for starters, I know absolutely NOTHING about this Iron Fist character other than he is a Caucasian male and apparently a part of the Marvel Universe. I had no idea what to expect, but I assumed from the trailers for the series that this new “hero” was going to be a comic-relief type guy; kind of dumb, quirky and in desperate need of training. NOPE. Right off the bat, this guy immediately initiates the whole “don’t judge a book by its cover” rule by showing his ample intelligence. Yes! Not only is he a handsome fellow, but a gentleman AND a scholar?! Seriously enjoying this character already.
As the story progresses there are obviously quite a few questions that come up right away: “Who is this guy? What happened to him and his family? Why did he come back?” and the like. As much as I kept hearing that the series supposedly starts off slow, I was hooked by the first episode. Not only were there enough questions to keep me guessing, but there was a good amount of pacing in the story to not get too much ahead of the plot itself (which typically makes people lose interest). But again, this may also be because I am being introduced to this character for the first time.
[Spoiler Warning]: The way they handled the psych ward was fantastic in the second episode! Not only was I uncomfortable, but I found myself internally screaming at the doctors “OMG STOP DRUGGING HIM!!!” Also, the fact that you get to see him use his Iron Fist power so early on is fantastic. If they waited any longer the plot would have dragged quite a bit, in my opinion. Also, the way they set up Danny’s character made you question your own sanity in a way. There were times I didn’t fully believe he was Danny, but the little realizations along the way made the journey to his true identity enjoyable.
Comparatively, I will say this series does seem to be the “oddball” or odd man out compared alongside the previous Netflix-Marvel stories. Danny is a bit of a wild card when placed with characters like Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Daredevil. Going into watching this is was also aware of the controversial “white-washing” claim placed on his character as well. From what I’ve been told, the character is in fact white in the original comics, so what’s the big deal? I honestly enjoy that he’s white, personally. Skin color isn’t a factor when you look like a hobo. He was sent to the psych ward for goodness sake! I just take it as he is a rare and cultures breed. I love the sophistication he portrays while appearing homeless with a nice balance of skill and strength. I can honestly say that this will be a series I will happily complete and possibly binge. Definitely worth giving a try!
Unfortunately, Iron Fist is mediocre at best.
My initial reaction was this series fails to impress. The first episode left me unamused and it literally knocked all the excitement and expectations I had out the window. I agree with a lot of what Douggary said about the series falling flat, and being the weakest of the Marvel Netflix series. Cage, Jones, and Daredevil (with a promising Punisher) have all delivered. The other series have been non-stop, action packed, well scripted, well produced and PERFECTLY cast. I was really hoping the same for this series. So, I also went in open-minded, ignoring all the backlash and negative press surrounding the casting of this series. For anyone familiar with the comic book Iron Fist; Danny Rand is white. Therefore, I see no issue of the casting of a white actor to portray this character. This could have been an opportunity for diversity but this backlash isn’t really necessary in this case as say it would for “The Great Wall”.
My issue is more that Finn Jones doesn’t deliver as the Iron Fist. Danny Rand, after being presumed dead for 15 years, returns to New York to reclaim his father’s company. He struggles to try to prove his identity to those he left behind, while also fulfilling his duties as the Iron Fist. This is where “Iron Fist” fails. I felt the series was lacking in making the viewer care about the character, and it had very poor character development. Throughout the show, Finn sounds like he’s’ reciting lines, and he’s painful to watch. He just doesn’t grab you or seem believable at all. Most of the fight sequences look completely staged. Finn looks as if he’s learning tai chi for the first time. He doesn’t look like a martial arts expert, or even a fighter in general. He most definitely does NOT portray someone who trained their entire life for this.
All he says is “I’m Danny Rand”, “I’m the “Iron Fist”. He doesn’t live up to the name. Finn is not intimidating at all, not one bit. I almost laughed during a scene when he threatened “Talk or bleed”. It’s not only Finn though, even the Hand felt very weak compared to what we saw in Daredevil.
One thing I will give Finn though is his portrayal of someone struggling to find his identity, and his sense of loneliness being orphaned. In Finn’s defense, the series could have done a much better job on the quality of the special effects, and choreography. The effects of his flashbacks and moments of restoring his chi were pretty bad. The special effects lines when Finn feels stressed looks like a bad VCR tape. Even the summoning of the “Iron Fist” was lacking, nothing spectacular. The introduction of the series was also pretty weak, thank you Netflix for the skip option.
The rest of the cast was tolerable. Colleen Wing, Jessica Henwick who also starred in Game of Thrones, was one of the best parts of this series. It was nice seeing this Daughter of the Dragon from the comics given this inclusion. I was more excited to see her fight scenes than anything with Iron Fist. She was badass. We also saw some friendly guest appearances and Easter eggs for the Defenders hidden throughout the series which was pretty cool.
Unfortunately, not once did I feel the excitement that the other series gave me where I felt the need to binge. Hopefully, things will improve for the upcoming Defenders or the other heroes will literally save it.
Overall, Iron Fist is average at best, I give the series 4 out of 10. Definitely the weakest of the Marvel Netflix series. Sorry, but Finn is no Defender. Iron Fist features a lousy script, messy plot, and overall weak portrayal of a Marvel Defender.
Right up front, I’m sure most of you have seen some of the early reviews calling the series the first “miss” from Marvel and Netflix. That combined with the backlash over casting Finn Jones (Game of Thrones) as Danny Rand may have led some people to have a negative view of the series before seeing a single episode. I try to keep my mind open, and not really pay too much attention to reviews (good or bad). I will say I largely failed, sitting down to watch the first episode I found myself actively looking for the flaws others perceived, and whether I saw them or not, it had already altered my viewing of the show. I’m tried to clear my head before watching further installments. As Danny Rand himself states in the first episode, “if you wish to see the truth…then hold no opinions.”
The other thing I want to talk about is the “white washing” accusations. I’ll state up front this is my own OPINION. I do understand the concern with expecting more representation for other minority factions of our society in our entertainment, and I’m all for seeing a more diverse offering, especially in my superhero genre shows and movies. All that said I feel that using the term “white-washing” for Iron Fist is a complete misuse of the term. For one thing, the character was white in the comics, he is not an Asian character being played by a European ala “Kung-Fu” TV series. Second I’m a bit confused why everyone thinks if the race of the main character should be changed, that it should be to someone of Asian decent…because he is using martial arts? So if we had a book about the mafia, and an adopted black son is the main protagonist but the new writers of the TV show decided that to keep it “authentic” he should be played by an Italian because you know, it’s the mafia?…isn’t that in itself racist? Part of what makes Iron Fist’s story is he was not worthy when he showed up, he was an outsider…only through his acceptance of an outside culture and philosophies he was able to achieve the true power of the Iron Fist.
Now I think the more proper term of what is really bugging people is the “white savior” trope, but even that doesn’t really 100% apply. I don’t want to spoil anything for people not familiar with the Iron Fist canon, and even though the series is immersed in Asian culture and flavor, that only tells half the story of the Iron Fist’s origin. So even though it seem like I’m defending IF, it is so far my LEAST favorite of the Netflix/Marvel collaborations. In order of my preference; Jessica Jones, Daredevil (only because 2nd season Punisher), and the Luke Cage. Iron Fist doesn’t have anything that is gripping me or anchoring the series…Jessica Jones really hit the gritty nail on the head and has had the best villain so far in just about ANY Marvel offering. Daredevil’s fight sequences were AMAZING and the chemistry between all the actors is engaging. Cage had the best soundtrack and probably the most charismatic lead of all. Iron Fist is left out in the cold a bit, and in a series that SHOULD be boasting the best fight choreography, I feel those scenes fall a little flat. Whether Finn Jones needs to hit the practice mat some more, or if the choreographer needs to be a little more inspired I don’t know.
In Iron Fist’s defense, a lot of the reason DD is better is it is easier for them to use a real fighter or stunt performer because they can be hidden behind a mask…in Daredevil’s famous homage to the Old Boy hallway scene if you watch carefully you can see where they switch back and forth between Charlie Cox and his stunt double. I think Iron Fist doesn’t deserve all the negative press it got early on, and it does deserve being watched with an open mind.
So there you have it, I think all of us WANTED to like Iron Fist, and some did more than others…but no one can ignore that this is the weakest offering so far from the Netflix/Marvel team-up. Is that cause for alarm? Does the show deserve all the rancor that the critics tried to drum up pre-release?…NO! Marvel has earned the right to take a breather and if that breather is Iron Fist then so be it. We’re all hoping that they come back fully recharged and knock it out of the park with The Defenders!