By Quentin Basnaw
Marvel, what happened? Your Netflix shows were the response to DC films being “dark and brooding,” and you excelled at it! You gave us Daredevil, a fantastic look at a man conflicted about his faith and being a superhero. You gave us Jessica Jones, a captivating look at a rape survivor trying to free innocents from the control of a mad man. You gave us Luke Cage, a more upbeat yet serious look at inner city crimes and how it affects families. Now you’ve given us Iron Fist, and to be quite honest, I don’t really know what this show is trying to do.
Iron Fist is the fourth show in the Marvel Netflix lineup, culminating in this summer’s Defenders. Boy, talk about a disappointment. I don’t want to be hard on this show; as a telecommunications major, I understand that film and TV productions go through seemingly endless and insurmountable challenges to create content for me to rip apart. But seriously Netflix? After giving us high quality adult entertainment set in the Marvel Universe, you just crap out Iron Fist without the decency to clean up after yourself? Sorry, that was a crude metaphor. Let’s just get into this…
Iron Fist follows the incredibly dull trials of Danny Rand, a rich man who was taken in by monks after a plane accident at a young age. He returns to his home in New York 15 years later to umm… I don’t really know why he left. Was he scared? Did he want to reconnect with his childhood friends (who are complete and utter garbage rich people), or was he just was tired of the mystical Kun La La Land we never get to see? Anyways, Danny has the power of the Iron Fist, which, when he focuses his Chi, allows him to punch things super-duper hard. He is portrayed by Finn Jones (Game of Thrones). I blame the script and directors for making Danny Rand (I call him Danny Bland) a completely forgettable and uninteresting, naïve, clichéd idiot of a character who couldn’t convincingly beat up a wet paper bag.
The two previously mentioned “garbage rich people” are Ward and Joy Meachum, childhood friends of Danny. They run his parents’ company, or at least are on the board of directors for the company. Their character arcs are ok, if a little uninspired. Did I mention their evil dad who gets revived by the Hand over and over? Joy is portrayed by Jessica Stroup (Jack Reacher: Never Go Back) and Ward is portrayed by Tom Pelphrey (Birds of America).
The only good characters in this entire show are two we’ve already seen and one new one. They are Jeri Hogarth, originally introduced in Jessica Jones, Madame Gao, coming from Daredevil, and Colleen Wick, portrayed by Jessica Henwick (Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens). The first two mentioned are great because they fill the same roles they did in their own respective shows: Hogarth is an awesome no nonsense lawyer, and Madame Gao is an evil mastermind whose actions don’t make sense, but she’s so calm, cool, detached, and evil that I just love her.
Colleen Wing, on the other hand, is the master of a dojo that helps impoverished kids learn martial arts so they don’t end up on the streets in their free time. She has awesome fights (better than all of Danny Bland’s action scenes!) and the most compelling arc out of any of these cardboard cutouts. Seriously, the only thing wrong with her character is the unnecessary romance between her and Danny Bland! Come on, Colleen! You can do way better than Danny Bland! Please! A house plant has more personality than him!
Enough about that. What else do I have to complain about? Oh right, the fight scenes. When your “martial arts show” is so jumpy and full of cuts that I have no idea what’s going on or who is winning in a fight, or I can tell there’s a blatant editing mistake, these are problems. Danny Bland’s stunt double seems to magically warp into every other shot, and it’s incredibly noticeable. All the action scenes feel like they had to be filmed in 5 minutes so they quickly grabbed random people off the street and had them run at Danny Bland. The only fight scenes that look passable belong to Colleen Wing. Good on her.
As for the story, it’s dumb. Most of the characters are dumb. The tie-ins to the other Marvel shows are actually really nice; I appreciated them. However, a big gaping hole in this story goes to Claire Temple, portrayed by Rosario Dawson (Daredevil, Jessica Jones). She reprises her role as the nurse from the other 4 seasons of Marvel Netflix shows thus far. She meets Danny and helps him go after the Hand (set up as villains from Daredevil). At this point, she has met Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage. She doesn’t even bother to say, “Let me try and find them! They could help us take out the Hand. Didn’t you know Daredevil fought them off in Season 2 of his show?” This is just lazy and unforgivable. She even mentions Daredevil, but none of these idiots suggest going to him for help. Lazy, dumb, contrived, awful, horrid, and oh boy, I hope Defenders is better than this.
Overall, this show is not good. It got “better” around episode 7 or 8, not sure which, but that doesn’t excuse the fact I wasted about six hours of my life pulling my hair out at the insanity I was witnessing before. I’m not worried about Defenders as a whole, but I am not looking forward to Danny Bland appearing in that show. As far as I’m concerned, he can channel his Chi into a new job because he sucks at being Iron Fist. Let Colleen be Iron Fist instead!