Marvel’s IRON FIST – TV Review
Netflix and Marvel have revealed the final member of The Defenders in the form of the new series IRON FIST. It’s been met with a variety of opinions – some scathing, some glowing – but here’s our take on Marvel latest addition.
After years of learning martial arts in the Far East, scruffy faced son of a slain billionaire comes back to the city of his birthplace that considered him dead. He has no interest in running his father’s company, but he does plan to use it as a front to beat up criminals at night (instead of using his newfound wealth and influence to build jobs in low income areas of course). Oh I’m sorry, I think I just copied and pasted my review of Batman Begins…or was that Arrow…? Wait…did Tony Stark also learn martial arts?
DISCLAIMER: Don’t worry, I’m not even going to discuss the controversy over the race of Danny Rand. Several others have already done that, even on this site. I’m going to strictly discuss the actual show and whether or not it works.
That being said, it’s not going to get any points for originally, but when you think about it there’s really only a handful of superhero origins anyway. Just pick one out of a hat and start drawing.
So how does Iron Fist stack up to as the last piece of the puzzle to The Defenders? Sorry to say, but definitely last place. Like Danny Rand this show struggle to find its identity. Daredevil was definitely a noir crime drama. Jessica Jones was in that vein as well but also a personal story of an all too touchy subject network TV shies away from. Luke Cage was a blaxploitation love letter that was also a social commentary on our current racial climate. Iron Fist was…a show. It wasn’t trying to say anything important, nor did it capture the Kung Fu movie aspect as well as one would think it would. There’s also the lack of a memorable villain that all the other shows delivered (even to the point of outshining the hero).
This actually could have been forgiven if it delivered on the action. As spectacular as Daredevil’s fight scenes were (which Season 2 somehow even manage to top), you expect the self proclaimed best fighter to have the best fight scenes. Not only do the fight scenes fail to be as good as Daredevil…they fail to be even as good as Arrow…
Which brings me to maybe the main problem of this show: Finn Jones. He’s just not convincing as Iron Fist. If he didn’t repeatedly tell you that he’s the greatest martial artist, you’d never believe it because his actual fighting won’t convince you at all. When he’s speaking Bhuddist quotes and Mandarin, it’s pretty laughable. On top of that he lacks the charisma as a lead to carry a show. Let me repeat myself, THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH HIM BEING WHITE. Yes white guys can learn martial arts, or at least enough to look convincing. Chuck Norris, Jason Statham, even Keanu Reeves prove you can be a convincing white martial artist. This show would have benefited from an actual accomplished martial artist, regardless of race.
Since the show doesn’t have same strengths as the other Marvel Netflix shows, the problems that those other shows have stand out even more here. First off 13 episodes are just too long for these types of shows. The storyline feels like it’s being padded out at times. Not only that, but having each episode at 51 minutes is rather problematic. The episodes are so long that it’s hard to gauge a first, second, and third act of each episode because they feel like they drag. Keep in mind all of the other shows suffered from the same problem, so it’s not just Iron Fist.
Now to the good things: Colleen Wing. She single-handedly saved this show. She’s a better actor than the lead, fight scenes are more convincing, and what’s most shocking of all even her backstory is more interesting than Danny Rand. When she’s on screen the show works. When she’s not it doesn’t.
The show also actually kicks into another gear when Rosario Dawson’s reprises her role as Claire Temple…or the Night Nurse…or whatever Marvel has the rights to this week. Some comic purists will be upset that Claire is basically filling in as half of the Daughters of the Dragon besides Misty Knight, but it was the smart choice. Rosario is the linchpin of all these shows, plus she’s the bigger name. Also, as much as I hate to admit it…she’s a better actress than the Misty Knight actress too.
Marvel Netflix has set a pretty high bar, so if we’re heading on a curve Iron Fist has failed to reach that bar and some may even consider it as Marvel Studios first major misstep. However if you’re looking for a new series on Netflix to pass the time over a weekend, you can do worse than Iron Fist. At the end of the day it does serve its purpose as passable entertainment.