Our Netflix MCU reviews are coming to an end, as The Defenders premiere is nearing. Today we’re talking about Iron Fist.
Slaughtered by critics and side-eyed by some fans, Iron Fist didn’t fulfill the public’s standards that its predecessors set.
The show is about Danny Rand, who suffered a tragic plane accident when he was a child and lost his parents in the crash. He’s found by monks of the mystical lost city of K’un-Lun where he’s trained and chosen as the Iron Fist. He returns to New York after years of being gone and thought dead. With his powers and some friends, he looks for a way to free his city from corruption and crime.
I have to say, it didn’t quite reach the quality that I was accustomed to as a follower of the Netflix/Marvel properties, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad show and it certainly isn’t what critics made it seem.
One of the most enjoyable things I found in this show is Danny Rand’s (played by Finn Jones) almost child-like naivety, even though he has suffered and is still haunted by his past. This lightness, when well-handled, manages to brighten up the dark settings and plot giving the viewer almost an insight of what the character has been missing for these years. However, the writing sometimes makes Danny seem unbalanced, self-centered, stubborn and annoying, and one can’t help but wonder how could he become the Iron Fist when he clearly isn’t really “Zen” at times.
Colleen Wing (Jessica Henwick) is maybe the most interesting and kick-ass (quite literally) character in this show. She’s a martial arts teacher and basically saves troubled kids in the neighborhood by teaching them the Code these martial arts entail. The viewer gets to see the struggle between her morals and some sad-realities. This takes her to a self-awareness journey. However, the development of her story-line felt rushed at times. A particular plot-twist was used to shock the audience, which itself wasn’t the biggest issue, but the emotional impact it had on this character. It feels as if it wasn’t properly handled and that the character needed more time to come to terms with these radical changes.
I have mixed feelings about the Meachum family. Their role in the show is meant as antsgonistic, but they are also a link to Danny’s past life and perhaps even a view of what his life might have been. It’s fair to talk a bit about these characters.
Joy (Jessica Stroup) is an interesting character. She’s a kind soul trapped in the soulless business world. Viewers got to see the struggle she had, making choices to save her company but that endangered her humanity, and Danny’s return proves to be a bit of a lifeline for those pieces of her soul she lost during her time in Rand Enterprises. In the season finale, we see this character make a complete turn of who she is and it felt underdeveloped, sudden and unfair.
I have to say, I was surprisingly pleased with Ward (Tom Pelphrey). It feels as if his evolution was the only one properly handled. The viewer goes from being skeptic about him to truly admiring this character for how he grows as a person and overcomes his demons. At first he seems to be the guy viewers are going to hate, but as the story moves forward we get to learn a bit more about him, his childhood and the abuse he’s suffered and continues to. He battles that suffering, slays the head of the dragon so to speak, and seems to come out as a better person.
However, Harold Meachum (David Wenham) was terribly handled. Of course from the beginning, it is obvious that he isn’t on Danny’s side and that he will betray the Iron Fist, but the pacing for this development was an anti-climactic disaster. Of course, Ward’s evolution is dependent of Harold’s downfall, but this could have been the storyline for another season as it had a lot of potential but was used ultimately to redefine Joy and Ward’s allegiances.
On a brighter note, the connections and references to the other shows are of course always enjoyable. In this show, viewers get to see once again Claire Temple (played by Rosario Dawson), who as in the other shows, acts as the hero’s moral compass in certain circumstances. As much as I enjoy the comedic aspect she brings from time to time, I prefer her role as the guide, which truly helps these characters evolve. In this show viewers get to see both, and her guidance is instrumental for the story.
Another familiar face is Jeri Hogarth (played by Carrie-Anne Moss), whose compassion seems to be accentuated in this show. The Jeri Hogarth viewers meet in Jessica Jones isn’t the same we meet here. We learn the beginning of her career as a lawyer and see an almost family-like bond forged between her and Danny. Of course, this doesn’t outshine her badass lawyer-skills that we can see at work throughout the show.
Viewers get to see once again Madame Gao (Wai Ching Ho). She’s been introduced as part of the Hand in Daredevil. Her role in this show was extremely satisfying. She’s a great antagonist. Were she the only villain during this first season, perhaps the storyline wouldn’t have suffered as much as it did. She’s certainly an interesting character and an excellent villain that I hope to see more in the future.
The main problem is the pacing. The first episodes seem slow and dragging, whereas the last two episodes feel too fast and weren’t properly managed. It seemed as though the main-story line was finished by episode 12 and the plot-twists in these final episodes felt cheap and underdeveloped.
Some characters’ evolutions, Joy and Harold’s especially, viewers were supposed to see throughout the series, but they took place in under one hour. It felt confusing and senseless to see these radical changes in certain characters and the attempt to shock the audience fell short.
Nonetheless, Iron Fist is a fun and entertaining show that introduces great characters, and I hope to see more of their evolution.
Written by: Cecilia López Closs