Since 2015, “Daredevil,” “Jessica Jones,” and “Luke Cage” have wowed Netflix audiences with their mix of superheroes and street level drama. But something else these shows have in common is the fact that the series always start strong, then sag in the middle, and then finish strong.
That however, is not the case with the latest Marvel/Netflix show, “Iron Fist.” The story of Danny Rand sags from its opening scene, with only a few strong along the way. The series is more of a family drama instead of being a show about martial arts. “Iron Fist” has more exposition than any of the other Netflix shows, so much it makes some of the episodes rather dull.
The first couple of episodes deal Danny Rand’s homecoming, but he spends most of the time trying to convince others he is who he says he is. What made things worse for me was the fact that there didn’t seem to be a reason for Danny’s return. This could have been solved with single line of dialogue, instead, several episodes in, people are still asking Danny what he’s doing back in New York after he presumably died in the Himalayas along with his mother and father 15 years ago. And after more episodes go by, he still doesn’t have a good answer for them.
Eventually Danny Rand shifts his focus to reclaiming his namesake by trying to take back his dad’s company. But even that doesn’t make sense, because the character of Danny has already established he doesn’t care about money or the power that would come if he gets the company back. By the way, Rand Enterprises is a really generic company, I’m still not sure what they do.
In the comic, Danny Rand is very sure of himself, both as the Iron Fist and in business. In the Netflix show, Finn Jones plays Danny as a naïve, angry teenager who doesn’t know what he wants, and gets ticked off whenever someone stands up to him. Naïve is one thing the comic version of Danny Rand never was.
To make matter worse, Finn Jones looks terrible in action. He’s clearly bad at martial arts so most of his action sequences are quick cuts so we don’t see the faults. His first fight with security guards looks like a dance routine and not a true fight. None of the action in the early episodes are up to the caliber of previous Netflix Marvel shows.
The flaws in Finn Jones are made even clearer when we meet Jessica Henwick’s Colleen Wing, a Dojo owner who becomes Danny’s love interest. Let me be clear here: Jessica Henwick is the highlight of “Iron Fist.” She is not only the more compelling character but she has also knows who she is and what she wants.
Plus, unlike Danny Rand, Colleen Wing knows her martial arts, so when she is requires to, she use her fighting skills and steals the scenes and the entire show. Quite frankly, everything in this show would have better had they just made Jessica Henwick the star.
Other cast member include: Tom Pelphrey as Ward Meachum. Jessica Stroup as Joy Meachum, David Wenham as Harold Meachum. The two guys love to chew the scenery, and are a little too flamboyant at times. Jessica Stroup is cute, but I’m not sure her character was needed. Also, she took her family “reunion” a little to calmly I thought. In that situation, I would have been a little freaked out.
On the bright side, Rosario Dawson is back as Claire Temple, and she brings some much-needed laughs and heart to the proceedings. Too bad she was only in a handful of episodes and not the entire season.
When it comes right down to it, “Iron Fist” feels like a wasted opportunity. This series had all the potential in the world, and it could have been the next great martial arts saga. But because of weak writing, and a lackluster lead, most of the good stuff in the show, comes crashing down.
“iRon Fist” final score: C
The only reason it gets a grade that high is because of Jessica Henwick.