Better than: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad
Not as good as: Other Marvel series
You may also like : Daredevil, Arrow
The final member of Marvel’s The Defenders series was revealed March 18 when Iron Fist hit Netflix. While they don’t always have much in common, the other Marvel-Netflix collaboration series (Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage) have all been pretty good shows. Iron Fist, unfortunately, breaks this trend.
Unlike some of the other superhero-themed critical failures, Iron Fist doesn’t seem like it was incompetently made. It seems like it knows what it wants to be for the most part. It’s just that what it wants to be is quite boring. Compared to a movie like Suicide Squad, which is messy yet entertaining, Iron Fist is structured, but bland.
The problem begins with the characters. Danny Rand (Finn Jones), the titular Iron Fist, is the least interesting Marvel protagonist I’ve seen in recent memory. He’s got an interesting enough backstory — being accepted as a warrior at an otherworldly monastery after surviving a plane crash that killed his parents — but in practice, he’s just somewhat irritating. In the 15 years that passed since Danny first joined the monastery, he doesn’t seem to have matured at all, meaning the show’s lead is essentially a 10-year-old in a grown man’s body. Jones also doesn’t infuse enough charisma into the role to make Danny’s cluelessness endearing, leaving him just as a dull, kind of stupid protagonist everyone else has to tolerate.
Unfortunately, the supporting cast doesn’t fare much better. While there are some interesting characters, they always seem to get far less screen time than dull characters — like, for example, Ward Meachum (Tom Pelphrey), a largely ineffective bully-turned-businessman with eyeroll-inducing daddy issues.
Interesting or not, all of the characters are bogged down by the plot. The basic premise sees Danny return to his home after 15 years to try and reclaim his family name (and the billion-dollar industry he’s entitled to — yup, another billionaire superhero). Remarkably, a show that’s supposed to be about a martial arts expert kicking ass and fighting evil ends up wrapped up in a bunch of corporate nonsense and half-assed attempts at moral relativity that you probably won’t give a crap about.
Did I forget to mention that Danny’s a martial artist? In my defence, I think the show forgot too. The fight scenes in the show are probably the biggest disappointment: I can’t tell if the actors just insisted on doing their own scenes, or if the fight choreography was really just that bad, but a show that’s supposedly about an unparalleled martial artist shouldn’t have action scenes this amateurish.
All in all, Iron Fist seems like a misstep in what has otherwise been a fairly reliable series. Hopefully, the shows’ failings represents a momentary lapse of judgement, rather than what to expect for future Defenders outings.