TV Review: Marvel’s Iron Fist (Season 1, 2017)

The fourth and final of the individual character Netflix series from Marvel, Iron Fist follows the events of Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and especially Daredevil, and is based on the Marvel Comic series The Immortal Iron Fist. Danny Rand (Finn Jones) returns home to New York after being presumed dead from a plane crash 15 years prior, only to find his family’s company, Rand Enterprises, has been taken over by his childhood friends, Joy and Ward Meachum (Jessica Stroup and Tom Pelphrey, respectively), following the death of their father Harold (David Wenham).

Please note, there are very, very minor spoilers here but I promise nothing that will ruin your viewing past the end of the first episode.

+ Finn Jones is good, but not great, as Danny Rand aka the titular Iron Fist, although he is arguably the weakest of the main characters. His innocence shines through in his words and demeanor, and he does seem to be the most genuinely nice of the four Defenders, which does suit this being the most light-hearted of the shows so far
+ Jessica Henwick is fantastic as Colleen Wing, and as always Rosario Dawson shines as Claire Temple. These two were my personal favourites of the whole season; Henwick’s fight scenes were far more enjoyable, and hard hitting, than Rand’s, and Dawson really is the ‘straight man’ to all of the wacky stuff going on in New York, even now that magic is involved
+ I especially liked the synth/heavy bass soundtrack, but it didn’t really fit in with the action, or style of the show. Luke Cage had that gangsta/blacksploitation thing going with the rap and hip-hop, so maybe this should have been an 80s style, light-hearted kung-fu movie instead? Maybe that would have just created more racially-charged issues

ironfist_s1_2.png
Note: the fist isn’t literally iron… I don’t think. (image via Netflix)

– The Meachum family – Joy (Jessica Stroup), Ward (Tom Pelphrey) and Harold (David Wenham) were very hit and miss. I didn’t like that they were main characters (often more prominent than Danny), and  they often had unclear motivations. I also often found it hard to tell who was good, who was bad, and what they thought of Danny and even their family members
– There was a bit too much boardroom drama, especially in the early and later episodes (though the middle episodes were better in that regard). Similarly, much of the drama could have been avoided outright if characters were not so stupid – why Danny didn’t just get a shave and some less disgusting clothes before going to his building I don’t know
– Tying in with the above, there were some sever pacing issues, exactly like Luke Cage and Jessica Jones and Daredevil season 2. If these were ten episode seasons, instead of 13, some of the fluff could have been eliminated and everything would be smooth sailing, but as it is there is just too much cliched, far-too-convenient happenstance which just feels like ‘fake drama’
– The fights were well choreographed but they never felt as important as the other shows; Daredevil learning to fight with technique, or Luke Cage’s power brawling. I understand that this is an origin series and he was learning to harness his chi, so the more spectacular light shows would not be on display just yet. But I just expected something more like The Raid, and I didn’t get that
– I didn’t even see a tease of the classic outfit. I would have liked something, even if he just had to wear the cowl/mask thing for a single scene

> I don’t care what the official explanation is; it is getting harder and harder to believe that someone like Daredevil or Jessica Jones, let alone bloody Iron Man or Spidey themselves wouldn’t step in to curb some of the Hand stuff. Iron Man, as Stark, probably would have some interest in another “[surname] Enterprises” heir returning home after 15 years of presumed death.
> I understand it is a sensitive topic, especially with the Ghost in the Shell film coming out soon, but the casting here was all pretty solid imo. Jones will only improve once his character gets a bit more confidence (not to mention control of the Iron Fist itself) and I can’t imagine any reason why Danny Rand would have to be Asian simply because he knows martial arts – if anything /that/ would be worse.

Should you watch this show: Look, first things first, this is not as good as Luke Cage or season 2 of Daredevil. This is probably on par with Jessica Jones and Daredevil season 1. Even with a relatively bland lead in Finn Jones, there is enough here for you to get a solid viewing out of it.

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