Starring: Finn Jones, Jessica Henwick & Rosario Dawson
Review Author: Shaun
Rating: 2.4/5 pints of Guinness
Warning minor spoilers!
For this review, I took a break from the movie world and dived into Netflix’s latest release into the street level Marvel Movie Universe. Iron Fist is a show of two very contrasting halves: the first half slowly introduces the story of Danny Rand, who has returned to New York after a 15-year absence, in that time undergoing training to becoming the Iron Fist. The second half steps things up several gears and explodes into a pulsating final stretch that ties the wandering and unfocused stories together loosely. Unfortunately, Netflix and Marvel’s latest offering spends far too much time in the boardroom and not enough time with the few compelling characters it does have. saying this, it delivers a slow-paced show which over stretches it storylines for far too long.
Danny Rand as we find out in the opening episode is the rightful heir to the Rand Corporation which is being run by his childhood friends, siblings Joy and Ward Meachum. The premiere is, by some distance, the strongest of the early episodes, setting out the major players and Danny’s fish out of water routine, as well as having to deal with the grief over the mysterious circumstances surrounding his parents’ death and his subsequent disappearance.
What follows, is a mind-numbingly dull series of episodes that deal with boardroom wrangling’s, with Danny Rand’s emotions ranging from out-of-touch young student to someone stupid enough to trust the Meachum’s again and again despite being betrayed and even institutionalized. You’d be forgiven for thinking Iron Fist could be renamed Moving’ on up with the Meachum’s, although the family patriarch, Harold makes the interminable sibling relationship between Joy and Ward somewhat bearable. Remarkably, it’s his presence as the antagonist for Danny which made me root for Rand, not Finn Jones’ portrayal of the Iron Fist. Rand just isn’t as likable as Daredevil, as charismatic as Luke Cage, nor as wickedly funny as Jessica Jones.
Thankfully, it’s not all about the infuriating inconsistent lead. Colleen Wing is a genuine joy to watch and, without a shadow of a doubt, the MVP of the show. Her fight scenes are the most intense, her motivations are the most interesting, and she’s easily the best female character the MCU has produced thus far. It’s hard to care about the selfish, conceited members of Iron Fist’s ensemble so Wing is a bright spot in a show which desperately needs something going for it in the early episodes. Don’t be surprised to see a Colleen Wing spin-off in the near future.
A frustrating lack of flashbacks for Danny’s training means we never really see (or care) about how great the fabled Iron Fist is meant to be. This is a company that loves to liberally sprinkle flashbacks wherever they can so the fact they chose not to hear really hurts Danny’s character. He seriously needs to be fleshed out.
Those looking for an ass-kicking Danny Rand will be left disappointed as he fights other, more abstract foes, such as his self-doubt and his burgeoning feelings for Colleen Wing. However, when we do get fight scenes, they’re up there with some of the best from Marvel’s Netflix offerings. One scrap in particular, with a drunken member of The Hand, makes you yearn for more and I was left wondering why the ball was dropped.
The Hand once again pop up in this series but unlike the second season of Daredevil, their presence fits and is mostly welcome. Their shadowy influence permeates much of the show and, in the beginning, they’re the reason why you’ll want to keep watching, especially when a returning face from Daredevil shows up to give Danny’s quest for redemption purpose with a real foe to fight.
But these moments of genuine intrigue and suspense are too few and far between for the show to be on the level of its predecessors. A change of locales in the second half of the season freshens things up considerably, but things are still bogged down by Danny’s unlikeability and the Meachum’s tendency to bring things to a halt every time they show their face. Being a Marvel show, there’s still the same checklist of forced connections to the rest of the MCU. A character hiring Jessica Jones for some PI work feels less like a smart nod and more like a closed universe where only 12 people live in New York and they all know each other.
Claire Temple – The queen of forced connections: she may as well be replaced by a giant Defenders logo at this point, as she’s introduced with all the subtlety of a roundhouse kick to the head. It’s a waste of Rosario Dawson’s considerable talents that she amounts to nothing more than a walking scalpel at this point. Here’s hoping The Defenders does a bit more with her because she’s wasted here.
Iron Fist is undoubtedly the weakest of the current quartet of Marvel’s Netflix offerings, but it isn’t without promise. The more exciting second half of the season really improves on its lackluster start and it’s just a shame that the show is held back by a lead you never care about. All in all, it feels like a necessary evil to complete The Defenders puzzle, but it’s a piece that’s far too inconsistent, unfocused, and downright boring in places, like Luke Cage I believe the show probably would have fared better if it had a shorter episode runtime instead of trying to fill the large thirteen episode call mark.
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