Iron Fist misses mark


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Production concept art for Iron Fist that was unveiled at New York Comic Con in Oct. 2016. The Netflix series released its 13-episode first season Mar. 17.

The problem with brands like Marvel is that audiences come to expect a certain brand of quality, and when they fail to deliver, it can be blown out of proportion.

This is not one of those times.

Released on March 17, the first 13-episode season of Marvel’s fourth Netflix series, Iron Fist, follows Danny Rand (Finn Jones) returning to New York City after being presumed dead for 15 years to reclaim his family company, Rand Enterprises, from Harold Meachum (David Wenham) and his children Ward (Tom Pelphrey) and Joy (Jessica Stroup). When a threat emerges, Rand must choose between his family’s legacy and his duties as the Iron Fist.

This show was so poorly put together, I needed to watch another comic book movie right away to balance it out.

Let’s start with the main problem of Iron Fist, Iron Fist. Jones’ performance as Rand/Iron Fist comes off as whiny, gullible and irritating to watch. There were times when I wanted to reach through the screen and slap some sense into the guy. It is foreshadowing when we first see Rand as a ragged barefoot hippie who wanders in from Woodstock, since it accurately represents the show’s quality: ragged and worn out.

Another troubling thing about this show is its main villain: there is not one. Similar to its predecessor, Luke Cage, Iron Fist utilized multiple villains, including Bakuto (Ramón Rodríguez), whose performance had a real charisma to it. Unfortunately, we are not fully introduced to him until the back half of the season, making his impact too small.

Daredevil alum Madame Gao (Wai Ching Ho) also returned to play a secondary threat to Rand. While her mysterious past and cryptic personality are intriguing, it may have been better if she and Bakuto had switched roles so that she could be expanded later and he could have had more time this season devoted to him.

The main villain, if you can call him that, is Harold. At least once per episode, the show checks in on what he is up to, or, in reality, what he is not up to. He never does anything worthy of a confrontation, at least with Rand, until the final two episodes. While Wenham is clearly giving it his all and trying to make his character work, it was not enough to make up for the show’s lackluster writing.

The writers of Iron Fist gave us dialogue that was awkward, cliché, and cringe-worthy, usually occurring when he talks about his 15-year sabbatical in the Himalayas. One quality that memorable movies or shows almost always have, alongside good acting, is solid writing and dialogue. While Jones’ performance may have been the series’ most visible problem, this is the show’s biggest problem.

Writers are the ones who control everything that happens within a show’s plot, and Iron Fist’s plot is all over the place. Any scene involving Ward and Joy feels like a soap opera, Rand’s blind trust in Harold despite obvious ulterior motives makes viewers want to yell at the screen, and half the time Rand speaks you will swear he is still the 10-year old kid who crash landed in the Himalayas. Despite Jones’ performance providing a lot of Iron Fist’s negative reception, the show was already doomed once the writers took their hands from their keyboards.

While there are not many, the show does have some redeeming. When Jessica Jones alum Jeri Hogarth (Carrie-Anne Moss) is on screen, she is bound to have a funny line or two. Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson) returns once again, and while her role as the ignored voice of reason and medical expertise is turning trite, her character manages to progress under the tutelage of Colleen Wing (Jessica Henwick). The fight scenes are also beautifully choreographed, even if several looked staged.

Additionally, Wing is the only new character who is compelling. While venturing into specifics would reveal spoilers, her two main inner conflicts are more suitable for a main character than almost any of Rand’s issues involving Rand Enterprises and his duties as Iron Fist. The series would have been better if Wing were the main protagonist, a fact made much more apparent as the season progresses.

While there are moments sprinkled in Iron Fist that will make you hope it will get better, they only seem to prove that this series could have turned out so much better than it did. The only draws are that it is the last solo Marvel show to premiere on Netflix before the release of The Defenders on Aug. 18, introduces one strong female character in Wing, and brings back familiar faces from series that were actually enjoyable. If you’re not a die-hard Marvel fan, do yourself a favor and dodge Iron Fist.

A trailer for the series can be viewed below.