Main Cast: Finn Jones, Jessica Henwick
Creator: Scott Buck
Danny Rand: “I am the Iron Fist. ”
Claire Temple: “The hell does that mean?” – Iron Fist
Iron Fist is Marvel’s most divisive show. Some consider it utter crap while others defend it as a decent show. Is it a diamond in the rough or half a worm in an apple? Let’s find out.
Masters of the Martial Arts
Iron Fist is primarily a martial arts series starring Finn Jones. Instead of a super-strong guy fighting ordinary thugs, Iron Fist is a martial artist fighting trained warriors. Instead of guns, he contends with axe-wielding thugs, ninjas, and even an undead psychopath.
Lucky for Iron Fist, he is not alone. He fights alongside modern day samurai Colleen Wing (Jessica Henwick), Davos (Sacha Dhawan), a fellow warrior from K’un L’un, and Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson), finally fighting after appearing in three other Netflix shows.
Shadow of The Hand
Triad Leader: “Why is Rand so determined to have the pier all to itself?”
Iron Fist: “Another organization has forced us to purchase it.”
Triad Leader *scoffs* “Who could force a giant corporation like Rand to do anything?”
Iron Fist: “The Hand.”
Triad Leader: “*terrified* “I had no idea. ”
The Hand returned following their defeat in Daredevil’s second season. They were revealed to have multiple factions. Returning villainess Madame Gao (Wai Ching Ho) is in charge of The Hand’s criminal activities in New York, while newcomer Bakuto (Ramon Rodriguez) is in charge of recruiting. The Hand is also revealed to know the secret of immortality.
(Danny admits he’s never fought The Hand before)
Claire: “ You’re saying I have more experience fighting the Hand than you do?“
Danny: “Well, if you want to get technical about it.”
Iron Fist is not the first Marvel show to have women fight, but it is the first to have the women be better than the main character. We approve.
Our favorite example is Colleen Wing. She is a martial arts teacher trained as a samurai. Her students can hold their own against Iron Fist even before her master, Bakuto, gets his hands on them. Yep, Colleen Wing is a member of The Hand who leaves the organization after learning of Bakuto’s evil deeds.
Claire Temple also finally has a role besides patching up heroes as she did in Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage. She has a knack for running into superheroes. She met Iron Fist while studying under Colleen Wing and decided to help him after learning he is fighting The Hand. It turns out a few months of martial arts training is enough to let Claire beat trained warriors. She also got a pair of bladed gauntlets after beating a ninja. Not bad for a nurse.
Fight Scene Failure
Zhou Cheng: “I thought the Iron Fist was a great warrior. You fight like a child throwing a tantrum.”
A martial arts story rises and falls based on one question: is the fighting good? Sadly, Iron Fist uses more jump cuts than I use commas. Despite going on about being a great warrior, he struggles to beat regular thugs. Daredevil, Luke Cage, and Jessica Jones all look like they are fighting, but IF’s fight scenes look less realistic than those of the Power Rangers.
To be fair Finn Jones claims he wasn’t taught the fight choreography until 15 minutes before scenes were filmed. And despite all the cuts, some of the fights are good. The fight between Iron Fist and Zhou Cheng, a Hand member who uses Drunken Boxing, is one of the best fights in the Marvel Netflix shows.
Meet The Meachums
Joy: “There’s another thing. It’s so strange.”
Joy: “He…He stepped out onto the street. Right in front of a car. But then, he just sorta put his hand out and jumped over it, like it was nothing.”
Ward: “So? Great. He’s an insane homeless acrobat called “Cirque de Psychopath.”
Half of Iron Fist is a kung fu superhero show. The other half is a boring, trite corporate drama starring the Meachum family. Ward and Joy Meachum are the brother and sister running Rand Enterprises and childhood friends of Danny Rand. Naturally, they don’t believe Iron Fist is Danny and continually scheme against him. The siblings act like they stepped out of Mad Men or Days of Our Lives, bringing nothing useful to a superhero show.
That can’t be said for their father Harold Meachum. He died over a decade ago, but was resurrected by The Hand. He acts as Iron Fist’s version of Wilson Fisk, or “Cottonmouth” Stokes, but is far less cool. He can resurrect himself at the cost of losing part of his sanity.
A major problem with Iron Fist is wasting elements that made the character unique in print. We never get to see his training or the battle with Shou Lao that gave him the Iron Fist. His teacher, Lei Kung the Thunderer, only appears once with no indication if he’s real or a hallucination. Fan favorites like the Bride of Nine Spiders and Scythe appear as simple henchmen instead of important characters. Hell, he loses the ability to use the Iron Fist halfway through the show.
Iron Fist feels like a superhero movie from the 1990’s like Steel or Batman Forever. It uses the words and stories fans know, but doesn’t care about the characters it shows. That was acceptable twenty-five years ago. It’s insulting in this age of blockbuster superhero movies.
Iron Fist is a flawed show that lacks Marvel’s signature attention to detail. These episodes were uneven despite being the last stepping stone to The Defenders series. This mediocre show has the potential to be much better if it receives a second season.