Marvel’s newest Netflix series, “Iron Fist,” is borderline mediocre for those unfamiliar with the superhero and a lackluster with comic book fans.
After the successful depictions of other New York superheroes like Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage in their own respective series, Marvel’s approach to introducing the kung-fu action oriented superhero Iron Fist is an awkward combination of corporate greed, upholding tradition and paying for the sins of predecessors.
“Iron Fist” is centered around Danny Rand (Finn Jones), a man who was previously thought to have died in a plane crash along with his parents when he was 10 years old. After being saved by monks in the Himalayan Mountains, Rand trains in different forms of martial arts in order to attain the title as the mystical warrior Iron Fist.
Tired with his life in the mountains, Rand decides to go back to his home in New York to reclaim the multi-million dollar corporation his father left him and reconnect with old friends, while finding out about the criminal activity going on around the city.
Overall, the story seems outlandish and odd and, upon watching the first episode, something felt wrong with how things were being portrayed in a world that’s meant to be connected to the rest of the Avenger’s universe.
The acting overall is palatable for a Marvel Netflix series. Jones’s depiction of Rand as an impulsive, violence-prone, man-out-of-time just trying to reconnect with friends and a world that has moved far ahead of him is commendable.
But the choice to incorporate Buddhist teachings and Asian philosophy in his dialogue made him seem fake or trying too hard, even if the character was meant to be raised by monks for 15 years.
Supporting characters Joy Meachum (Jessica Stroup) and Ward Meachum (Tom Pelphrey) are a brother-sister duo that took after Rand’s corporation after his disappearance, and their character progression seems real for the first couple of episodes before spiralling into ridiculous areas.
Out of the entire cast, Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson) is the most level headed and real. Temple is a recurring character in the Marvel Netflix series, having first appeared in the Daredevil series, then all subsequent series afterwards. She represents the “common person” thrown into the madness that follows superheroes and the voice of reason in conflicts.
All the action within the series is slow and lacks any real visceral impact. This is sad because it’s indicative of the watered down Marvel budget that they got to make a Netflix series.
Within the comics, the Iron Fist is meant to be a “living weapon” and master of martial arts. But in the show, Rand doesn’t exactly demonstrate immense skill. Most of the action scenes are improved through clever editing and the use of flagrant flips and big movements that show a mastery of the body but not a mastery of martial arts.
Even demonstrating the ability of the Iron Fist was disappointing because on top of being a trained kung-fu expert it’s also meant to be a force of nature designed to strike down evil. However the show only shows it when Rand’s fists glow yellow and his strikes become more powerful.
Compared to Marvel’s previous attempts at Netflix series, “Iron Fist” is more like a drawn out kung-fu movie with a light splash of mysticism here and there.
It’s overall plot is forgettable and lends very little towards the company’s larger plan for the “Defenders” series that will combine the forces of Daredevil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones and Iron Fist.
For comic book fans, the show is okay. There are lows and highs that come with any Netflix series and the nods to other superheroes within the universe is always good to see. For those unfamiliar with superheroes, or anything Marvel related, the series is only good for some of the action and corporate intrigue, but ultimately isn’t worth the time.