Sometimes I don’t get myself. I’m not a comic book fan, I’m not really a superhero fan, and yet once I commit a certain amount of binge time to something, I feel the need to see it through to the end no matter how much I die inside. Maybe binging 50 years’ worth of Star Trek left me with a void to fill so I turned to the fastest growing alternative, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, currently holding at 14 movies and 11 seasons of TV, including this one, starring someone I confess I never heard of before: Marvel’s Iron Fist.
Danny Rand (Finn Jones) returns to New York City after being missing and presumed dead since his family’s plane went down when he was 10 years old. Now 25, he hopes to reclaim his father’s company, currently owned and operated by his childhood friends, Ward (Tom Pelphrey) and Joy Meecham (Jessica Stroup). Unfortunately, no one believes he is who he says he is. But that’s not all, he’s also returned with some superhero abilities, claiming to be something known as the Iron Fist. When word of this reaches the evil ninja organization The Hand, the Iron Fist’s sworn enemy, Danny suddenly has a fistful of problems to deal with.
Danny Rand is a dumbass! Of all the so-called superheroes, this one has got to be the easiest one to beat. You wanna try to sneak up on him? Go for it; he doesn’t notice things. You wanna distract him? Just point somewhere and say, “Hey, look!” You wanna convince him of something that’s not true? Just say literally anything to him and watch him whine and squirm with childish powerlessness. It doesn’t help that he’s the most annoying and unlikable lead character since Hayden Christensen as Darth Vader. Every time he speaks, you just want him to shut up. Whenever they show the other characters for a while and then cut back to Danny, you wish he wasn’t on this show. It also doesn’t help that one of the characters sarcastically remarks, “You’re the worst Iron Fist ever,” as if a fraction of self-deprecating humor is supposed to make it all better. Not to mention the season finale’s final moments prove that Danny Rand is, in fact, the worst Iron Fist ever!
Like Luke Cage, Iron Fist suffers from a severe lack of creative direction. Don’t bother trying to figure out who the villain is, because they pinball around several options before finally picking one for the season finale. For a show about a fighter, it’s also surprisingly boring. The overused office building setting and constant talks about the Rand business couldn’t be more sleep-inducing. It takes forever for something interesting to happen, and don’t think they won’t use the “Undo” button, because they do (repeatedly). Lackluster exposition is another problem, especially in a show with a complex mythology involving an alternate dimension. Continuity doesn’t fare much better either. In a random encounter, Danny Rand meets Colleen Wing (Jessica Henwick), who runs a dojo. She’s struggling to pay the bills and secretly fights in illegal clubs every night to make ends meet. Then we find out that this person who Danny met randomly is a spy working for The Hand and that they gave her the dojo? The one that she’s fighting in illegal clubs every night (secretly, I remind you) to pay for? (*shakes head*) Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson) shows up to lend a helping whatever, or maybe just because she was in all the other Netflix superhero shows, but here she pretty much just tags along and not much else. The chaotic fight scenes, which they shoehorn in like something out of a 70’s kung-fu movie, grow quite tiresome early on, especially since Danny can seemingly take on a small army, unless he hurts his special hand. Then he’s useless — err, more useless — and can’t even hold his own against a single adversary. He also has the most unconvincing stunt double since modern-day Steven Seagal. At least someone on this show is earning their paycheck.
I used to think 13 episodes was a decent length for a TV show. But Iron Fist, like Luke Cage, has helped me realize that 13 episodes may be too much for these writers to handle. If it doesn’t feel like a complete story by the season finale, then you didn’t tell your story properly. Fight scenes, cameos, and jumping between villains shouldn’t just be used to fill time. Serialized storytelling suggests there’s an ongoing narrative from one episode to the next. Instead, all we get are 13 episodes of unfocused distractions. A likable lead character would have helped a little, which was the one saving grace on Luke Cage. But Danny Rand is just a spoiled rich kid who gets superpowers and then comes back to New York City to claim his millions, all while passing judgment on his closest allies and constantly expressing how great he is. Who’s going to root for a guy like that for 13 ****ing episodes?
1 out of 5