In this “golden age” of television, reviewers are sent dozens if not hundreds of screeners to watch and weigh in on. It’s easy to become jaded, compare one series to another or just wait for a successful studio to falter to prove your point. Listen, I’m guilty of doing this stuff myself. That said, I’ve also realized any TV series can be much more enjoyable by viewing it through fresh eyes. Forget what you know of The Dark Knight or Iron Man. Pretend The CW’s Arrow simply doesn’t exist. You know? I screened the first half of Iron Fist weeks before it hits Netflix, and though it’s far from perfect the negative backlash didn’t surprise me… All I can say is, it’s really not as awful as they’re making it out to be.
While I do think reading another’s takes on a subject is fascinating, opinions are like assholes… we’ve all got one, right? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying Iron Fist is the best new television series since Westworld. Ah, not by a long shot. However, I do feel it’s an entertaining entry and definitely worth a look.
You’ve heard all the reasons for skipping the show. Well, here are just a few reasons why you should check the series out.
One piece of the larger Marvel/Netflix puzzle.
Part of the fun of these Netflix shows is how they interconnect. Madame Gao (Wai Ching Ho) was introduced very early on in Daredevil, which even included a nod to Iron Fist. Aren’t you curious to see what part she plays in Danny Rand’s world? Is she the Crane Mother, ruler of K’un-Zi? Then of course, there’s Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson) who has appeared in each of the Marvel/Netflix shows and is the connective tissue between them. Is she the person responsible for bringing The Defenders together? I mean, she’s the only person that knows all of them, right? She’s also had her own encounters with The Hand, said to be the main antagonist of The Defenders mini-series. If you plan to watch The Defenders, don’t you want to see how Danny and Claire meet and how he fits into the bigger picture? Jeri Hogarth (Carrie-Anne Moss), the tough as nails lawyer we first encountered in Jessica Jones, gets involved here as well. While the connections to the MCU Films remain rather trivial, Iron Fist is heavy on the Netflix tie-ins.
Kick-ass female characters. You Go, Girls!
What do all the characters I just mentioned have in common? That’s right, they’re all strong females who play pivotal roles in the previous Netflix series. Well, Iron Fist does one better by introducing Colleen Wing (Jessica Henwick), who quite simply rocks. I guarantee you’re going to love her. If I had to pick one character that steals the show, it’s Colleen Wing (sorry Finn). Through Colleen’s blossoming relationship with Danny, the audience begins to connect with the billionaire Buddhist monk/martial arts expert. Her super dry sense of humor and no bullshit New Yorker attitude help ground the series. If Danny Rand as a character falls into the “white savior” trope category, it’s actually Colleen Wing that saves this Netflix series. That’s not to say Finn Jones is bad, on the contrary I think he does a terrific job with what he’s been given to work with. However, the women in Danny’s life are undoubtedly written more interestingly than Iron Fist himself.
Pacing issues? It’s Netflix for fRAKs sake…
I’ll admit, the first few episodes are sloooow and don’t hook you straight away. There’s more of a slow burn going on, as we get to know Danny and all the major players. However, with no week to week wait to see what happens next (as with Broadcast networks), what the hell is there to complain about? Once you’re three or four hours into the series, there’s going to be no stopping the binge. I can understand the frustration if you were forced to wait a week, then tune in only to learn nothing really happens. The storyline does not advance in the least. I have that problem with The Walking Dead. Which is why I watch three or four episodes at a time, rather than catching it live. The pilot for FX’s Legion was excellent, but the episodes that followed put me to sleep. That’s a show the critics have been praising unanimously too. Not once, did I nod off watching Iron Fist. The writing kept me engaged throughout and I’m dying to pick up where I left off.
good acting vs lame fights. Did the critics watch all 6 eps?
Danny is almost preternaturally disciplined, he doesn’t require as many moves as say Daredevil or other street fighters. The guy’s supposed to fight effortlessly. While I understand this may result in less than thrilling fight scenes, Jones handles the daunting task of selling it pretty well. Think Tilda Swinton (The Ancient One) in Doctor Strange. If you’re not hyper-focused on Danny, you’ll notice the craziness going on around him is actually more amusing. While Ray Park would have definitely nailed the martial arts sequences, Jones was chosen for his, “youthful optimism and badass attitude” according to showrunner Scott Buck. Again, Marvel/Netflix are looking at the bigger picture. As a matter of fact, Iron Fist may just set up Shang-Chi (à la Daredevil with Punisher) as the next Netflix spinoff. Will Shang-Chi the “Master of Kung-Fu” appear on the show? That’s another good reason to tune-in, no?
This hero’s not Daredevil, Iron Man, Batman or Green Arrow.
Sure, they’re all cut from the same cloth with very minor adjustments, but in order to suspend disbelief and enjoy Iron Fist, you’ve got to drop those comparisons altogether. Iron Fist is no Dark Knight, he’s a much a more positive and naive character. Jones is ridiculously likeable in the role and full of earnestness in a way that Charlie Cox is not on Daredevil. Danny Rand is a much younger soul than all those other guys, which is probably why folks are having a hard time pigeonholing him. That’s going to make for a wonderful friendship with Luke Cage. If everybody’s the ultimate badass, who’s going to learn from whom? Also, if the rumors that Marvel cast Shang-Chi in the show prove true, critics can give the cultural appropriation thing a rest. A blonde curly haired guy was cast, knowing full well that the true “Master of Kung-Fu” (Shang-Chi, created by Marvel first btw), will be getting his own series soon. Oh yeah, Lewis Tan does appear as Zhou Cheng and absolutely kills it. In the end, these Netflix shows are based on comic books written in the 60s & 70s… they’re never going to be perfect, simply entertaining. In that regard, Iron Fist does its job well.
Check back on Friday morning for our review. After you’ve watched Episode 101, of course. *Hint: I liked it 😉
All 13 episodes of Marvel’s Iron Fist begin streaming on Netflix March 17.