Claire Temple: Danny, you’re not the first friend of mine with special powers. They’re all dark, haunted people. You know, when I first met you in Colleen’s dojo, I couldn’t help but notice that you had this sweet innocence, but the more you continue to fight against something that happened fifteen years ago, a fight you can’t possibly win, the darker you become.
Danny Rand (Finn Jones), billionaire kid who survived the plane crashed over the Himalayas which killed his parents, he is presumed dead as well. He’s found by some monks at K’un Lun and taken to their monastery where he was raised and trained eventually becoming the Iron Fist, sworn enemy to The Hand. His power is basically channeling his chi into his fist which starts glowing and then he can punch through solid brick and metal walls and also block bullets.
After 15 years in K’un Lun, he goes back to New York and tries to get in touch with his father’s friend, Harold Meachum, and his childhood friends, Ward and Joy Meachum. He goes through the trouble of convincing people he’s not dead and reintegrating into society.
Then it seems like the Hand has been using Rand corporation to smuggle synthetic heroin into NY, your run-of-mill political corruption. Danny finds out and fights them. He also enlists the help of Colleen Wing; she was the first person Danny met in NY and he crashed at her dojo several times. Wing owns a dojo and tries to get troubled kids off the street. There’s also some serious family drama between the Meachums and with Danny as well. The Hand also messes things up for them, and apparently there are several factions of the Hand. Then throw in Davos, Danny’s friend from K’un Lun, who comes to NY in order to drag Danny back to K’un Lun.
Claire Temple: You let me think that I was actually doing something to stop them.
Character unnamed to avoid spoilers: We were! There are different groups within the Hand, okay? I am part of one that is trying to help people.
Claire Temple: Then did you think about trying a different name for the group? Like, the Ear? Or the Arm?
As you could probably see from my summary, the show was terrible. It’s like one long, excruciating, cheesy, cringe. The plot resembles that of one of the old Spider-Man movies where there are three villains and no point to the whole movie. The plot was weak and lacked direction, heck there was no plot. Unless you consider ninja guy trying to take on other ninja dudes and sort through family drama. The whole premise was weak and hokey, it was pretty damn hard to suspend your disbelief.
Sometimes when the plot of the show or narrative arch sucks, the characters (their development, dynamic, conflicts, etc…) holds it up instead. But that doesn’t happen here. The characters were superficial, the dialogue was painful and lame, and the dynamic was ridiculous. You would have two characters fighting over one thing and in a split second become best buds, it doesn’t give you a chance to savor the conflict and appreciate the resolution. It’s like the Martha moment in BvS, ridiculous and superficial.
My favorite part of the show was Claire Temple, as you could probably tell. My oh my, how I adore Claire Temple…Rosario Dawson is fantastic. I can go on and on about her. She brings the show to life and it was the only reason I watched it. Her witty comments, her sarcasm and cynicism, her eye-rolls and “so done with you” attitude, man she’s a national treasure. Hands down, the best supporting character in the Marvel EU, I would place here right up there with Phil Coulson. Next to Claire I would say Joy Meachum was my favorite, she was the only character who was “human” as opposed to being a cringe in the form of a human. I loved her character and the way she is morally conflicted, she’s somewhat like a blend between Matt Murdock and Cersei Lannister. And it doesn’t hurt that Jessica Stroup looks pretty damn fine…but I won’t venture into that dangerous territory in fear of embarrassing myself.
Claire Temple: [to herself] Hey, Claire. How was your trip to China? Oh, you know We committed arson, and then got killed by an evil ninja cult. It was great. What’d you do this weekend?
Speaking of acting, aside from Dawson and, everyone else was atrocious. Finn Jones and Jessica Henwick, always have that fake serious look on their face, like they’re trying to be serious but they end up looking constipated. And the “chemistry” between them is like something from a trashy romance novel, especially when you compare it to Luke and Claire or Elektra and Matt.
The fighting scenes and training montages are something I look forward to in the Netflix Marvel series, I think we can all agree they set a new standard for fighting scenes. In the second episode or so, Iron Fist tries to replicate Daredevil’s famous hallway fight scene (which is probably the best fight scene in the entire Marvel Universe rivaled only by Cap’s Elevator fight in Winter Soldier) but Danny’s hallway fight was a lame disaster. It was like a fight from B- 80s kung fu movie. And this goes as well for all the other fights.
Even the overall aesthetics of the show were lousy. In Daredevil you get the red and black hues of Hell’s Kitchen, in Jessica Jones you get the violets and dark purples, etc… but here it lacks that aesthetic, it doesn’t have an overall theme even in terms of cinematography. Oh and the music was lame as well. I think the first three defender series set a really high bar and Iron Fist failed miserably.
Now the biggest concern with Iron Fist is the whitewashing controversy. I know, I know, why get into politics but you can’t talk Iron Fist without talking politics and whitewashing. I understand that the show itself doesn’t technically engage in any whitewashing since it is only using the source material from the comic where the character there was white which makes the comic creators the culprit. Nonetheless, Marvel has been showing signs of diversity that isn’t necessarily that “check-box” token diversity and so as a fan I was expecting them to right some wrongs and cast an Asian or Asian-American actor for the role of Danny Rand. But it doesn’t end here, the whole exoticsizing of Asian culture and practices, the stereotypical Kung-Fu monasteries, and the white dude who trumps the Asians at their own game I’m sick of it. My problem with Iron Fist is almost identical to the Doctor Strange controversy with the Wise One. Maybe they didn’t mean that and it was innocent, but c’mon can’t we have Asian ninjas? And can we please stop making other cultures exotic subjects and explore them with appreciation rather than appropriation or condescension?
Score: 2.5/5, and had it not been for Claire Temple this would be a 0.5/5