Marvel’s Iron Fist has now been out a weekend, and it’s garnered a lot of attention. Unfortunately, unlike its predecessor, the focus has been less than kind. Criticisms abound about two-dimensional characters with questionable development and behaviors. Reviews talk about poor acting, story, and fight choreography, and even the hopes the show would address the “white savior” trope and Orientalism origins of the comic were shattered.
However, I’m not here to rehash the same old critiques and arguments. I saw all of these problems and moved past them as I binged the latest in Netflix’s take on the MCU. As the series dragged on, however, some things just began to bug me. That’s why I’m here to comment on the aspects that made no sense to me in Iron Fist. Sure, some might say I’m nitpicking, but I’ve got pretty low standards when it comes to movies and television. For something to bug me, even to the end of an entire season? That’s worth pointing out.
Danny Rand’s Obsession with Hip-Hop
This complaint is probably the most minor, but it just hit me every time he fired up that iPod. Look, I’m a music lover of every genre; my collection spans thousands of songs from multiple styles. Yet, for a 10-year-old home-schooled, rich, White kid to listen to nothing but early-00’s rap seems… odd.
Sure, my 5-year-old enjoys the occasional Wu-Tang or Cypress Hill song, but he also doesn’t understand the lyrics as he sings about how he “likes it raw.” Besides, he also loves Daft Punk, Metallica, the theme to Little Einsteins, and anything involving the word “booty” or “butt.” I highly doubt, even in his more worldly and down-to-earth upbringing that he’ll listen to nothing but Outkast or Killah Priest.
Danny Rand’s iPod
Speaking of which, how does Danny have a working iPod? When he arrives in New York, he’s a shoeless bum who’s spent the last 15 years in a mystical Himalayan monastery. Yet, here he is listening to his favorite hip-hop like he hasn’t missed the last decade of technological advancement.
Yes, his parents were wealthy, and it’s not unlikely that he owned a 1st-gen iPod. What are the chances, however, that it would still work after all this time? Judging by what little they showed or referenced, it’s not like K’un-Lun had charging stations (or even electricity). Given the state of technology, it would be amazing if his iPod’s mp3s or O/S hadn’t become corrupted years ago, and it was nothing but a hunk of plastic and circuits. Not to mention, what are the chances the songs he was listening to were even available in electronic format at the time?
Inconsistent Fighting Skill
Even bypassing the fight choreography critiques, there seemed to be a problem in staying consistent with the level of mastery certain characters had. Danny is supposed to have spent 15 years training as one of the most badass martial artists, even without the Iron Fist. Sometimes they show this, as he takes down a group of Triads or spars with a fellow martial artist, and goes untouched. An episode or two later, however, and he’s being battered by hired mercenaries or receiving injuries from Hand thugs.
The same is true about Colleen Wing, who gets martial arts “whitesplained” to her by Danny, yet later reveals she’s been trained by masters and fights Hand leaders. Let’s not even get into how several months of training leads to “Kung Fu Nurses in China.” It’s almost like how good each character was at fighting had nothing to do with consistency and more about how they wanted to tell the story at that moment.
Inconsistent Iron Fist
The title of the show is “Iron Fist.” The main character is the “Iron Fist.” He earned the mystical technique known as the “Iron Fist.” Yet, you barely saw the damned thing the whole show! It was like 2014’s Godzilla all over again.
Most of the time, it was only used to break down doors or walls, something we’ve already seen with much better presentation. Only a couple of other occasions was it used with some creativity, like blocking a weapon (and breaking it). They even threw in the caveat that it drains his chi and he can only use it so often… but that doesn’t explain why it didn’t show up doing something cool in each episode.
In fact, it was only the final episode that he started using it as the true Iron Fist. I’m sure people will say, “Well, his training wasn’t complete” like he was a Skywalker or something. However, if he was trained enough to be standing guard at the gates of K’un-Lun, you’d think he’d be using it the same way his predecessors did.
New York: City of Naivety
You’d think when someone was acting weird all the time or had stabbed you in the back (sometimes literally), you’d have enough of them. The amount of trust, however, by characters in Iron Fist was astounding, even when confronted with insurmountable evidence. Characters consistently lied to each other, were at each other’s throats, and even tried to kill each other (sometimes succeeding). An episode or two later, though? Some acted like it was no big deal, refused to believe it, or even joined forces.
Are people in New York that daft? It was like no one gave a damn about the treachery or how obviously up-to-something people were. You could sell each one of the characters the Brooklyn Bridge and even try to push them off it, and then they’d be your ally one episode later.
New York: City of Obliviousness
Why was New York so completely clueless to what was going on? In Daredevil, Murdock’s activities, the Punisher, the Hand’s attack on the hospital, etc. are all over the news. In Luke Cage, all of Harlem (and much of the city) pays attention, and a crowd surrounds his showdown. Yet, Iron Fist has gunfire, explosions, and swords happening everywhere, from Chinatown to the wealthiest skyscrapers… and not one person is talking about it?
Not to mention, I’ve been in New York at night. Since when is the city so damned empty? How could martial artists have duels in the middle of parks and tourist attractions, and no one sees it? Even walking through North Harlem at 3:00 a.m., there was the occasional passerby or taxi.
The “Fingers” of the Hand
Could someone explain what the MCU’s version of the Hand is? They started as a mysterious legion of undead ninjas bent on world domination. Suddenly they’re nothing more than a powerful organized crime syndicate running drugs with armed mercenaries. Oh wait, that’s a “rogue” faction while the “true” Hand is a collegiate cult creating an army out of downtrodden youth. Could someone please tell me what happened to the great enemy at war with the Chaste?
It’s almost like the showrunners took a playbook from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. How much more “this is the true Hydra” nonsense could they pull? You’d think if the Hand were that discordant, they’d never have become the legendary Illuminati everyone mentions in whispers.
Iron Fist… you’re full of holes.
Look, we expect to have some inconsistencies or strangeness throughout the series. These are comic book adaptations, and they’re not known for their uniformity themselves. Yet, you’d think at some point someone would have said, “Wait a minute… why are we doing this? Does that make sense?”
Here’s hoping that The Defenders makes up for this road bump in the Netflix series. Maybe a little more attention to detail will fix all the errors they made with Iron Fist. Otherwise, I doubt this branch of the MCU will be “so fresh, so clean” when the next phase comes around.