Iron Fist had a rough go of it coming out of the gate. Between the across-the-board panning and Finn Jones’ tendency to repeatedly put his foot in his mouth, it tempered what would’ve normally been the public excitement typical for a Netflix Marvel show, but as can be the case with these things: the criticism was overstated. While the show isn’t perfect, it’s by no means the abomination its been made out to be. However, we at Pop Culture Uncovered like to give things a fair shot, and in this case I’d like to go over what Iron Fist got right and where it stumbled. While I’m generally averse to numbered lists, it doesn’t hurt to show the pros and cons at times.
What Iron Fist got right:
- Pacing has been something of an issue for the Netflix Marvel series. With thirteen episodes often focused on singular plots, that leaves a lot of time to fill, and bigger isn’t always better. With the exception of perhaps the first season of Daredevil, the Netflix series have an issue with having enough story to fill thirteen episodes, which can create a problem of having filler or fluff to fill the runtime. Iron Fist on first impression doesn’t have that problem so far. It’s not burning through a remarkable amount of plot, but it’s also not intentionally hitting the brakes before the climax, and that it has a supporting cast that’s been allowed to breathe without Danny’s constant presence allows for other stories to be told within and outside the seasonal plot.
- To say Jessica Hesnick is one of the best parts of Iron Fist as Colleen Wing would be an understatement. So far one of the universally liked parts of the show has been her performance as Colleen. That she has a more tangible character arc and goals than Danny, along with bringing easier to render action as a follower of the Bushido code, and being one of the few Asian characters on a show that dangerously veers towards being White Privilege The TV Show. With any luck, Hesnick will get the same love Jon Berenthal has as the Punisher and headline her own spinoff.
- Harold Meachum. Just Harold Meachum. Without spoiling his role in the story: David Wenham does a fantastic job of capturing how screwed up Meachum, is without falling into outright farce like Diamond back in Luke Cage. While the goals of the Iron Fist villains are a tad benign compared to the more allegorical villainy of previous Netflix shows, if nothing else Wenham can carry a lot of weight.
What Iron Fist got wrong:
- Finn Jones’ casting as Iron Fist is to say the least… troubled. Setting aside that controversy, while it is understandable that certain things get compromised when the show moved from casting to production so quickly, Finn Jones just doesn’t work in the context of the show. Even ignoring the issues with his fight scenes, Jones lacks charisma and chemistry with the rest of the cast.So far, it’s hard not to see him as a low-energy take on what Stephen Amell has spent years doing on Arrow, and it harms the show when the principal lead isn’t pulling his weight. One would hope that Jones will have more time to grow into the role by the time Defenders comes around, but so far that seems like a faint possibility.
- The most frustrating thing about the show though has been the fight scenes. While there have been bright spots like the Colleen Wing cage match, the show has largely had pretty lax fight scenes. Between the obvious lack of training for Finn Jones, the lack of impact, and the reliance on editing tricks to carry the weight, Iron Fist has had a hard time rating to say Daredevil in terms of carrying on a good fight scene. Which isn’t to say they’re everything, but on a show with martial arts, it’s a tad more important than usual.
- The story is hindered by basically being built around the other Netflix shows. Claire Temple aside, the show largely functions as the equivalent of an Iron Man 2, Daredevil Season 2, or Thor working to set building blocks for the next big thing. While Iron Fist is good, it’s been hindered by having no central theme like its predecessor shows. It seems to solely exist to set up Defenders with story being built to facilitate that.
This isn’t a comprehensive list of course. More of a first look than anything else, but the show is pretty obviously riddled with flaws. Not enough to render it unwatchable, but enough that there’s a lot that needs to be fixed.