It’s been a week since Iron Fist was first released on Netflix and so, like countless others, I finally finished watching the last Defender’s debut season. It wasn’t a perfect series to say the least but to be quite honest, it wasn’t a complete let-down as critics made it out to be. Iron Fist had its moments but it’s no Jessica Jones (or Daredevil? I can’t be entirely sure about that one since I – confession time – haven’t seen the Daredevil series).
In short, Iron Fist has potential. It has some stand-out characters but it was dragged down by its story and lacklustre visuals.
Iron Fist follows the return of Danny Rand to the “real world” after spending the last 15 years assumed dead while training in K’un Lun and becoming the titular Iron Fist. The show centres around Danny’s struggle with his identity: is he Danny Rand or the Iron Fist? How Danny grapples with that affects those around him; particularly the Meachums who Danny grew up with and now run Rand Enterprises due to his presumed death.
However, Danny’s reappearance is not received warmly. Early in the season, it revolves around how Danny can reclaim his place in Rand Enterprises. But when he achieves that goal, he brushes it aside due to a larger threat looming around: The Hand.
The Hand, an established villain organisation from Daredevil, carefully orchestrates itself through the latter half of the season. It becomes confusing who to trust and who to fight but it all comes to the same conclusion: no one can be trusted. The story becomes messy as there are too many villains to keep up with and those who died on screen cannot be trusted to stay dead as coming back to life is a normal occurrence in this world.
In the end, the show struggles to find itself alongside Danny’s struggle to find himself. It has its moments but the story inevitably ends up to be a revenge plot against those who’ve wronged Danny in the past and in the present.
After (spoilers for those who haven’t caught up with Game of Thrones) the death of Loras, Finn Jones moves from one franchise to another and takes on the role of Danny Rand – the new Iron Fist. His performance as the final Defender to grace our screens is passable and inconsistent. However his naiveté about the world makes him a frustrating character to root for, especially since he’s our protagonist. There could have been so much more that the character could offer but that’s another post for another time.
His partner-in-crime is Colleen Wing played by Jessica Henwick – another GoT alumni. She makes the character so much more than just a love interest and retains her dry sense of humour and no-nonsense, bad-ass personality after said love is made. Colleen is a great character who overshadows the real protagonist and deserves much more screen time.
Another ally of Danny’s is Claire Temple who reprises her role from previous appearances in the Marvel Netflix series. Out of all her appearances outside of Daredevil, she really comes to life in Iron Fist – tired of encountering people with special abilities.
The Meachums constantly walk along the thin line between friend and foe. While Harold is clearly a character not to be trusted, I think Ward is a more complex character who seems much more interesting compared to our protagonist. Joy, on the other hand, is seemingly innocent and comes with good intentions though where that leads her might not be on the cleanest of paths.
This will be a brief section but needs some highlighting because as someone who studied about film and television, it was hard not to notice some weird shots that were chosen in the final cut. Even the fight scenes weren’t as thrilling despite the show revolving around martial arts. If anything, Colleen’s cage matches were the biggest highlight for me personally.
Every single shot should either reveal something, focus on an action or character, or set the scene – all within the stylistic boundaries that the show established. There were some sloppy shots within fight scenes and faces were blocked for no reason. And these shots never added any deeper meaning or fit with the aesthetic confines of the show.
The show had potential to show off an entirely new style that sets it apart from its predecessors – much like Doctor Strange did for the Marvel films. However, the visuals of Iron Fist are unspectacular and put an abnormal situation in a normal light.
So should you watch Iron Fist? In a word or two, why not? It’s a good show to have in the background as white noise or if you keep up with all the Marvel shows that are released. I want to look at the positives of the show and while it’s not the best of the best, it has potential to improve if there is a season two.