So I know I post a lot of Nintendo stuff here on Outerhaven, that’s honestly my job. But, I also am a fan of TV, movies, and comics. So, when a few of those end up crossing over, I can’t help but be excited. I love both DC Comics and Marvel equally. I enjoy many of their TV series and films. But I’m also not afraid to call out those instances where the show or film doesn’t live up to the hype or expectations in my opinion.
For those who don’t know, I write comics, and I write novels, and I write fanfics too (I love writing original content in my favorite shows, what can I say?), and I tend to look at these shows not just as a fan, but as a writer. So when I heard about the Iron Fist criticisms a few weeks back, I didn’t want to listen to them, because opinions are different. However, after watching it, I can see they were right.
Now, Sara is going to have the official Outerhaven review up a little later this week, but I’m going a bit beyond a review to state why Iron Fist doesn’t work for me. Or at the very least, doesn’t compare to the quality of the show that Marvel has put on in their previous outings.
1. I Don’t Care About Danny Rand
Now, I don’t mean this like a, “I don’t care about him because he’s a crap comic character” kind of thing. I mean in it as a “the show didn’t give me a reason to care about him” kind of deal. Let me explain.
With Daredevil, you cared about Matt Murdock because you feel the pain he felt as he tried to save the Kitchen from threats both with the law and above the law. You felt bad when it didn’t seem he could win in either, and you cheered when he did get victories, no matter how small.
With Jessica Jones, you felt horrified when you learned what happened to her with Kilgrave, and you were totally for her when she led her crusade to stop him for good.
Then, with Luke Cage, you understood that Luke just wanted to live his life without the burden of his past. Of course, once that failed and then he decided to try and save Harlem, you with him in that quest.
However, Iron Fist and Danny Rand’s journey just didn’t work. His focus and personality were all over the place, and even when he had memorable moments, they were short lived. One of my favorite moments was when he used the fist to descend down the elevator. He did a prayer and said, “This…is probably going to hurt, though.”, that bit was funny!
I wish they had focused more on the man Danny had become in Kun Lun instead of having him act as an emotional child. Because I find it hard to believe that 15 years of training in a monastery wouldn’t focus him more than we saw. Yes, he was focused on points, but it was very erratic.
2. Failed Plot Points
With Iron Fist, there were too many plots bouncing around, and it just wouldn’t settle on one. It wasn’t a compelling narrative from start to finish. To me anyway. Seeing Danny struggle for people to believe who he was honestly wasn’t compelling because it dragged out too long. And even then, you knew that a simple chat (as proved with Jeri Hogarth) would end all doubt, yet no one but her would allow that to happen.
Then, the story became about fixing Rand…until it was about the Hand…then the Hand in the company…then back to Hand…it just kept bouncing around. The first season of the show shouldn’t do that. It should have a singular threat. Daredevil Season 01 had that, as did Jessica Jones. With Daredevil Season 02 and Luke Cage, the threats became more numerous, and the shows suffered in the back half because of that (in my opinion).
Iron Fist started out with enemies on all sides, and by the time they were “dealt with”, I really couldn’t care less.
Plus, plot points that should’ve been discussed or elaborated on were simply brushed off. “Why did Danny come back after 15 years?” Answer: “The way opened.” That’s it. Oh, and he “saw a sign.” That’s incredibly weak and didn’t fly for me.
3. Lack Of Kun Lun Influences
When the first true trailer for Iron Fist released, a lot of people noted that it had a lot of similarities to the DC show Arrow, and I won’t deny that there are numerous connections, though obviously unintentional. However, one thing that I wish the show did share with Arrow was flashbacks. More specifically, flashbacks to Danny’s time in Kun Lun.
For all the talk about what Danny did in Kun Lun, there wasn’t a lot of show to back it up. There was one scene where he was beaten. A chat with Davos at the gate (with a FAR away view of Kun Lun), and then a glimpse of the cave where we met the “dragon”.
This was a serious missed opportunity. We could have seen how Danny progressed from a 10-year-old boy to Iron Fist. In fact, one plot point that’s glossed over is why the monks took in Danny or even allowed them to train with him. This could’ve helped with that a lot.
Now, we did get one GREAT moment that tied back to Kun Lun when one of Danny’s master “appeared” to him and guided him through the Hand Gauntlet, but that was the only time it happened. Why show it once, but then not show it again?
Then, at the end, when Kun Lun “was gone”…I didn’t care. At all.
4. Uneven Supporting Cast
This was a big one for me, as the supporting casts in the Marvel Cinematic Universe shows are usually very good. Karen Page, Foggy Nelson, Trish Walker, Misty Knight. All those characters key in what made each of those shows great. With Iron Fist? The best we got was Colleen Wing, and then a late/gone-to-soon entrant with Davos. The rest were kind of sad.
Oh, and Claire Temple was great. Claire is always great, just saying.
The Meachum’s a trio that made for very confusing television at times. Joy was ok, but then at the end, she was up for entertaining the idea of killing Danny Rand to get her life back…even though he wasn’t the cause of like any of her problems. Ward was a jerk, then an addict, then a killer, then a friend, and now Danny’s business partner…huh? And Harold? Oh gosh, let’s just not. I dig the actor who played him, I really do, but this show failed him.
Seriously, though, I truly only cared about Colleen Wing, and she was great. Her story was honestly the most developed in the ENTIRE show. That’s…sad. It really is. I’m not the only one who thinks this, as many are calling for her to be the lead in a “Daughters of the Dragon” spinoff…and I’m not going to argue that.
5. Rotating Villains
For every hero, a villain. That’s how the saying goes. Daredevil had Kingpin, then the Hand. Jessica had Kilgrave. Luke had Cottonmouth and Diamondback. Danny? He had Gao…then Bakuto…then Harold…and yet only one of them felt menacing.
Gao was great from the moment she entered Daredevil, and it made sense that she’d come back here. But instead of focusing on her, they decided to replace her, then bring her back, and then replace her again. Why?
As for the Hand itself, it didn’t make sense at times that there are “different factions” in the group. Especially since we didn’t see that in Daredevil either season. So they came off as very weak.
Plus, that final arc/battle with Harold? That was so rushed, so confusing, so filled with plot holes that his death (yet again…again…) didn’t mean anything. It was just a means to an end. The end of the season that is.
6. Lackluster Fighting
You’d think a show about a martial artist would feature some of the best fights in Marvel history. Yet, Iron Fist to me failed to top Daredevil, which is sad, because Danny is a better fighter than Daredevil (in the comics at least).
At points, we did get good fights, but not all of them were with Danny. He was at times very inconsistent. He’s supposed to be a master of multiple martial arts, which he shows off to Colleen and others. Yet at times, he can’t handle simple goons. Now yes, some are part of the Hand, but others weren’t. Others were just regular people, yet Danny couldn’t beat them easily. I know that would make for a quick fight scene and episode. But you need to show why he’s the best fighter in Kun Lun, and maybe the world. This didn’t do that. At all.
For the record, if you watch Iron Fist, and you like it, great! I’m honestly glad you do. Cause even one person liking the show gives it meaning. But for me, and me alone, I just can’t say too many good things about it. Which is sad, because I know this will affect Defenders in a way that I know it shouldn’t.