Well… it was bound to happen, even though the MCU already had some missteps like Iron Man 2, Thor: The Dark World, Season 1 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and to some The Incredible Hulk and Captain America: The First Avenger, no other MCU project failed as hard as Netflix’s Iron Fist. It was surprising how almost everything in Iron Fist was either bland or generic.
This may be nitpick-y, but it was possibly the first red flag I discovered from Iron Fist, the opening credits, there are many elements on the opening credits that fall short, there’s potential, but it never delivers (something that stays true for the show ahead).
The Iron Fist’s opening lacks energy, the music is way too dull and low, the animation is sub par, I’m pretty sure that fans out there who know how to animate can deliver a better looking opening credits than what we got; the colors, while the Netflix shows haven’t been bright, colorful and shiny, the opening credits make great use of the character’s signature colors red (Daredevil), purple (Jessica Jones) and yellow (Luke Cage), while Iron Fist’s openings are mostly black and dull dark greens; finally while each of the other openings tells you interesting stories (Daredevil’s show you the defining elements of the characters: New York, law and religion; Jessica Jones’ shows you the job of a P.I. from Jessica’s point of view and Luke Cage’s bring Harlem to life and shows you that Harlem is an important part of who Luke is) Iron Fist opening is just a man practicing Kung Fu in front of K’un-L’un and New York.
LACK OF IDENTITY
There’s this great thing about the other Netflix shows, that you can see lacking from Iron Fist from basically the get go, while Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Iron Fist have a distinct look and feeling from the get go, Iron Fist fails to establish itself as its own entity from the get go. The photography of Daredevil told you right away that you just entered the dark and gritty side of the MCU, from the first scene of Jessica Jones you could feel how it was inspired by noir films, the music used for Luke Cage gave the show a unique feeling, differentiating itself from the previous Netflix shows, but Iron Fist? From what we got on the first episode, you could put what we got from early Iron First in almost every other TV show or movie, and it wouldn’t feel out-of-place, Iron Fist lacks any element of tone, music or photography that tells you right away “You’re watching Iron Fist, let me show you what makes it unique.”
BLAND ORIGINAL CHARACTERS AND POOR WRITING
It may be the fact that he got separated from society at 10 years old… but Danny Rand is possibly the most naive, uncharismatic and personality-free character in the MCU, which is either the writing team’s fault, Finn Jones acting or both. It’s infuriating to see how through the series you can see so many characters clearly manipulating Rand, how painfully long it takes for him to realize the truth behind his parents’ death and how much he goes back and forth between accepting his responsibilities as Iron Fist or living his life as Danny Rand.
There’s also Jessica Stroup, who you can see trying as hard as she can to make Joy Meachum an interesting character, but being stuck with cringe-worthy material and odd character development moments, the most appalling moment being that despite her caring for Danny throughout all the series, it looks like suddenly she’ll be okay with killing him in the future.
And on then there’s Tom Pelphrey’s Ward Meachum, who is at times a complex character and sometimes a moustache twirling villain, who does evil thing just because there needs to be bad things happening in this world. There’s this flashback scene in one of the early episodes of Iron Fist of young Danny Rand playing with the Meachum siblings, where suddenly Ward becomes an asshole just because his father never loved him like Danny parents do.
The Meachum siblings had a lot of potential to be compelling characters, but thanks to the bland writing on the series and the poorly written character development most of the times they feel like characters plucked out of Soap Operas.
Not much to say here, another boring, forgettable villain for the MCU which is a shame when compared to other villains the Marvel Netflix shows delivered like Wilson Fisk, Killgrave, Maria Dillard, Shades, and Cottonmouth. Harold Meachum was a poorly executed character, and another case of a character being evil just because we need someone evil, a mess of a character from beginning to end.
THE FIGHT CHOREOGRAPHY
Most of Iron Fist’s fight choreography look uninteresting and uninspired, you can see the actors (especially Fin Jones) just hitting the marks, the opening credits of the show are perhaps the high point of fight choreography, and when you have a show based around Kung Fu… well, that’s just sad.
BUT WHAT WORKED?
IMMORTAL EMERGES FROM CAVE
So, if you stick with Iron Fist long enough to reach its 6th episode, you’ll experience the high point of the series “Immortal Emerges from Cave” directed by RZA, which in just a matter of minutes introduce both Scythe and the Bride of Nine Spiders, who just in a matter of minutes become far more interesting characters and villains than any of the Meachums. This episode directed by RZA in probably the most entertaining and includes the best fights of the season, it all just goes downhill from here.
COLLEEN WING AND THE RETURNING WOMEN
While Jessica Henwick’s Colleen Wing is as inconsistent as all the other characters that debuted on the show, she’s still the most interesting characters of the new ones, Henwick has some of the most interesting fights in the series, and her “crisis of faith” near the end of the series, is a more interesting character development than anything that happened to Danny Rand throughout the series, I ended up wishing that we’d have gotten a Misty Knight/Colleen Wing series instead of Iron Fist.
Rosario Dawson’s Claire Temple and Carrie Anne Moss’ Jeri Hogarth return to Iron Fist and through them you experience the most personality you’ll ever experience from this series. Hogarth’s cynicism feels refreshing between the never-ending blandness this series throws at you, and while Temple’s role’s in the series feels somewhat forced, Iron Fist continues the character development from Claire Temple to the Night Nurse and you’ll most likely appreciate the small amount of comic relief her character brings to the show.
And then there’s Wai Ching Ho’s Madame Gao who has been an intriguing character since her introduction way back in Daredevil Season 1, I was so excited when all the signs pointed at her being the Big Bad of Iron Fist, but sadly, she’s relegated to a secondary villain to the far less interesting Meachums, and while the Meachums never feel like a threat, there’s an uneasiness present every time Gao is on-screen, even with her frail exterior Gao feels like one of the biggest threats in the series.