It has this eager and hopeless air about it, an ugly shelter dog that wants to be loved despite its crude proportions, its hurried design. But, in the past couple of weeks, Iron Fist has found itself floundering in the light of one socially charged controversy.
This is the first Netflix/Marvel show that has been critically panned before its debut. The Hollywood Reporter's Daniel Fienberg wrote that the series "feels like a step backward on every level, a major disappointment that already suffers from storytelling issues through the first six episodes made available to critics and would probably be mercifully skippable in its entirety if it weren't the bridge into the long-awaited Defenders crossover series". Normally, Danny wouldn't even break a sweat facilitating an escape, but the drugs the doctors are forcing him to take every eight hours have numbed him to the point where he's unable to focus his chi - which is what enables him to call upon the power of the Iron Fist. With them, it borders on unconscionable.
Netflix's Iron Fist debuts tonight at midnight, and despite the critical shellacking the series has taken over the past week, the show must go on. Essaying the character of Danny Rand/Iron Fist is Finn Jones of the Game Of Thrones fame. "He's looking to do good in the world and he has this other life as Iron Fist". Iron Fist ends with his attempting to return to K'un L'un - and finding it gone, disappeared, with its guards murdered by Hand weapons. They proposed that Madame Gao might have a connection to K'un-Lun, the mystical city that can only periodically be reached from our dimension, where Danny Rand trained. Its plotting is disjointed and erratic, while character motivations change like weather-leaving the actors completely unmoored, unable to make any real choices because the people they're playing make no sense.
One serious complaint reviewers have is that the show lacks action and originality.
"Danny Rand may have remained true to its source material but our show incorporates and celebrates actors from all different backgrounds", Jones said. Eventually, anyway. The first few episodes of the show aren't sure what to do with Colleen, so they have her participate in underground cage fights and lecture some urban teens. Bless these shows from across the pond for actually leaving you wanting more, with only four breezy episodes in the first season, introducing the winningly winsome Amy Huberman as Tara Rafferty, a Dublin lawyer who's tougher than she looks. There's an energy in her performance that seems to be missing everywhere else. "He definitely needs her more than the other way around". That might all sound like the makings of a complex and interesting character, but there's no weight behind any of it, no shape or texture or objective. Still, whatever happens then, for now fans may finally have a reason to be interested in Iron Fist again.
More damningly, the fight scenes - something vital to a show built around a martial arts whiz - are inferior to better-choreographed sequences in the earlier Netflix Marvel shows. "We need more stories like that and God bless Netflix and Marvel for making those characters and making that statement in the show". Iron Fist, like a lot of Netflix dramas, expects you to sit through what's very likely to be a glacial 10 or so episodes before maybe picking up in the final quarter.