Number of Episodes: 13
Directors: John Dahl, Farren Blackburn, Uta Briesewitz. Deborah Chow, Andy Goddard, Peter Hoar, RZA, Miguel Sapochnik, Tom Shankland, Stephen Surjik, Kevin Tancharoen, Jet Wilkinson
Writers: Created by Scott Buck, written by Scott Buck, Gil Kane, Roy Thomas, Dwain Worrell, Tamara Becher, Pat Charles, Quinton Peeples, Scott Reynolds, Ian Stokes, Cristine Chambers
Starring: Finn Jones, Jessica Henwick, Jessica Stroup, Tom Pelphrey, David Wenham, Wai Ching Ho, Rosario Dawson, Barrett Doss, Ramon Rodriguez, Sacha Dhawan, Carrie-Anne Moss, and more.
Episode length: 50-60 minutes
If you are expecting to see a martial arts series in Iron Fist, you will be disappointed, because that’s not what it is.
After seeing two seasons of Marvel’s Daredevil and then awaiting Iron Fist, I wondered how the latter would distinguish itself from the former in terms of being a series that featured martial arts, Daredevil had already earned a lot of praise, admiration, and acclaim for its excellent fight scenes that featured several forms and styles of martial arts and I wondered how Iron Fist could compete with that without seeming like more of the same. The show’s creators came up with a solution I had not imagined, They didn’t even try.
Although Iron Fist does feature a few fight scenes, including a nice one with a drunken boxing style fighter, and a fight with some hatchet men in an elevator, that come close to competing with the stuff done on Daredevil, most of the fight scenes in this series are underwhelming and even mediocre in comparison to the other show.
Oddly enough the series about a super martial artist with special abilities chose to put its emphasis on different aspects of the production. Personal drama is the meat and potatoes of the show this time around. The sort of trope-filled comic book melodrama you often find in the source material, and the choice to take the series in this direction surprised me as much as I am sure it did many fans of the original comics. There is intrigue, deception, betrayals, heroics and villainy aplenty as you would expect to find in this sort of material, but a martial arts series it is not. I think this may explain why some people have been disappointed by Iron Fist. It simply wasn’t what they expected.
Over the last couple of days when doing my habitual browsing of the newsfeed I remember coming across a couple of headlines about this series and they didn’t sound promising, they contained words like ridiculed and mocked. Natrurally I became curious about why this would be the case. After all, the other Marvel shows on Netflix had been well received. and I had personally enjoyed the heck out of Dardevil and Luke Cage, and to a slightly lesser degree, the moodier Jessica Jones as well.
In case you have been living under a rock, or on a desert island, I should probably tell you that Marvel’s Iron Fist, or simply Iron Fist, is an American web television series created for Netflix by Scott Buck, based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name. It is set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), sharing continuity with the films of the franchise and is the fourth in a series of shows that will lead up to The Defenders crossover miniseries. The series is produced by Marvel Television in association with ABC Studios and Devilina Productions, with Buck serving as showrunner.
I have to admit after watching the first four episodes of this series, I was a little bored and disappointed as well, but I was determined to find out if this series had redeeming qualities in store in I persevered a little longer. I began to figure out the series had no intention of doing anything much different until episode seven when it picks up the pace a bit and things begin to get more interesting.
The story at this point has developed enough where the elements of the story were beginning to help shape an overall narrative and form a picture that was becoming increasingly engaging. It included the Hand, the crime syndicate with supernatural connections we were introduced to in Daredevil, and some other elements from the earlier shows. The Hand plays a big role in the narrative of this series.
In fact it began to look like Iron Fist was written to serve as a way of tying the storylines for the other series together and a way to fill in the blanks left over from those other shows. Although it has its own story and characters, its seems designed to serve that other function as well, as a sort of glue to hold the other show’s narratives together by using some of the same elements and even characters for the others story arcs we were already familiar with, and to create more of a foundation going forward into The Defenders the crossover series that is coming next
I began keeping a mental tally in terms of pros and cons, to help understand what I liked about this series, and what I didn’t. It should also help explain it to you, the reader, why ultimately i decided I liked this series (with reservations of course)
First of all regarding Danny Rand/Iron Fist (Finn Jones), the main character of the series, I felt he was both a pro and con in terms of liking this show. He never manages to muster the presence of a Matt Murdock, Luke Cage, or Jessica Jones, and for that reason this series is the weak link in the master plan.
My initial reaction to him was cool, but I began to warm up to him as the series progressed. This is an origin story, Danny is still trying to figure out who he is. The character seemed full of conflicting respones to his situation in some cases that didn’t make sense to me, for example he has been living in a monastery for 15 years and in very demanding environment requiring a lot of discipline, but his discipline seems to run hot and cold at times, being very well developed at times, and a moment later completely abandoning him.
Also it seems a little too easy for him adjusting to a modern urban lifestyle since he has never been exposed to a lot of the things he encounters in modern N.Y. Soon after he arrives he is shown hopping into his brand new Aston Martin, and seeming very much like a rich preppy kid who just got back from roughing it in Costa Rica for a few months, not someone who has been completely cut off from civilization for 15 years since he was a kid.
Danny is also depicted as having an existential crisis of sorts between his identity as Danny and that of Iron Fist. Oh boo-hoo. Its kind of difficult to feel sympathy for someone who has that much money and drives a brand new car that costs more money than some people earn in a lifetime.
Next we have the Meachums, who i have to put in the con column. The Meachums seemed to me to be not much more than a bunch of cliches the show squandered too much time on. Led by patriarch Harold (David Wenham), a somewhat bland version of a homicidal sociopathic rich business man we have seen many times before.
His daughter Joy (Jessica Stroup) seems the least damaged of the family which is not saying much, but her character didn’t seem to make a really worthwhile contribution to the show to create a valid enough reason for her to even be part of the story.
Sibling Ward (Tom Pelphrey) Joy’s brother is a real mess, he is an example of the well used Freudian trope of the weak-willed unambitious son who knows he disappoints his father and the show spends an inordinate amount of time portraying the dynamic between him and his dad Harold. See Ward drink too much, see Ward get strung out on drugs, see Ward get upset over and over again. Oh brother.
It jut seemed to me the whole amount of time the show spent on these three made the show seem more like a soap opera than anything else at times, and the attempt help bolster the main plot was time that could have been better spent.
Now for the pros. The other ladies of the show went a long way in helping keep this semi brick afloat. Starting with Colleen Wing (Jessica Henwick) a martial arts teacher that Danny meets and eventually becomes romantically involved with. Her contribution to the show became increasingly apparent, blending good acting with her gorgeous, sexy appearance, she is also very athletic and it became apparent she is more familiar with martial arts than the series leading man. Her fight scenes were some of the best in the show.
Another bright spot was Rosario Dawson reprising her role as the pragmatic, grounded, Claire Temple, Claire is becoming an old hand at this stuff, and this time around did good things reaffirming her role as a healer and and good friend to have in your corner when things get rough. Claire got more involved n some of the physical stuff this time around. It was a like a visit with a old friend seeing her again in this context.
Thee are several villains in this series but the main one is the evil crime organization, The Hand,represented by Madame Gao (Wai Ching Ho), who although we know she is unquestionably evil, somehow manages to remain enigmatic. She is ancient and apparently not entirely human. Wai Ching Ho is a treat to behold in the role, and manages to steal every scene she is in, her delivery, her presence, and even the way she walks adds up to a delightful experience and it was a pleasant surprise to see her again.
The show is not as bad as you may have heard, if you been seeing the same articles I have. I avoided reading them, because I wanted to form an opinion of it on my own without being influenced by the opinions of others.
While its not up to the high standards established by the other Marvel/Netflix series Iron Fist blends some classic comic book adventure, mystery, and action, with a touch of the supernatural, into a production that ultimately is pretty entertaining if given a chance.