Age Rating: Violence
Finn Jones as Danny Rand/Iron Fist
Jessica Henwick as Colleen Wing
Tom Pelphrey as Ward Meachum
Jessica Stroup as Joy Meachum
Ramón Rodríguez as Bakuto
Sacha Dhawan as Davos
Rosario Dawson as Claire Temple
David Wenham as Harold Meachum
Created by: Scott Buck
When Danny Rand (Finn Jones) was 10-years old, he survived a mysterious plane crash that claimed the lives of his extremely wealthy parents. Rescued by warrior monks, Danny grew up in the of city of K’un-Lun, where he endured harsh conditions, but also trained to be a fierce warrior. Years later, Danny returns home to New York, where he wants to reconnect with his past and take his rightful place at his family’s company, which is being run by his father’s former business partner (David Wenham). Danny hopes to restore his family legacy by defeating the people who threaten it.
Most of the Netflix Marvel shows had received great reception, with the two seasons of Daredevil, as well as the first seasons of Jessica Jones and Luke Cage. The exception is Season 1 of Iron Fist, which has been almost universally panned. Having finally seeing it, I have to say that this first season has a lot of issues but it is a decent show overall. The acting from most of the talented cast is good, the show is reasonably entertaining and interesting enough, and I wanted to see where the plot would go. But writing-wise it does have a lot of issues, doesn’t quite live up to its potential and the action scenes are most of the time just mediocre. However they aren’t enough to make this season bad or even mediocre, just very flawed.
I’ll just get this out of the way, if you like the other shows in the Defenders’ series, or you are interested in watching the recently released The Defenders show, watch Iron Fist season 1, even if you end up disliking it, you will need to plow through it. Some of what Iron Fist has will come to play in The Defenders, so it is a good idea to watch it. The show does have a lot of writing issues, probably too many to list in one review, so I’ll just mention a few. The show is slow, particularly at the beginning. If you’ve seen Luke Cage season 1, you know that they sometimes had some filler episodes. Iron Fist kind of does that as well, it extends plotlines longer than it needed to be. The first 3 to 4 episodes are Danny Rand trying to prove that he really is Danny Rand and not an imposter, this takes way too long. After the first few episodes, the show really picked up.
The plotlines at times were hit or miss. Whenever the show focusses on The Hand (who are prominent villains in Iron Fist who return from The Defenders), I was interested in what was going on. There is a plotline about a family called the Meachums, who basically have control of Danny Rand’s company when he arrives back to New York. Most of this plotline is fine but it feels that too much time is spent with them. I really didn’t like at all the Rand corporation plotline, it was full of pointless board meetings that I really didn’t care about. Flaws aside with these plotlines, I was interested in seeing where the plot was going, and there were some moments that I really wasn’t expecting. A lot of the ideas that Iron Fist were solid enough but the show didn’t execute them particularly well. Some of the dialogue is off and occasionally silly, and some things happen in the show which are just plain random and silly. There is a particular example which involves ice cream, I’m not going to spoil what happens but you’ll know what I’m talking about when you see it. Overall the writing is one of the most disappointing parts of the show. There are some intriguing parts to it but overall it is far from being at the level of Daredevil, Jessica Jones or Luke Cage.
Finn Jones is Danny Rand, who is unfortunately one of the weakest characters of the show. I can’t tell whether it’s the acting or the writing that’s the main issue, but I do know that the writing for him is severely flawed. Overall the biggest problem with Danny is that he is so inconsistent. One moment he is so determined not to kill people and the next moment he is out for revenge and planning to kill people. The other 3 Defenders, Matt Murdock, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage, all have flaws but that made their characters feels more real and worked in their favour. The problem with Danny is that it feels like he was written by many writers and they couldn’t pin down exactly what character he is. He is completely messily and by the end of the season I didn’t feel like I had a clear idea of who he was. The writing definitely doesn’t do Jones favours. I think he’s better when he’s playing just Danny Rand and he’s at his worst when Danny is trying to act like the Iron Fist. When Danny is being super serious and trying to act zen like, it comes across as being so forced and its just sort of laughable. At times he comes across as a whiny kid trying to act serious and its just sort of embarrassing. Also looking back at this season, I couldn’t really pick up on a clear character arc for Danny. To his credit, Finn Jones is doing everything he can to act in this role and does project a semblance of likability to Danny, however he can only do so much as the writing really lets him down. It’s just sad that one of the worst characters of Iron Fist is its titular character.
The supporting cast/characters fare much better than Danny Rand. One of the best characters of the show is Colleen Wing, played by Jessica Henwick. She was very likable, believable (especially in the action scenes) and she has an interesting background (no spoilers). Colleen honestly was one of the best parts of the show. While Finn Jones’s Danny Rand has a lot of issue, he and Henwick share some great chemistry. Rosario Dawson is effortlessly likable as Claire Temple, who once again pops over to this show from Daredevil like she did with Jessica Jones and Luke Cage. Some of the other supporting characters are the Meachums, Ward and Joy (siblings) played by Tom Pelphrey and Jessica Stroup respectively, they share very believable chemistry. Ward in particular is great, he started out as an absolutely insufferable character but he has a great arc and by the end he’s one of the best characters of the show.
This season has a few villains, and the handling of the villains was quite hit or miss. If there is a main villain, it’s Harold Meachum, played by David Wenham. While the character himself is fine, he doesn’t work as a villain for the Iron Fist. Most of the time he’s not a direct threat, more of an anti hero than an actual villain. So he is rather average when you consider him as a villain. He’s also not given enough depth. Unlike Fisk, Kilgrave or Cottonmouth in Daredevil, Jessica Jones or Luke Cage respectively, Harold isn’t given some sort of reason for the things he does. Its ironic that so much attention is focussed on the Meachums, yet I don’t really feel like I know much about Harold. With that said, the character himself is fine, if severely underwritten and underdeveloped, and David Wenham fully embraced this role and gave a good and entertaining performance, better than the role deserved.
One of the biggest criticisms of the show is the fight scenes and while it isn’t really good, I have seen worse action scenes in mediocre-bad action movies. The stuntwork is not very remarkable, it is slow at times and even sort of boring. Also, it does one of those editing things where they constantly cut during fight scenes to hide bad stuntwork. The show does have its decent action moments but for the most part the action scenes weren’t that good and were one of the weaker parts of the show. Its disappointing because out of all The Defenders, you’d expect and Iron Fist show to be so great with its fighting, especially with Danny Rand. Danny should feel like a strong fighter character but the series don’t really do that good of a job in conveying that through his action sequences. Also at times the visual effects are a little weird at times, such as the flashbacks. Otherwise the direction of the episodes was overall fine I guess.
Iron Fist Season 1 was better than I thought it would be. I can kind of see why some people took issues with this season, there is definitely a lot of problems, the 3 main issues being the writing, Danny Rand and the action scenes. However I think it has received way too much criticism than it deserves. The show was interesting enough and had enough good performances and plot points to keep me intrigued enough to finish the show. With the showrunner of season 1 being replaced for season 2, perhaps Iron Fist’s next solo season will be much better. But as for season 1, it is so far the worst season of the Marvel Netflix shows.