I have to admit, I’ve been meaning to watch more TV shows recently but it just hasn’t panned out as well as I’d hoped. There are so many new TV series that I’m looking to get into, however, for the time being, I thought it wasn’t a bad idea to revisit the Marvel Netflix Series. Having made my way through Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage, it was time to watch Season 1 of the fourth and final member of the Defenders; Iron Fist. Given the release of Shang-Chi later this year, I thought watching a martial-arts based TV series was the perfect prep!
The first season of Iron Fist tells the story of Danny Rand, a young man who returns to his home in New York after having been assumed dead for 15 years. Danny, the heir to a multimillion-dollar empire, initially finds it very difficult to convince people that he’s who he says he is and goes up against Joy and Ward Meachum; his childhood friends and the kids of his father’s business partner. When asked where he had been for all this time, Danny recounts that he has been living in a monastery in a mystical place called Kun-Lun where he acquired the power of the Iron Fist, thus becoming a living weapon. Danny’s attempts to live a normal life bring him into contact with Colleen Wing, a martial arts teacher, and though initially hesitant Colleen and Danny strike up a friendship which blossoms into a relationship later. However, not everything is as it seems and Danny finds that the very group he was sworn to fight in Kun-Lun; The Hand, are in New York and more worryingly are heavily involved in the running of his father’s company; Rand Industries. He attempts to make the Meachums see what is happening but repeated hostilities and Danny’s confused attempts to fit into society make it all very difficult. After Danny defeats who he believes is the leader of the Hand, other enemies appear from the shadows to take what Danny has. Can the Iron Fist vanquish his enemies as he was told he was destined to do? And are these enemies really as mysterious as they seem?
So to be clear, there are some good points and some bad points to this show, so it’s a fairly balanced review. If we start with the good points. I love kung-fu, and Iron Fist is completely centred around it, not just in the fight scenes or the nature of the protagonist, but generally in the feel of the show. Due to the fact that it shares a common villain with Daredevil, there was an inherent assumption that there would be a lot of hand-on-hand combat and in that sense, Iron Fist didn’t disappoint. Unfortunately, that’s as far as the praise can for this show. I personally feel that Iron Fist suffered from the very same thing that the first season of Luke Cage did, in that the first half of the season builds in suspense and action and gets us invested, but then in the second half, the story just doesn’t hold up and I found myself bored. I rate each episode on IMDB and this was the first time that a finale of a show got a 5/10 from me. There is no doubt that the character of Danny Rand is interesting, I just found that the one-dimensional writing made him seem boring and very reluctant to grow as a character in his trauma.
On to the acting. So Finn Jones played Danny Rand, and I remember seeing him in Game of Thrones as Loras Tyrell but not really thinking anything of him. That being said, I thought that he did an excellent job as Danny, and I think he was one of the few reasons that the show wasn’t completely tragic. The supporting cast including Jessica Henwick (coincidentally also in Game of Thrones) who played Colleen, and Tom Pelphrey and Jessica Stroup who played the Meachum siblings also put in solid performances and I think that I’d be interested in seeing how they portray their characters going forward. However, for me, there was one acting performance that stood above the rest; David Wenham as a certain mysterious character. I can’t tell you who he played, because it’s fairly integral to the plot, but he does a remarkable job of being both charming and weirdly creepy at the same time. After seeing him play Faramir in Lord of the Rings, I assumed that his innocent face could only be used to be a good guy, but damn. Kudos Mr Wenham.
So, Netflix generally has a decent budget for most of its shows and if I had to compare the graphics of Iron Fist to let’s say one of the CW shows, I’d say Iron Fist was way way better. That being said, I think it was still early days for Netflix and there are certain scenes where I’m like really guys? That’s the best that you could come up with? The cinematography was for the most part fairly decent and despite the fact that I don’t think that it was the best, I have to give props to the choreography team as some of the fights in the show were excellent. At the end of the day, for a martial arts-based show, there’s nothing that you could want more. In terms of the music, I think it was average, nothing that jumped out at me.
Overall, I think that most of what I’ve written is probably quite negative. I don’t completely mean it to be. I think that I assumed that each of the Netflix Marvel shows would get better and better as they premiered and found myself disappointed in what I saw. I think the characters and the cast have some real potential, they just need better writers!
Integral vs Filler Episodes: ★★½