Wednesday, March 22, 2017

'Iron Fist' Is Disappointing and Flawed, but Definitely Not a Disastrous Failure

Iron Fist is the last Marvel/Netflix solo series before they all team up for the much anticipated The Defenders series coming later this year.  Unfortunately, while the previous Marvel/Netflx series are profusely praised, this one is met by critics with animosity, considering it Marvel’s “first failure.”  Personally, though, I don’t think it’s honestly that terrible.

There’s, of course, some truth in the critical consensus’ evaluation of the series.  Technically, it’s the “worst”, not only among Marvel/Netflix shows, but among all productions set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, in TV and film.   By that, what I mean is if all MCU movies and TV shows are ranked, Iron Fist will easily be the last.  However, it’s not really a complete garbage of a show as the majority of critics imply.  At worst, it’s disappointingly average.  But not a “disaster.”
But even if it’s the least of all Marvel Cinematic Universe productions, the drop of quality from its Netflix predecessors – Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage – isn’t dramatically big.  Now, either the other Marvel/Netflix shows are tremendously overrated OR Iron Fist is unfairly brutally appraised.  In my opinion, it’s more of the latter.

I’m not saying that the criticisms are all unwarranted.  The show is definitely flawed.  For one, Finn Jones isn’t a marvelous Danny Rand a.k.a. Iron Fist.   He delivered a serviceable performance.  But I was hoping more – much more – from him, considering the fact that I wasn’t thrilled when he was cast.  I never liked him as Loras Tyrell in Game of Thrones, and I didn’t think he had the charisma and physique for giving the character of Iron Fist justice.  And, unfortunately, he wasn’t vindicated by the show.  I never bought him as “The Living Weapon.”

Which brings us to my biggest disappointment about this show: the fight scenes.  Compared to the grace and badassery of the fight scenes in Daredevil, Iron Fist’s are shockingly pathetic.  Much of them are tolerable, I guess.  But definitely not good enough – far from it – for what’s supposed to be a kung fu show centered on one of Marvel’s premier martial artists.  If nothing else, this show should have focused heavily in topping Daredevil by delivering the most epic fight scenes in TV history.
Now, the feebly choreographed fight scenes could have worked if the show was intentionally alluding to those old, cheesy American martial arts films that feature a white man turned martial arts master (e.g. American Ninja series), but that was never the case with this show.  Which is a shame, really, for it could have been a brilliant vision for the show, as the character of Iron Fist is literally based on the popularity of that concept during the 70’s.

Moreover, aside from delivering the goods in the martial arts department, it should have embraced the weird Eastern mysticism of the Iron Fist mythos, as much as the Doctor Strange did.  Yes, it featured some mystical elements.  But it delivered them in the same “grounded” approach that Daredevil did.  It could have benefited much, much more if it went all in.  For example, Danny Rand got his Iron Fist powers by battling a dragon.  No dragon ever appeared in its 13 episodes.
But aside from these, Iron Fist is a perfectly fine, generally entertaining show.  True, there are times that its storytelling is bogged down by boring moments.  But if we can be honest about this, the previous Marvel/Netflix shows have this problem as well.

Besides, all those times Danny Rand’s fist starts to glow, excitement is effectively stirred.

Can’t wait for The Defenders!

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