Marvel’s ‘Iron Fist’ fails to pack a punch

Nate Day

Since the 2015 release of “Daredevil,” Marvel and Netflix have enjoyed a strong and illustrious relationship. The duo has provided Marvel’s cinematic universe with several critically acclaimed entries, but that trend took a hit with the newest addition, “Iron Fist.” When the show was initially released, it was almost unanimously raked over the coals by critics, and for good reasons.

“Iron Fist” exemplifies the same problems that have plagued Marvel’s other Netflix properties; the show was far too slow paced and ended in an anticlimactic and been-there-done-that battle with the series’ big bad antagonist. However, “Iron Fist” was unique in the additional problems it presented.

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First and foremost, Finn Jones, who plays the titular Iron Fist is a total dud. His iteration of Danny Rand was intolerable and entirely different from what a character in his position should be. This is not to say he was unpredictable, it is to say his performance did not have much logic. Jones was stiff and corny, obviously stumped by how to best deliver a line.

Jones also posed another large problem for the show: cultural misappropriation. The role obviously should have been played by an actor of Asian descent, as Danny practicing and preaching strict Kung Fu teachings comes across as spoiled frat bro feigning interest in another culture. The character, created to answer the growing interest in Kung Fu in the 1970s, is supposed to be the best martial artist in the world and a total outsider to the mystical Asian culture that trained him. It was wrong for the character to be white in the 1970s, and it is wrong now. Marvel has done some great work casting people of color in roles originated by white characters, it is a shame they did not take that chance here.

As if those issues were not enough, the writing on the show was awful. Dialogue often left me rolling my eyes and the convenient manner in how plot details fell together made the show boring. Every twist was visible from a mile away, and the way they adopted and redesigned some of the characters we have met before was almost shameful.

Despite the terrible writing and an even worse lead actor, the show is produced with Marvel’s standard high quality, masking a lot of the show’s mistakes. The editing makes it this close to making it an OK production. The fight scenes are well put together, and Jessica Henwick provides Marvel with another strong woman of color to add to their roster, but that is not enough to turn a blind eye to the massive mistakes the show makes.

Should you watch it? Probably not.

“Iron Fist” was supposed to be so much more than it was. With Netflix’s crossover series “The Defenders” coming up shortly, viewers needed a stronger launching pad, but we will take what we can get. Ultimately, the show, its lead and its writers were a big letdown, but here is to hoping that future seasons—if there are any—can right those wrongs.

Collegian reporter Nate Day can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @NateMDay.