Liking or hating a particular franchise is a matter of prerogative, I always say. And it seems that Netlfix’s final installment to its Marvel Defenders franchise before it sets out to film the actual Defenders series — “Iron Fist” — has been getting a ton of flak for not living up to the standards set by Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage. After seeing the first five episodes (I will update this post when I finish all 13), I do get where some of the critics are coming from but I for one, thought that it was a solid installment to the franchise — not the strongest but it did pull its weight.
Synopsis: Netflix’s “Iron Fist” billionaire heir Danny Rand (Finn Jones) returns to New York after 15 years of training with monks who saved him from a plane crash in the Himalayas but isn’t exactly welcomed back by his childhood friends — Ward and Joy Meachum (Tom Pelphrey and “The Following’s” Jessica Stroup) who now runs the company that their fathers founded. As Danny tries to regain his place in the empire that his father built, he is also made aware of the presence of The Hand, a secret underground organization that he has been trained to the defeat. He must harness his powers as The Iron Fist in order to protect the people he loves and the entire city from falling into the hands of evil and he is helped along the way by badass karate teacher Colleen Wing (Jessica Henwick).
From the onset, “Iron Fist” has been plagued by issues, mainly originating from a caucasian being cast for the title role (the original Iron Fist is Asian), the character build-up, the phasing, and a ton of other things. I admit that the show was not perfect. At times, the script was bordering on cheesy. In the beginning, the phasing was kind of slow and come on, as the Iron Fist, Danny has really made himself prone to attacks mostly based on idiotic choices. See? I have my eyes wide open when I say that I still like this series.
First of all, I acknowledge that a Danny Rand of Asian-American descent would have worked for the series. At times it felt weird to see a white dude break out in Kung Fu, but then again, not giving a chance for Finn Jones to show what he is capable because he is British would be a prejudice too, right? For me, I think he wasn’t the best martial artists I’ve seen on screen but he did pull off the tasks he was assigned so it was good enough for me. Still, better fight choreography would benefit this series immensely. Plus the dragon tattoo really looked fake. Come on, make up team!
On the flipside, I loved the character of Colleen Wing. She is a badass who knows how to kick ass. She doesn’t rely on anyone — and actually, its Danny who relied on her. This makes for a pretty great dynamic going on between these two characters. I loved how they absolutely have each other’s backs. I loved Colleen’s fight scenes and the intensity in which she lands her blows is the very definition of girl power. Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson) is another badass from Luke Cage that added swag to this series that it badly needed. These two women are really the highlights of this show.
I was impressed by how Tom Pelphrey portrayed his character as the douchey Ward Meachum. I was initially annoyed at his character but as the episodes progressed that he had to deal with his dad, I began to empathize with him. When he warned Danny about being careful about Harold, it wasn’t just about being a jealous son. He really wanted Danny to be wary of his father. The fact that he had to earn his father’s love when it was so freely given to Joy was another thing that made me root for him, even though he is the villain of the piece. I’m intrigued and excited to witness his unraveling.
So far, until Episode 5, I’m liking the Martial Arts and the parkour in this series but Rand really needs to get rid of Shannon and his crew. What an ineffective bunch of hired guns these three are. I’ll be back for a much more extensive analysis. Just let me check out the last eight epis. But for now, I urge you to give this show a chance. It actually has unharnessed potential that bears exploring.