Tell me if you’ve heard this one before.
“From the pages of a comic book, Show X brings to life Beloved Marvel Hero Z for its first season on Netflix.”
We’ve gone down this route before and unfortunately, this isn’t the only deja vu lurking in the 13 episodes of Netflix’s new foray into the land of costume crusaders in “Iron Fist”, which came out this weekend. By now the “white, male millionaire returning to his city to fight crime after the death of his parents” has become almost a parody of the superhero origin tale. In fact, considering that it has been on longer and is on a prime time channel, it almost seems like The CW’s “Arrow” (and to some extent even Fox’s “Gotham”) manages to use this formula with better success.
The show is not without at least trying to entertain. Setting aside the whole white savior trope, what “Iron Fist” accomplishes is to be average in all categories. Even if the show’s creator, Scott Buck, decided to go against the source material in this respect, the writing and story aspects would be cringe worthy for any actor of any race. Finn Jones is fine as Danny Rand, though he walks around the first three episodes more like a Williamsburg hipster than an all powerful martial arts master. At one point, he even gets suckerpunched with brass knuckles. A master, he is not.
The rest of the cast is serviceable, though again there isn’t much writing that can make them all too interesting. The story (without ruining what little folds it’s hiding) can be clumped into acts across the first season. This is commonplace for these shows, but I feel “Iron Fist” pays dearly for its odd story beats. At one point, a character is dropped from a building just as the episode ends. Yet with no tension or connection, it’s fairly obvious that this attempt at a “cliffhanger” will end in the character’s favor. So then why do it? A few Marvel characters from other shows surface but only serve to remind me of how much fun I had watching them in other vehicles.
And that’s the major problem with “Iron Fist.” For a show that is giving your the origins of one of the strongest fighters in the Marvel U, the fight scenes lack any of the punch we’ve already seen on “Daredevil.” In fact, it isn’t the interesting character study seen in “Jessica Jones” and doesn’t even come across as half as cool as “Luke Cage.”
The show does turn a much needed corner after episode 5, with a few characters placing themselves at least within earshot of actual relevant drama. But I found myself asking whether it was five hours too late.
Most people are wondering if we are in the throes of “superhero fatigue.” While I would outright disagree with that assertion, I do think that Netflix’s “Iron Fist” is Marvel’s first a major dud in the television department. I know some would want “Agents of Shield” to garner that title, but AoS’s ties to the MCU have been thinning. A lot is riding on the combination of the Netflix big three” as the “The Defenders” is coming to a streaming platform near you. So far it seems that the low budget Avengers we’ve all been anticipating have shown that they certainly have a weak link on the team.
About the Author
Alcy Leyva is New York based writer who has published works in The Rumpus, Everything for Dads, and The Millions.