Review: 'Marvel's Iron Fist' limply mixes martial arts with corporate litigation
It doesn't look like anyone is happy about Danny Rand's arrival in New York City.
Netflix's next foray into the Marvel universe is with Iron Fist, the last character they need to give to bingers before The Defenders can team up.
Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage all suffer from the same lull in the middle of their seasons, but as a whole their stories are compelling and exciting. The same can't be said for Iron Fist.
Finn Jones (Game of Thrones) stars as Danny Rand, a young heir who's been presumed dead for 15 years and returns to New York to reclaim his family's company.
His childhood friends Joy (Jessica Stroup) and Ward Meachum (Tom Pelphrey), have taken over as the heirs of company co-founder Harold Meachum. Stroup plays a sharp, but sympathetic Joy, who's torn between the nostalgia for her sibling-like relationship with Danny and her loyalty to the company and her brother.
Pelphrey's Ward is a cold, emotionless jerk who, for no particular reason, assumes an addiction to painkillers a few episodes in. He definitely has some skeletons in his closet, but I'm not sure anyone is interested in seeing them.
Where Danny was and why still remain much of a mystery, even six episodes in. Following the comics, Danny's origins as the Iron Fist begin in K'un Lun, the mythical city where he learns all of his expert martial arts skills. It's also where he obtained the Iron Fist powers — a golden, glowing hand of steel, er, iron.
But the intense fight sequences fans were looking forward to are few and far between in the episodes sent to critics. At least three focused on Danny's many failed attempts to get people to believe it's really him. And the flashbacks to Danny's time at K'un Lun are all the same, with not much new information to keep the origin story going.
The potential for a compelling story is there, but gets muddled with the daily grind of corporate business dealings and Danny's spiritual Zen quotes that sound as if he's reading a fortune cookie.
The few fights scenes are slow and bland, devoid of the choreography and emotional stakes seen in Daredevil and Luke Cage. Even an episode devoted to Danny fighting a group of assassins lacked a heartbeat.
Not surprisingly, the show's bright spots come from Rosario Dawson's Clare Temple, a nurse who helps tie together all of Neflix's Marvel properties, and Jessica Henwick as Colleen Wing, a young martial arts expert who runs her own dojo.
Both provide a breath of fresh air and some sanity into the befuddling story.
It is truly disappointing to see a comic book story with such potential fall so flat. I'm sure many diehard comic fans, as well as those who've never heard of Danny Rand, would love to see the final piece in The Defenders puzzle be an action-packed blockbuster. But Iron Fist's characters aren't complex enough, it's fight sequences not titillating enough and its storyline not captivating enough.
I'm sad to say it, but Iron Fist might be Marvel's first flop.
Contact Chelsea Tatham at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @chelseatatham.
All episodes of Marvel's Iron Fist are available to stream starting at 3 a.m. Friday on Netflix.