Netflix’s Marvel shows came out strong from the gate, with the one-two punch of Daredevil and Jessica Jones. Both of those first two seasons were extraordinary, with adult, sophisticated story-telling brought to life by a phenomenal cast of actors. Both shows looked gorgeous, and were fun and action-packed. Things started to slip a little with the next two Netflix shows, though. I liked Daredevil season two more than many people did, but I freely admit the season ended in an anticlimactic whimper rather than the epic finale I’d been hoping for. As for Luke Cage, I loved the cast and I loved the look and feel and music of the show, but narratively it was a bore. Things have gotten worse, not better, with Iron Fist, which is huge misfire and Netflix’s first big disappointment of a Marvel show.
As the show opens, Danny Rand (Finn Jones) has returned to New York City after 15 years away. As a child, his parents were killed in a plane crash. The world thought that Danny, too, was dead, but Danny survived and was raised in the mystical city of K’un-Lun. There, he trained to become a living weapon, the Iron Fist. Returning to New York, Danny expects a joyous reunion with childhood friends Joy and Ward Meachum, but in Danny’s absence Joy and Ward have turned their parents’ company, Rand Corporation, into a global behemoth and they are not eager for Danny to come in and mess things up. Danny is also shocked to discover that the Hand, the ancient enemy of K’un-Lun, is operating in New York, and that the Hand is using the Rand Corporation as their tool. With enemies all around him, Danny’s only ally is his new friend, the martial arts instructor Colleen Wing. But even Colleen has a secret that she is hiding from Danny.
That plot description sounds like the basis of a cool TV show. Unfortunately, Iron Fist does not deliver on that promise.
The biggest problem with the show is Finn Jones as Danny. The biggest strength of both the Marvel Studios movies, as well as the Marvel Netflix shows, has been their perfect casting of their lead characters. But they’ve stumbled here with Danny. I am sure Finn Jones is a great actor and a fine human being, but to me he seems totally miscast as Danny. I also have to put a lot of fault on the show’s writing, which failed to craft a story for Danny that a) makes much sense and b) allows the audience to engage with his character. Together, this proves to be a problem the show is unable to overcome.
Let’s start with the … [continued]