Marvel’s Iron Fist Sucks and it has Nothing to Do with Social Justice


Netflix’s final addition to the Defender series, Iron Fist, wasn’t a hit with the critics. And after giving it a chance, it looks like they were on the mark, despite what actor Finn Jones says.

If you were to ask me my experience with Marvel creations, I would say “Well I saw Spider-Man 1 and 2 at one point and thought Tobey Maguire was hot.” And that would be about it. The comic book genre is something that is lost on me. I have nothing against it, but I know my limits. And if we’re being honest here, I knew exactly zero things about Iron Fist before starting this review. I didn’t even know he was a comic book character until Netflix announced the show. Sorry about that.

However, I’m not this big jerk who has no respect for the industry or Marvel’s original creations. I’m a critic, just like those who have so far given this show scathing reviews, claiming the character “culturally appropriates” a bevy of Asian cultures. Others even liken the dislike to the Trump effect, something actor Finn Jones has said himself.

Well, I’m not here to talk about any of that. Iron Fist sucks on the most basic level, and I’m sure we could look through several different lenses and find all sorts of sucky threads to pull at.

Going forward in this review of the first three episodes (more reviews are on the way), I will do my best to keep the dignity of Roy Thomas’s original character, and instead tell you why Netflix missed big time with this TV-adaptation, starring Finn Jones (Loras Tyrell himself) as the titular character. Shall we begin?

Iron Fist. Promotional Photo via Netflix

Slow Start

We first meet Danny Rand (Jones), walking barefoot (ouch!) and wide-eyed through Manhattan. He’s looking to reunite and reclaim his rightful heritage at Rand Enterprises, a (so far) generic skyscraper business that his father once owned, before he and Danny’s mother perished in a tragic plane crash. People just mistake him as a derelict, either throwing him out of the building or trying to convince him he’s not who he says he is. The entire first episode, “Snow Gives Way” just highlights this over and over again. Danny doesn’t leave his hobo phase until the third episode. And there’s 13 of these things to get through.

The wonderful thing about Netflix shows is that the audience doesn’t have to wait a week before watching the next chapter unfold. The site has perfected the art of binge watching, allowing us to see a story develop in one go. They can arc it over multiple episodes, giving us essentially a little movie within a movie as we learn what we can about these characters and storyline. If done successfully, there’ll be enough of a question mark at the end of each episode (and season), egging us on to watch just one more episode.

Not so with Iron Fist. I so badly wanted to stop right after Episode 1 after I saw the same “OMFG are you really Danny Rand???” from each character for 57 straight minutes. The series so far is painfully dull, monotonous and poorly paced, something that doesn’t really drive an audience into continuing. I know we’ve come to accept that the first season of a show generally isn’t the best, but if Iron Fist doesn’t get a new writing/production/editing staff on board (and perhaps tell Finn Jones to stop firing back at the ‘haters,’) this series has no chance of survival.

Iron Fist. Promotional Photo via Netflix

Lame-o Hero

After doing some research, I discovered Iron Fist first received his powers from punching a dragon in the heart. That’s amazing and cool. But Jones’ soft and boring performance makes me think this guy couldn’t flick a chipmunk on the nose if asked to. Seriously. He’s supposed to be a badass ass-kicker, reminiscent of campy 1970s-style kung-fu films. Instead, we get the pretty-boy California street kid beating up bullies in the hammiest way possible. I didn’t know how much more I could take of Jones trying to convince me he wasn’t just a crazy dude who happened to be really good at fighting.

I know superheroes are supposed to grow from a tragic backstory, but the stylized, poorly-acted plane crash flashbacks make me want to throw a binkie at Danny and tell him to grow up. It’s very clear Finn Jones is acting, instead of pretending to be his character. Basically, all the actors are doing this. Jessica Stroup (Joy Meachum) routinely looks like she’s on the verge of tears, while Tom Pelphrey (Ward Meachum), has what the boys from MST3K would call “built-in smug.” It looked like the actors didn’t believe or care about their own performances, making what we see on screen seem phoned in and lazy.

But I can’t entirely blame them. The lines they’re required to deliver are clunky and full of exposition, rather than giving us a deep look at the inner thoughts of the characters. Let me bang out some of my favorite lines from the first few episodes.

"Joy: “I’m going to ask him to detain you because he’s not only my driver, he’s my guard.”"

Because that’s how people talk when threatening action against a stalker.

"Danny: “I was trying to focus my chi so I could get out of here.”"

Thank you for the exposition, Finn.

"Colleen (Jessica Henwick): “You move about as fast as a pig. Swimming…in gravy.”"

Girl, what kind of thick-ass gravy are you cooking?!

Iron Fist. Promotional Photo via Netflix

The Write Stuff

There is just far too much exposition in the dialogue for me to have a vested interest in this story. Character discuss things we just saw them do, leaving everything to exist on the surface instead of delving deep into an emotional exploration.

About halfway through Episode 2 (“Snow Hawk Takes Flight”), this show was officially becoming painful. We know Danny is who he says he is, yet they’re still trying to throw hardships along the way. Not only is he shunned from the Meachums after just trying to talk to them, he ends up in a mental ward when Joy drugs him toward the end of Episode 1. Why dig a deeper hole for this character when we know he’s going to crawl out of it?

This show’s writing leaves a lot to be desired. I promise you, I went into this just hoping to be entertained by something, and I was left high and dry. Even Finn Jones’ prettiness can’t save this show as it stands. There was plenty of dialogue and scenes they could have cut out and we’d still be able to get a strong semblance of what was going on. Instead, it was as if someone poured molasses all over the final reel, creating a slow build-up to a story we might actually want to follow.

These characters just exist in this world, messily trying to clunk together some lines in order to provide some depth. But it falls flat a majority of the time. For example, the Meachum’s father Harold (David Wenham) is just a generic hard-ass evil guy because reasons. Danny is a threat to the company because he says he is. Colleen believes Danny’s story because he wore her down and she doesn’t seem to like Ward. These are all characters I’m supposed to care about, and I just want to slap them for being so dull and repetitive.

Iron Fist. Promotional Photo via Netflix

Iron Fist 2: Iron Fistier

I have a plan to continue this review, since I want to give the show more of a chance. I’m three episodes in, but the cringe is real. This show is just not good. It’s a huge swing and a miss on Netflix’s part, unfortunately. The only redemption is the sets and costumes look nice, otherwise it’s descending into the “so bad it’s good” territory. But I also have it in me to give the first season a shot in its entirety.

Though audiences seem to like itIron Fist personally lost me. It may make for a funny show to make an MST3K-esque mockery of with your drinking buddies, but that’s all. You can skip this one. I believe only the die-hardest fans will watch it all the way through (or if you’re really really bored).

Netflix already has boatloads of content. Maybe not everything needs an adaptation, especially when the final product is as wooden and lame as the pencil used to write the terrible dialogue.

Next: The Implosion of “Marvel’s Iron Fist” and Finn Jones Continues

So far, I give this 1 Finn Jones hair curl out of 10, but like I said, I’ll be giving you another part of this review. Will it get better? The forever-optimist in me hopes so, but the snarky b*tch in me can’t wait to rip it to shred just a little bit more.