By Melvin Taylor, Staff Writer
On March 17, Marvel introduced the world to another beloved comic book hero in the new Netflix series “Iron Fist.” Danny Rand (Finn Jones), the star of the show, survived a mysterious plane crash when he was just 10 years old. Since his parents died instantly in the crash, a group of warrior monks adopted the orphaned Danny and raised him in a city by the name of K’un Lun. Enduring harsh conditions and trial after trial, Danny finally earned the mark of the city’s most powerful weapon, the Iron Fist. However, instead of staying in K’un Lun, he leaves for New York to reconnect with his past and restore his family’s legacy.
No matter how you first encountered the Iron Fist—whether it was straight from the comic books or just from the shows—the execution of this show leaves much to be desired. Two essential things were missing: sufficient character building and a set storyline. The first episode was a good start, introducing Danny Rand’s return to K’un Lun and following him as he attempts to reconnect with old friends from his childhood. Even the quick fighting scenes that do not overlap one another become refreshing to watch. So where did the show go wrong?
The fighting scenes become too repetitive, the same moves being copied at every opportunity with an overload of roundhouse kicks. The ultimate “boss battle”—or what is supposed to be—is a poor attempt to bring video games like “Soulcalibur” and “Tekken” to life. It consists of a series of competitors he has to defeat in order to confront Madame Gao, the villain who sells a more addictive version of heroin on the streets.
In fact, Madame Gao—played by Wai Ching Ho and also seen in “Daredevil”—never receives the proper recognition she deserves. One of only two characters who add depth to the boring plot, this villain and her clever plans are constantly interrupted by Danny Rand’s melodramatic crying scenes. The only other interesting character is Ward Meachum (Tom Pelphrey), who battles prescription addiction and the torture of his father.
You can’t really blame the actor for this fault. In retrospect, Jones plays his part according to the script. Unfortunately, the script is the actual problem. It is weighed down with side character stories that add no depth to the plot. While I commend Scott Buck, the creator of the show, for his attempt to fit so many storylines into one season, he probably should have spread them out through multiple seasons instead. For instance, season one should have focused on the character development of Madame Gao and Danny Rand; then season two should have focused on Danny’s adventures but also touch on other characters of importance to the show. Instead, it focuses on Danny’s love interest, Colleen Wing (Jessica Henwick), whom he trusts, only to find that she is a member of the enemy clan, The Hand; Joy Meachum (Jessica Stroup), his childhood friend and crush who is constantly with him or against him; Harold Meachum (David Wenham), who uses him to get out of hiding and take over the company; and even Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson), a character constantly seen throughout Marvel’s Netflix series.
The writers should have copied the introduction they gave Danny Rand’s old friend Davos (Sacha Dhawan), where the face was finally brought to the name that Danny had been talking about. He came with his missions, displayed his frustration with Danny’s choices—something the audience could agree with—and fought when needed. It is understandable that Buck was trying to emphasize that Danny felt betrayed by the people around him, but it was just too much.
As for Danny, his fight scenes were nice, but as a character, he is unrelatable and even annoying at times. He never learns from his mistakes, which soon becomes repetitive, and he keep blaming everyone around him for the faults of his life, even until the end of the show. Throughout the entire season, Danny treats life as if he were still a kid, though by the end, it was clear that some kind of personal growth was supposed to have happened—which raises the question of why he receives the Iron Fist to begin with. After all, it is supposed to be a sacred weapon only given to the person chosen to protect K’un Lun. Yet Danny fails to understand why his friend Davos, who grew up with him, is upset that he left them unprotected.
The show lacks so much detail in its storyline that most fans will have to force themselves to finish just to say they have conquered another Marvel Netflix series. I suppose the writers thought that adding famous actors would increase ratings. This is one Marvel show that definitely does not deserve a second season.