March 17th, 2017
Starring Finn Jones, Jessica Henwick, etc.
Marvel and Netflix have just released the next one of the Defenders’ series, Iron Fist.
The story is the return of the prodigal son, Danny Rand (Finn Jones), who has been lost for the past decade plus in the oft dimensionally inaccessible Kun Lun.
As a boy, he and his parents were flying to China, and their plane crashed in the mountains, and he was rescued by monks from Kun Lun and raised as a warrior. After he becomes the legendary Iron Fist, protector of Kun Lun, he promptly runs away back to his old home in New York to seek his old life and find out why his parents died.
When he gets there, he finds the mythical (or so he thought) bad guys he was trained to fight against–The Hand. Aside from getting the answers he seeks, now he’s got to fight his sworn enemies and maybe save the city–along with the company his father built.
Oh man–where do I start?
Danny Rand was never a sympathetic or likeable character to begin with, but this could have been a really great opportunity for Marvel to change that.
Too bad they didn’t take it.
What we’re left with is a story that moves slowly and choppily, stringing together a few disparate parts that only just fit together. The main character is an unlikable, whiny, dense mess. Some of the more important bad guys are boring, and some of the smaller characters are far more interesting than any of the main ones.
That’s a problem.
Who the ‘bad guys’ are meanders a bit, not really giving us any real sense of who they are–except for Madam Gao. Between the details we got in Daredevil and the details we get here, we’re getting a lot better picture of who she is–and she’s far more compelling a character than Danny Rand.
We get a lot of boardroom drama that really isn’t that interesting. One of the ‘bad guys’ there–Ward Meachum–is a caricature of the greedy and self interested businessman. His sister Joy has the potential of becoming something far more formidable, and this is hinted at near the end of the season. She makes an interesting character once she’s done looking like the oblivious patsy.
The only real standout in this series besides Gao is Claire Temple–she gets a lot of screen time in this series, and she gets further development that really makes me wish she had her own series.
Danny, however, is the biggest problem with this series.
From the start, we see Danny as a naive young man who has the emotional dimension of a kid–he thinks he’s centered, calm and capable, but as soon as he gets any personal emotional challenges, he tends to overreact.
There’s a lot of the tropey, ‘I must do this alone’ type sentiment to much of what Danny does, but instead of looking stoic he comes off as emotionally stunted and impulsive. The character also thinks a lot of himself, and the parts of the story that look like they should be giving him some sense of humility fail to do that. He’s not a hero you find easy to like. By the end of the series, I found I was mostly tolerating Danny to see more of the supporting cast.
Sorry Marvel, but this one was a major miss for me. I love the rest of the Marvel/Netflix series, not so much this one.
JL Jamieson is a strange book nerd who writes technical documents by day, and book news, reviews, and other assorted opinions for you by night. She is working on her own fiction, and spends time making jewelry to sell at local conventions, as well as stalking the social media accounts of all your favorite writers.