Basically: Do not try to understand Iron Fist. Instead only try to realize the truth: There is no plot.
Note: There will be a full discussion about the first six episodes of Iron Fist on Geek Girl Riot. Until then here are our initial (spoiler-free) thoughts.
Billionaire Danny Rand (Finn Jones) returns to New York City after being missing for years, trying to reconnect with his past and his family legacy. He fights against the criminal element corrupting New York City with his kung-fu mastery and ability to summon the awesome power of the fiery Iron Fist.
That sums it up. Truly. There isn’t much more to the setup. The plot, as presented by the first six episodes, is…subtle. What stands out is the subtext and execution. It’s hard to tell whether Iron Fist is an average show made to look poor next to Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage—the three Marvel Netflix series before it—or if it’s just poor.
Geek Girl Riot host, Angela Henry had this to say, “Besides the obvious diversity issues and stereotyping, bad acting, bad writing, poor pacing, poorly executed fight scenes and being flat out boring, with a horrible soundtrack, Iron Fist was also visually uninteresting—everything looked washed out. Beyond that, I couldn’t connect emotionally with any of the characters. And it didn’t feel current.”
A hallmark of previous Marvel Netflix shows is the casting. Typically the actors embody the characters with facets that keep us watching—despite soft midpoints in each series. Here casting is a downfall. There is zero chemistry between the actors and nothing to make us care about them. The writing doesn’t help. There’s an exchange between Danny and Joy Meecham (Jessica Stroup) about where robes should be worn. It made the Rioters groan, in unison. The storytelling seems more involved in weaving together a fine mesh of clichés, than with telling a cogent story that gives us reason to care.
Rioter, Soma Brodhun added this, “Zero useful exposition. It’s rare when I think, you know…the audience could use a flashback or two, but it would have been useful. Not sure what the director and cinematographer were going for but they didn’t pull it off. The whole thing is muted, to include the acting. It was like being dropped into a first day table read. It had no soul. I don’t just not care about the characters, I don’t like them either. The brightest spot was the 5 minutes of Jeri Hogarth (Carrie Anne Moss) being Jeri. I’ll save my thoughts on how racist it was for the show.”
Iron Fist has clear problems dealing with race. For more on that, read this. Putting aside the fact Finn Jones seems to think Asian characters shouldn’t be in leading roles because, ya’ know, stereotypes exist, Iron Fist could benefit from sensitivity training. Even better, the presence of Asian Americans, not just as sounding boards but as the beating heart of the series. There are missteps throughout, y’all. When Danny first meets Colleen Wing (Jessica Henwick) he randomly speaks Mandarin to her. Why? Because she can download any language from the Big Asian Database in the sky—being that she’s all Asian and stuff. How about Colleen’s costuming? At one point she wears a red silk bomber with a pair of tiger heads on it… Pause.
In the end: Problematic and stilted are the best ways to describe Iron Fist. Let’s hope this single misstep, in the otherwise engaging Marvel Netflix run, won’t affect The Defenders.
More to come, on Geek Girl Riot…