Maybe Next Time: Iron Fist (2017)

So…. Iron Fist

It was not terrible, but at the same time it was not nearly as good as the other Marvel/Netflix shows. I suppose it was inevitable that one of them would be a flop, right? I mean, they all can’t be amazing, can they? While there were a slew of problems in Iron Fist, for me there were three main problems that dragged it down.

First, it was hard to be sympathetic to Danny Rand. He was never quite the disciplined monk from K’un Lun who became the Iron Fist, and never quite the returned prodigal, all-America son from New York. I understand that a major theme in the story is “the outsider no matter where he is,” but the writers failed to pull off a strong enough tie to one or the other (or maybe even a third) in Rand to make him a character who was worthy of the audience’s investment in him.

Second, while I understand the criticism of Danny Rand being a white dude in a lead roll where it would make more sense to have an Asian actor, I am also of the mind that the writers could have made it work better than they did. I’m not going to argue that “Danny was white in the comics so…”, but I will say, if you’re going to have a white guy in the roll he has to be there for a strong reason. Danny Rand is the only outsider to ever become the Iron Fist, which by itself is a bold statement. Even more so when considering that the Iron Fist is the most important role for the people of K’un Lun, not something ANYONE in authority would take lightly when considering candidates. For him to be an outsider, and white guy (in our political climate), is an extrodinary claim which necessitates extrodinary reasoning. We never see anything in Danny Rand that suggests that he deserves this privilege. Yes, he’s been through a horrible trial, but then again so has everyone who is a possible candidate. If anyone could do be Iron Fist it makes the position unimportant, basically a participation trophy. In this respect, Davos, who is only in a couple episodes, carries more gravitas than Rand. We only get hints at what it could be that makes Rand stand out—his heart, his passion, his drive—but never anything definitive.

Third, while this is the beginnings of Iron Fist, and that at the beginning he’s not going to be all that “super,” Rand is WAY too unskilled to be the Iron Fist. Everyone else kicks ass more than he does, even Claire. More often than not he fails to use his power. Yes, he’s still making his way to fully realizing his power, but they made him far too weak, even for someone young, inexperienced, and troubled by inner demons. In every fight scene I kept asking, “How did this guy manage to defeat Shou-Lao the Undying?”

All that said, I don’t think Iron Fist is crap. For the most part it was well done, except for the writing. With the right writers Iron Fist could have been really interesting. As it is, I don’t think it’s going to get a second season. Maybe The Defenders can pull out a save for Iron Fist to get a second chance. Because Iron Fist is a specialized character than not many people are familiar with hurts the likelihood of a benefit of the doubt. Captain America and Iron Man can take some blows (and have, actually). Iron Fist, not so much. And, as one of the many people who were introduced to this character through this show, I’m not going to miss Iron Fist if he never comes back for a second season.

This makes me feel sad for Finn Jones. He was given a golden ticket: lead in a Marvel/Netflix show. In this era of the comic book movie craze this must have put him on cloud nine. Yet now he’s under attack for the weakest of the shows to date. I think unfairly so.

For the people upset with him for being a white guy in an Asian role I wonder: was he supposed to turn down the role? I don’t believe anyone who thinks about this for even a second would seriously think he should have turned it down. If someone does, they’re completely unreasonable. No one who is early in their career would turn down a role like this. It’s idiotic to think someone would. More importantly, if he would have turned it down, he would end up on a “do not call” list. You can’t burp without blowing foul air on an actor these days, and if someone doesn’t take a major roll offered to him/her, they won’t be called again. So, Jones was in a catch 22. He did what anyone in his place would have done: took a big ole bite of the mushy apple he was given and now has to swallow the rank pulp. Now, did he handle the tweets with proper decorum… eh, it’s debatable, but he did exactly what he should have in taking the role.

So, there it is. Iron Fist season one (and possibly the only season). I guess we’ll have to wait and see what The Defenders brings to the table. Or, perhaps, the fans will be happy enough with it to give it a boost for a second season. Like Rand at the end, it’s all up in the thin, cold mountain air.

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