***Mild Spoilers for Iron Fist Follow***
I was pretty unfamiliar with Danny Rand/Iron Fist before the show came out but, even still, I was excited for it and ultimately wasn’t disappointed.Sure, it isn’t as put together as Daredevil but it’s still an exceptionally entertaining tale with great martial arts and supporting case.
As far as supporting cast, Colleen Wing (Jessica Henwick) was my favorite character on the show! While Danny was whiny and made poor decision after poor decision, Colleen was grounded in reality and not jaded by money as were other supporting characters. Her story arc is the best aspect about the show. Where the main character is surrounded by people who want nothing more than to get rid of him, Colleen is the constant who stays by Danny’s side even when times are tough.
I was thrilled to see David Wenham, who played Faramir in Lord of The Rings, in Iron Fist. My first thought was, “Faramir!!!!” He performed well in the role of Harold Meachum who was supposed to be dead and did a fantastic job of becoming more and more insane with each resurrection. His passion for Rand industries was clear and demonstrated that the man was not quite right in the head. The lengths to which he went just to regain control over his company were astounding. The mistreatment of his son Ward, played by Tom Pelphrey made you question why Ward was still helping him at all. Yet, just when you think his character is nothing but a self centered jerk, they portray his love for his daughter Joy (Jessica Stroup). While Harold isn’t the best villain in the Marvel shows, that honor rightly held by Wilson Fisk, he was a fantastic and looming threat throughout the season.
What also made Iron Fist great was the added villainy of Madame Gao, Bakuto and The Hand. The Hand are a mysterious threat even after Iron Fist and Daredevil season 2 but Iron Fist helped viewers gain a deeper understanding of the secret organization. Gao is always so poised and confident at times making me uneasy in a great way. Actress Wai Ching Ho offers up her third and best performance as Gao yet! In both seasons of Daredevil she took more of a back seat and here she is a main threat. As both a threat to Danny and Harold, she brings out the worst in both.
Speaking of bringing out the worst, I am referring to Danny’s absolute stupidity! From business decisions to fighting The Hand, to personal life decisions, Danny makes misstep after misstep. While I found it slightly annoying and didn’t even particularly like Danny, I understood why. At a young age he is taken from his life and placed into a completely foreign society that is nothing like the real world. He has absolutely no business experience, little formal education other than elementary school and doesn’t understand adult social interaction. We get to meet one other character from Kunlun, Davos, and he is exceptionally bad with people and social interaction as well. Is it any wonder that Danny doesn’t know how to approach situations properly? Despite the fact that I found his character annoying and overwhelmingly stupid, I thought his social inadequacy and bad decision-making was a credit to the writing as Danny absolutely would have been like this given the life he had up to this point.
With that said, I think a better actor could have taken the script as it was and still made him like-able. Finn Jones has been criticized as being a bad pick for the role and I don’t particularly disagree. He isn’t a great actor but he isn’t necessarily bad either. I would say that he is decidedly mediocre and this understandably had a negative effect on the show where you have an extremely complex character in Danny Rand. As stated before, Rand has a complex background and Finn Jones just didn’t bring enough to the table to portray it.
Another area where the show does well is the choreography. Iron Fist engages in many fights throughout the show and is an amazing fighter. Seeing Danny take out rooms of enemies single-handedly (or fistedly…) tells the viewer just how expert he is in Kung Fu. The actor and stunt team aren’t at Jet Li and Jackie Chan levels but that is a high bar and I personally wasn’t disappointed with it. One scene in particular has Iron Fist fighting an enemy who uses multiple weapons all the while, Iron Fist uses only himself stating that he is the weapon. This scene is a great depiction of the Iron Fist’s powers and ends showing us that, despite Rand’s naivety and bad decision-making, he is good at heart.
Ultimately, Iron Fist is a good show fraught with some missteps such as poor casting and a whiny main character. These missteps are mostly drowned out though by the engaging Hand story-line, supporting cast, great villains and some fun action sequences that get the adrenaline pumping. Luckily the character of Danny Rand and Iron Fist aren’t finished with their Netflix run as we will get to see more in The Defenders and the upcoming season 2 of Iron Fist. Hopefully, the new show runner can give us a Danny that has grown up a bit and become a bit more likable.
3 out of 5 Couch Cushions and a Throw Pillow (3.5)