Monday, March 20, 2017

Marvel's Iron Fist Review. It Stinks!

Hello everyone. I know it's been quiet around here lately. Part of that is having a lot of extra work hours tossed my way, a situation that doesn't look to be slowing down anytime soon. Other than that I've also been suffering from a bit of writing doldrums. I've attempted to start up multiple articles this past week with little success at making them worthy of posting. Mostly I'm looking for some new subjects to write about and wouldn't you know something landed in my lap over the weekend. I'm talking about Iron Fist, a series I was looking forward to with great enthusiasm only to be crushed by the reality that this show is bad, really, really bad.

Having been a Marvel fan since buying my first issue of Spider-Man before I could even read has made the past 9 years something special. I mean it's great to see these characters properly translated to the screen on a regular basis By and Large I've enjoyed damn near every part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe save for the lameness of Iron Man 2 and the second half of Luke Cage. More than that, I was stoked for Iron Fist to get his shot at the spotlight in a line of Netflix series that has so far provided great series for Daredevil and Jessica Jones (less so with Luke Cage) that fully embraced outlandish plot points like demon ninjas and mind-controlling freaks. Just imagine what could happen with the splendor of super kung-fu. So what the hell happened? There's going to be a hefty amount of spoilers ahead.

Let's start with the title character. Both my brother and nephew disliked the performance of Finn Jones. I wasn't so set to blame him however since what's written for him her is such a none-character he honestly didn't have much to work with. Throughout the series I wasn't sure what they were trying to do with him. He spent 15 years in a mystical city, fighting his way to the top in order to earn the power and rank of Iron Fist, yet he's played out like a emotionally broken child with no understanding of his powers. Beyond that, his life in K'un Lun is barely touched on and handled inconsistently. One moment he's talking about it like it was just the most awesome place on Earth, then's he's freaking out over the abuse he suffered there. The guy jumps from being a gentle kung-fu nerd, to boiling pot of rage, to scared child, sometimes within the same scene. Because of this he can barely utilize his own superpower, begging the question of how he earned it in the first place. There's a video of a previous Iron Fist kicking massive amounts of ass, something that this version of Danny Rand never accomplishes. Our hero doesn't even take down any of the main villains in this season, his supporting cast takes care of that.

Speaking of support characters, let's start with Colleen Wing. While I found both the actress and character annoying on multiple occasions she still fares better in this series than the title hero. The girl actually has a proper journey as she finds so much of her life to be a lie, finally turning against the group that made her what she is. It turns out in this series that she's actually a member of the hand...though she's not a demon ninja because this is a different (but still evil) branch of the hand. Despite Colleen's dojo serving as a recruitment center for this group that has the money to put people through medical school, she somehow has no money to stay open which results in her cage fighting for two episodes with zero bearing on the rest of the story. Also, she's somehow allowed to freely roam the streets of New York City with a katana.

The Mechum family is another matter entirely. The actors for Joy, Ward, and Harold all do a mostly fine job, but most of the time it feels like they're in a completely different show. While Danny is traveling to Hong Kong to destroy a drug factory or battling crazed assassins, they deal with board room meetings and drug addiction. Joy in particular could have been removed from the show and it wouldn't have made much difference.
Harold Meachum ends up being the real villain of the peace and his arc is drug out and pointless. He was evil before, then he died of cancer and brought back by Hand medicine to be more evil. Once Ward stabs him to death he returns even more evil and that's it. There's a subplot about Ward's guilt at killing his father that goes nowhere.

Much of the series occurs in such a haphazard manner. Sub-plots like the cage fights, or Danny's stay in a mental hospital merely happen with no effect on further events. Furthermore the show tries to operate inside of a vacuum. Yes the Hand, including scary old Madam Gao are here but never the demon ninjas or possessed children previously seen in Daredevil. Now it's a secret academy somehow hidden within New York City where fit teenagers work out all day.

As if all the issues with story line, characters, acting, weren't enough, there's lazy direction and piss poor production values. Danny's fight against a spider themed assassin looks like something straught outta the second Mortal Kombat movie. And they are so few locations it makes the show feel claustrophobic. Here's a scene in the office, then Colleen's Dojo, then Harold's apartment, then the office, the dojo, office again. You get the idea, it's a very cheap feeling series.
Possibly the biggest issue of all is tone. Not once did this ever feel like an Iron Fist tale. Instead of a naive yet fun kung-fu master battling hordes of colorful martial artists and ninja, we're treated to this emotionally cold, sluggishly paced upper crust family drama. It's a tone that might have worked if this were a character like Moon Knight but not here. There's never even a pay off to all this shit as the final conflict is Danny hiding on a rooftop, trying not to get shot by a zombie business man.

Iron Fist is so lame I nearly didn't finish. I had to stop episode 12 about twenty minutes in to take care of some things and barely had the strength to turn it back on. I was so tired of watching these characters moping about in their pajamas, unable to process basic emotions. During the first half of the show I kept giving it a pass in the hope it was going somewhere but it just kept getting worse. I wasn't just disappointed, I was full on exhausted over how awful this was. It's not just bad but the worst thing Marvel Studios has ever made.

I've mentioned before how I seek to be a more positive voice on the internet so it's tough to write something so negative, but this show really isn't getting the tongue lashing it deserves. As viewers we can only hope that the Defenders team-up does some major damage control for this character, and that the entire Iron Fist writing staff finds themselves without jobs. At the very least I have proof of not loving all Marvel productions for when I review DC movies. Marvel shit the bed here, plain and simple.

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