Marvel’s Iron Fist: a review

I am so pissed off at everyone right now.

Okay. Maybe not everyone. It just seems like everyone. All of the critics started unloading on Marvel’s Iron Fist before it was even released, and then everyone else seemed to jump on the hate bandwagon. Most of the early critic reviews were based on just the first six episodes, but even that doesn’t excuse it. Even Mike Zapcic, one of my favorite members of Comic Book Men and co-host—along with Ming Chen—of two of my favorite podcasts, I Sell Comics and Mike & Ming, did not speak favorably about this particular Marvel show, after being a definite booster for all of the other Netflix originals.

When I listen to the reasons why the critics, and Mr. Zapcic, don’t think this series measures up to the previous outings featuring Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage, I can even agree with several points.

This show isn’t as dark as the previous outings. At least not obviously so. No Hell’s Kitchen or Harlem here. This is Manhattan, and corporate Manhattan at that. It is, however, a dark show. Dark things happen. Evil is afoot.

Finn Jones is no martial artist. Okay, I’ll just have to accept this assessment. I see little difference between Finn and any of the other martial artists who have blessed the screen in the past. I’m not sure what a martial artist looks like. All of the critics are obviously advanced black belts in some discipline. If the show tells me that he’s a great martial artist, I choose to believe it. It’s fiction.

Finn Jones is also not Asian. This is true. Neither was Danny Rand in the comic books. And, in truth, it wouldn’t make sense for him to be Asian in this show. Part of what makes this story work is that Danny Rand is a spoiled, rich, white kid trying to reclaim his birthright. Colleen Wing was Asian in the comics, and she’s also Asian in this show. And she’s terrific.

There’s talk about the show not being strictly true to the comic book. This is probably correct. None of them have been, really, when it gets down to it. I’m blessed with a memory that is riddled with holes like Swiss cheese. I don’t remember the comic book story that well. When Mike Zapcic began talking about Danny Rand having to fight an actual dragon to become the Iron Fist, I had no actual memory of this from the comic books. I don’t doubt him, of course, but when I thought about it, I decided that a scene depicting an actual dragon in this series would have felt out of place. I prefer to think about that old David Carradine show Kung Fu and think that Danny’s trials to become the Iron Fist were like young Grasshopper’s. I don’t require dragons, except for the boss tattoo on his chest. Besides, Jones came from Game of Thrones and having a dragon in the series would have been a little too on-the-nose, don’t you think?

I’m certain that I’ve failed to address every complaint about the show, but I’m tired of addressing naysayers anyway. There’s nothing wrong with this show. I like it. A lot.

Is it my favorite of the Marvel shows on Netflix? No, I’ll have to admit that it is not. Today, if I had to list the series in order of preference, it would be: Luke Cage, Daredevil, Jessica Jones and then, bringing up the rear, Iron Fist. Being my least favorite of the four does not make this a bad show. Someone’s got to be last.

Besides, the order could change at any second. I definitely enjoyed Luke Cage more than Iron Fist, but I’m not sure it would beat out Daredevil or Jessica Jones if I hadn’t watched it after those two.

Doesn’t matter anyway. I like Iron Fist and I’m putting it on record here.

And, mostly, I’m just looking forward to the inevitable team-up later this year when The Defenders is dropped.


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