Iron Fist fails to land strong punch for Marvel

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Iron Fist, Netflix and Marvel’s latest collaborative series, has a lot riding on it.

After four successful seasons of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage, Iron Fist is the final lead-in to the long-awaited The Defenders series, which will bring all four heroes together in August of this year. Although Iron Fist directly leads to the team-up, it’s meant to be a standalone show, following Danny Rand (Finn Jones) as he returns to New York and struggles to balance his identities as a corporate heir and a mystical kung fu master.

Danny Rand loses his family in a plane crash at age nine, where he’s taken in by the monks of the mystical Himalayan city of K’un-Lun. Danny spends 15 years training to become the Iron Fist, the protector of the city and sworn enemy of the sinister group known as The Hand. When Danny returns to New York, everyone has assumed he died in the crash, and he must prove his identity to take a position at his family’s business, Rand Enterprises.

The main problem with Iron Fist is this: The hero Iron Fist’s whole identity is built around being really good at fighting, but most of the fighting takes a backseat to lengthy, slow-paced corporate drama. The series moves at a glacial speed, devoting three of its nearly hour-long episodes to Danny merely proving his identity. Even when the drama takes a break to show some action, the actual fight scenes are short, bland, and unconvincing; despite his status as the powerful Iron Fist, the hero spends a lot of time being beat up by people without powers.

Daredevil fought more ninjas than Iron Fist does, and fighting ninjas is literally Iron Fist’s job description. In fact, most of the series feels like a toned-down version of Daredevil’s second season, complete with Danny Rand attempting to balance his real life and superhero identities, alienating the people close to him, and deciding whether or not killing is bad in between fights with The Hand.

Danny Rand himself isn’t a very likeable character. Having spent 15 years in a Himalayan monastery, he charmingly bumbles his way through New York life in a manner that’s meant to be endearing but comes across as childish and annoying. His struggle to balance his two identities barely torments him at all, and other characters affected simply clean up the messes Danny has created. Perhaps he was meant to come across as the naive nine-year-old he was when his plane crashed, but after dealing with so many heavy events, there’s little excuse for him to seem so childish.

Iron Fist doesn’t know what it wants to be. Although there are times where it dips its toes into its mystical, Doctor Strange-esque martial arts roots, it always flees back to being a dull Daredevil retread with more corporate drama. The series as a whole would be skippable if not for the fact that it will tie directly into The Defenders.

Binge Iron Fist if you must, but be prepared for the worst Marvel-Netflix show so far.

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