Iron Fist marks Marvel's fourth venture with Netflix soon to be followed by The Defenders later this year. Marvel has had great success and critical acclaim with their previous shows Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage however the reception of Iron Fist has been mixed... with a dirty spoon. Putting all cries of white privilege and cultural appropriation aside, which shouldn't be a factor, the show is lacking in almost every aspect.
You can't make a good television show, movie, or play without a good script. It's the foundation that the rest of the production stands on. Iron Fist invokes the image of a first time yoga student attempting a tree pose. From its slow build to nothing and mind-numbing dialogue it's a wonder how I was able to sit through this show at all. The most believable moments, and my favorite to boot, all came whenever Danny Rand was telling people he was some warrior monk with mystical powers. The reactions were the most grounded, solid bits of dialogue throughout the entire season. Jones, who played the main character, Rand, had perhaps the worst lines out of any of the actors. This is no fault of his, as actors only have to say what is written for them. This left me indifferent to him as a character. I didn't really feel that anything he was saying was worth listening to. It was tough to binge more than two episodes at a time due to this and breaks were all but required after episodes with interaction between Rand and Colleen Wing.
The poor script doesn't leave much for the actors to work with, however I don't have confidence that Jones's performance wouldn't have come across as a first year theater student understudying the lead. In fact, most of the performances are lackluster, basic at best, and I'm not sure how much of that is attributed to the direction of the show. The most compelling character for me was Ward, played by Tom Pelphrey. He is given the most interesting arc, has the best dialogue, and gives perhaps the best overall performance the show has to offer. He's the leader of a multi-billion dollar company who secretly meets with his supposedly dead father only to be berated and emotionally manipulated. He falls into a downward spiral and eventually takes action to help himself. It felt as if I was watching a show about Ward with long, boring breaks to focus on Rand.
The production quality of the show is similar to the rest of Marvel's Netflix endeavors but the budget falls short in the worst possible areas. The Iron Fist is supposed to be the undisputed martial arts master of the Marvel universe but this Danny Rand seems like he would struggle against Happy Hogan. And I'm supposed to believe he stacks up to the likes of Captain America, Tony Stark, and Black Widow? Please. Much of the choreography would be made more enjoyable with sound effect “slap” sounds.
A weak script, an unbelievable lead, and a poor representation of kung-fu in a show all bout a guy who should be the best at kung-fu make Iron Fist a chore to watch. I can't help but wonder if this show was hastily made to make way for the upcoming Defenders. Let's all hope that Marvel doesn't drop the ball with their next Netflix project.