Well, I did it. I watched Iron Fist, despite the poor reviews and problematic things with it. Incidentally, there have been so many other articles about the show's problems as far as "is it whitewashing?" and such things, that I am not going to go into them here (just a really short note for the curious--I actually didn't have a big problem with how culture issues were handled, and I'm usually fairly sensitive to things like that). I'm going to focus just on the story and plot aspects of the show.
I had some serious misgivings going into the show, I will admit. I hadn't seen ANYTHING that was truly positive about it. I mean, the most upbeat review I saw from friends said it was "OK." That didn't exactly inspire confidence. But I figured I'd give it a shot. God knows, I like a lot of other stuff my friends don't.
So, I'll say right off that this wasn't a show like Daredevil, that sucked me right in. It was a slowish start, and there was a lot of talking, walking and talking... But it was interesting enough to hold my interest, and by episode four or five, I was all on board. I actually was quite enjoying it. I had heard some criticism about the choreography, but I didn't really see an issue with it. It's a different fighting style than other shows and so was handled differently. Sometimes I felt the main character, Danny, was a bit too naive, but wrote it off as just him living in a different place for so many years. He wasn't familiar with ruthless NYC. I started off hating Ward, but after a couple episodes, he actually became the character I sympathized with most. Oh, Ward.
Some things hit me strangely, however. When supporting character Colleen started cage fighting, it seemed like there was more to be said about it, that it was important for her character development, but the show just didn't go far enough to show why. And yes, SHOW. There is a lot of talking in this show, lots of things being revealed across desks and walking down streets and halls. I would have liked to see more discovery happening via action and visuals. Some things felt like they were handled a little clumsily, but you know, there were enough positives about the show that I was willing to stick with it. And I wanted to see what would end up happening, really. Like I said, I actually enjoyed it and was willing to overlook its faults. All shows have them, after all, to some degree.
Then I got to around episode 8 or so (maybe 7), and things just suddenly...shifted. It felt like they had gotten an entirely new team to work on the show. Suddenly characters started doing things that seemed to be really foolish--far beyond the naive things they'd done before. Danny started dragging the women in his life around, and they followed him like dogs, even though he was doing these things that had no planning behind them. He was reacting to everything with no plan, just an arbitrary goal. There were betrayals and surprises that should have had a great emotional impact, but kind of fell flat. It felt like things were simultaneously rushed, yet at times the episodes dragged on. It did improve with the introduction of Davos, so there were only a couple tedious episodes in there, but in my mind, they really were almost tedious. There were points where I was yelling at the TV characters for being dumb. And of course, multiple times when I just shook my head and said, "Poor, poor Ward..." But there were some awesome moments as well. The season ended with a couple subplots being closed but the overarching story very much just beginning.
To sum up, is Iron Fist worth watching? I'd say sure. It had its problems, but also definitely had its merits, too, and there is a lot worse out there. If I were to compare it to other Netflix Marvel shows, I'd say it was better than Daredevil Season 2, and maybe better than the second half of Luke Cage Season 1 (for the sake of comparison, I'd say my ranking scheme of the shows would be Daredevil Season 1, then almost a tie between Jessica Jones and the first half of Luke Cage, then Iron First, then a tie between Daredevil Season 2 and the second half of Luke Cage. And I didn't NOT like any of them). There was plenty of fun in Iron Fist (and lots of opportunity for off-color and naughty puns. One could make a drinking game of all the possibly unintentional "fist" euphemisms in the show). And once I said that I was enjoying it, a lot more people came out of the woodwork to admit they liked it, too. I imagine there have been a number of people embarrassed to admit they like something that's gotten bad reviews. Speak up, folks! Rosario Dawson continues to be a strong character in all the shows, and damn, that Madam Gao! She's a character that you love to hate to love! As soon as she showed up, only one thought came to mind:
Danny, you are out of your element.
Which, I think, is a nice sum up of the show, as well. A decent show with a lot to live up to.
Have you seen Iron Fist? What was your take on it?
Melanie R. Meadors is an author of fantasy where heroes don't always carry swords and knights in shining armor often lose to nerds who study their weaknesses. A wearer of many hats, she is a blogger at The Once and Future Podcast, a professional author publicist, and a dabbling musician and artist. She studied both physics and astronomy at Northern Arizona University. You can find her at her website, melaniermeadors.com, on Facebook, and Twitter, @melaniermeadors.