by Scott Oakes
“Danny Rand has been dead for fifteen years”
Or has he?
After all he is the star of the latest Marvel instalment for Netflix. After a fatal plane crash over a decade ago, Danny Rand returns to New York with an itinerary beginning with Rand Enterprises; he’s back to see Harold Meachum – his late father’s brother. After literally fighting his way into the building, Danny is reunited with his cousins Joy and Ward and learns Harold died of cancer and they force him out of the building presuming he is lying about his identity for his rightful share in his father and uncle’s company.
We know this to be the real Danny Rand, but just why is he back? The first few episodes at least are spent delving in to the ‘origin story’ of Danny Rand; what happened to him when he lost his mother and father in the fatal plane crash, his return to New York and his attempts at reconnecting with family. Scenes between Danny and Joy in particular are highlights of those first few episodes, though she is understandably cautious of believing Danny, you can see she wants to. Joy is really the living embodiment of the core family values punching through the series.
The Rand/Meachum families cause more drama than your average episode of The Jeremy Kyle Show and it’s interesting to see how they deal with a family member turning up out of the blue, with this new-found ability. Danny Rand is now the Iron Fist after all. It’s not the kind of family you’d travel thousands of miles back to voluntarily…
The dialogue is often clunky and questionable and you seem to spend a lot of the time trying to decide if Danny is acting like a child or if he’s just not learnt the way people talk in the modern world, after all he has been absent for fifteen years. It would make sense if the way he is speaking has been intentionally done by the writers to project that but occasionally it’s difficult to hear. There are times you’ll pray for Danny to be quiet and just use the Iron Fist, there are many times the show drifts into senseless speech.
While the conflict, both emotional and physical is justified and important, you spend much time praying that the fight scenes packed more punch. At least in the earlier episodes of the series, they lack impact and if there’s one thing you need in a martial arts series, it’s impact. After reading about the production for Iron Fist, it’s understandable that these scenes don’t feel particularly well choreographed – Finn Jones stated in several interviews he had very little time to practice the choreography for martial arts scenes and deadlines were already in place for the upcoming Defenders series. It seems a real shame that more time couldn’t be dedicated to practising the choreography, given the nature of the series.
Controversially, Finn Jones was a great choice for Iron Fist. Several critics have previously stated that Iron Fist should have been played by an Asian actor and the series has come under fire for its representation of a ‘white hero’ stereotype but that’s not to say that Finn Jones has done nothing with the character past that. Being Game of Thrones alumni, he has outdone himself, coming a long way from playing an openly homosexual character in one of the world’s biggest television series to taking his first leading role in a Marvel branded Netflix series. Jones has an acting range sure to grow over the coming years, he is a talent worth watching.
This isn’t the disaster that the most judgemental of critics are painting it to be. By no means is this perfect but hopefully the reception of the first series can be utilised to construct a refined second series full of impact. Really, the truth is that it is easy to have high expectations in the Marvel Netflix series after the break through success of Daredevil but that doesn’t mean to say that the bar has been raised. Go in to this series taking little notice of the criticism over casting and the character himself – matters that cannot be changed now – and you just might enjoy it. There’s a lot to be liked about the latest instalment from Marvel, if you give it a fair chance.
Dir: Scott Buck
Scr: Tamara Becher
Music: Trevor Morris
Cast: Finn Jones, Jessica Henwick, Tom Pelphrey, Jessica Stroup, Ramón Rodríguez, Sacha Dhawan, Rosario Dawson, David Wenham
Country: United States
Running Time: 50-61 Minutes
Iron Fist is available to stream on Netflix now.