Spoilers for Iron Fist season 1 follow.
I’ve finally done it, I finished Iron Fist. It took me over a month but I’ve now watched all 13 episodes and I’m all caught up on the Netflix Marvel shows ready for the crossover series The Defenders. Since its debut, reaction to Iron Fist has been exceedingly negative and while I don’t think it’s as awful as many people make out it’s still undeniably not very good. Bad writing, bad acting and overall just pretty dull I would have given up three episodes in if I didn’t feel the need to continue so I could watch The Defenders and know who the characters are and what is going on; I’m a completionist by nature. While a second season is yet to be confirmed by Netflix the show does set itself up for another instalment and so let’s look at what went wrong in this first season and how the show can improve going forward.
A big issue of the first season is the lack of focus on the antagonists. First it’s Harold Meachum, then Madame Gao, then Bakuto and then back to Meachum again in the finale. Thankfully Harold kicked the bucket and hopefully won’t come back this time even though the show ignored its own rules by stating in the penultimate episode the only way to kill an immortal is by removing the head Highlander style (There can only be one!) only for Harold to die by comically falling off a roof the next episode. No doubt Bakuto is also an immortal and despite his death will return but I really don’t want him to, the core antagonist of the second season should be Madame Gao. She has been an interesting character since her debut in the first season of Daredevil revealing she has some sort of superhuman power and implying that she is from K’un-Lun and I was sure she was going to be the focus of Iron Fist. However, other than learning that she was very old and did her dealings through Rand Enterprises she remains a mystery. The writers have been toying with her for long enough now and she should take centre stage, revealing the mysteries about her past (could she be the Crane Mother?!) and playing more mind games with our heroes.
Less Meachum, more Colleen. That’s my tagline for what I want in season 2. I know that the finale set up Joy teaming up with Davos to become villains but I actively despise that idea and want the Meachum siblings kept to a minimum. They have to remain a part of the series or it would just be weird but just keep the Rand Enterprises stuff in the background, no more boring board meetings about drug roll outs or media crisis management. Not to draw even more parallels between the two but Rand should take on a roll similar to Wayne Enterprises in the Batman movies. My reasons for more Colleen should be obvious with Jessica Henwick being a highlight of the season and the only believable fighter out of the main cast. While I wasn’t huge on her ‘I’m secretly a member of The Hand’ storyline her street fights were the best thing about the show and I kind of wish we just got a Colleen Wing series rather than Iron Fist.
Whenever I was watching any of the boardroom scenes of the show I was wishing there were more action sequences and whenever any fight did break out I desperately wanted it to end. Pretty sure that’s not a good thing to be thinking during a show about Kung-Fu. It may be a little unfair to compare it to Daredevil but it’s hard not to and everything about the action was lacking. The choreography, the directing and the editing was almost 13 shots of Liam Neeson jumping over a fence in Taken 3 level bad. If the actors put in a lot of hard work training I certainly couldn’t tell although most of the time stunt doubles were used. The use of stunt doubles was painfully obvious too which you have to pin on the directors because their faces were in almost constant view. I’m also pretty certain that in episode 12 the stunt double for Bakuto was so obvious that they had to blur his face! For several shots in the corridor fight his face has been blurred in post-production and it’s so obvious it takes you straight out of the show. So yeah, better action sequences for season 2 please.
It might have been a budgetary concern but I was disappointed with just how little we saw of K’un-Lun in the show. Maybe they wanted to stay away from another superhero origin story but they talked about it enough I’d have thought we would have seen more of it. Hopefully in a second season those 15 years will be fleshed out a bit more and once you mention that Danny went up against a Dragon it’s hard to take my mind away from Dragons so maybe next time they could actually show it rather than just some red glowing eyes.
Looking back, I’m surprised at how few times I’ve actually mentioned Danny and throughout the thirteen episodes I just found him to be both dull and dumb. I think Finn Jones was miscast but most of the blame goes to Scott Buck and the writing team for creating a thoroughly uninteresting take on the character. Hopefully The Defenders can make me and fellow watchers like him a lot more and create more of a thirst for a second season. Maybe a fellow defender could appear in a second season, possibly Luke Cage after he helped Jessica Jones’ debut season and Cage and Rand often team up in the comics. I feel thirteen episodes is often too many for these shows and I feel that 10 would have made season 1 much better, maybe the second season could tell its tale in a tighter way. Also, if Danny could stop saying “I’m Danny Rand” every ten minutes that would be great.
What do you want from a second season of Iron Fist? Let me know in the comments and geek out with me about all things Marvel on Twitter @kylebrrtt.