Danny Rand’s journey home from K’un-Lun was fraught with difficulty and danger, but there’s one hazard Iron Fist did not expect: bad reviews.
Critical opinion is in for Marvel’s Iron Fist, the final piece of the Defenders puzzle set to premiere on March 17 on Netflix. Unfortunately, most reviews are pummeling the Immortal Weapon, calling his series “boring,” and Marvel’s first “misfire.”
In Iron Fist, Danny Rand (Finn Jones) returns home to New York to reclaim his family’s corporate empire after 15 years in K’un-Lun, a mystical city that appears on Earth every decade or so. After his family’s plane crashes over the Himalayas, Danny is adopted by monks who train him to become a living weapon. In the comics, Danny Rand wields the power of the Iron Fist, passed down to those who prove worthy by punching a dragon and digging their hands into a fire. That awesome story is the backdrop for the Netflix show, but in the first six episodes, Danny mostly navigates corporate politics with only a few scuffles with Triad gangs.
It’s the emphasis on Rand’s mission to win back his company that’s let critics down in reviews that started appearing online Wednesday morning. Additional critiques are aimed towards Danny himself, who is characterized as the type of guy who mansplains kung fu to women who are already capable fighters. In a show about supernatural kung fu, critics argue that Marvel’s Iron Fist is too focused on Rich People Drama than an otherworldly hero battling evil ninjas in the streets of New York City.
Allison Keen of Collider characterized Iron Fist as “a confused, choppy mix of the supernatural seen through the lens of business casual.” Keen argues, Iron Fist “doubles down” on the same problems suffered by more adored shows like Jessica Jones and Daredevil.
“Iron Fist isn’t terrible, and some of it is actually very good, but it should be so much better. What could have been the boldest series is instead the quietest.”
For UPROXX, Alan Sepinwall writes that it is harsher, calling Iron Fist “all talk.” “painfully dull,” and Marvel’s “first complete misfire.” For a show about martial arts, “the fighting is both brief and unconvincing” and that Iron Fist is “easily the worst of the Netflix Marvel shows” as it suffers from the same pacing problems of the other Netflix/Marvel fares from its very beginning.
Daniel Fienberg of The Hollywood Reporter, who calls Iron Fist “a step backward on every level,” adds to the criticism of Danny.
Besides unlikeable characterization, Fienberg says Iron Fist also forgot to have exciting fight scenes.
“Danny’s fights are weakly staged and all-too-brief, without any effort to even pretend that the show’s leading man is doing any of his own stunts.”
Polygon’s Susana Polo writes that the show has “problems with delivering exposition, crafting consistent characters, and even basic dialogue writing.”
Kwame Opam of The Verge is critical of the show’s race problems involving a white guy saving New York with kung fu he learned abroad. But that’s only a fraction of the issues he had with Iron Fist, which he calls “a boring, confused, and offensive mess of a series, one that’s as bad at diversity as it is telling a story that superhero fans will enjoy.”
Opam adds that Iron Fist “lacks the impact it so desperately needed.” “Fans feared the worst when the series was announced, and all their fears came true.”
Mike Cecchini from Den of Geek! is more optimistic but admits that Iron Fist has severe pacing issues. “I kept waiting for Iron Fist to kick it into another gear, and that sixth episode aside, it never quite did.” He has high praise for the show’s sixth episode, directed by Wu-Tang member and known martial arts aficionado RZA, which has a “stronger visual identity and more obvious martial arts connections on display here.”
Marvel’s Iron Fist will premiere March 17.