Released this past Friday, Netflix's newest Marvel series Iron Fist has received mostly negative reviews. It's currently holding a dismal 17 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with an only slightly better 37 percent rating on Metacritic. Its performance is particularly surprising given the critical acclaim the other shows in Netflix's Marvel lineup have received. Jessica Jones holds a 93 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, while Luke Cage and Daredevil are at a 96 percent and an 87 percent, respectively. So what is it about Iron Fist that's making critics tear it apart and throw it to the wolves? After binging the entire first season, here are a few ideas. Spoilers ahead!
You know that feeling when you realize you've accidentally said something aloud that was meant to remain an internal thought? That's essentially what happens throughout the entire series, except Danny (Finn Jones) does it on purpose. He is overly trusting and honest to a fault, sharing every emotion or thought that he has. The character is a nice change of pace in comparison to the more traditional, emotionally closed-off superhero, but his candidness doesn't help the story progress.
Also, almost every time he's on screen with a female character, he begins to mansplain, causing our eyes to roll. Case in point: he explains to Colleen the basics of martial arts instruction, even though she's been running a dojo for years.
Iron Fist is a superhero who is supposed to be a martial arts master and talented acrobat with heightened speed and strength. He fights many different battles throughout the season, but it isn't his skill or power that allows him to win. Everyone he fights seems to be an equal match to him. It's only after mustering up courage and channeling his chi (things that can't be seen) that he's able to overcome his opponent. Furthermore, the actual "iron fist" (glowing hand and all), is hardly ever used due to a constant "emotional blockage."
New plot lines are introduced and built up, but never resolve; they just fizzle out, making the storyline harder to follow. For example, The Hand's chemist and his daughter are taken hostage. Danny and his friends move heaven and earth to rescue them, which they do to some extent. The daughter is saved but never reunited with her father or seen/mentioned again. This kind of thing happens countless times: Danny, Colleen, and Claire make an unnecessary one-day trip to China. Colleen's "troubled past" is hardly explained. We never learn what The Hand has done to Harold to make him immortal. No one looks for Ward after he's institutionalized against his will. Some of these are more important than others, but if they aren't significant enough to resolve fully, why include them at all?
Almost every single character in Iron Fist is unlikeable, untrustworthy, and unremarkable. Yes, Danny was chosen to be the Iron Fist and he's a relatively good guy. However, his naiveté, honesty, and trust in others are what cause all of his troubles. He never realizes this, making him very annoying. Colleen is great, until you find out that she's a member of The Hand. Let's not even get started on the Meachum family. From murder and kidnapping to drug addiction and abuse, they're one hot mess after another. Sadly, the most likable characters of the series, Hogarth and Claire, aren't featured as much as they should be. (They're also pulled from the other Marvel shows.)
Despite these imperfections and most critics' harsh opinions, fans seem to love the show. In fact, most of the tweets under the #IronFist hashtag have been generally positive and in support of the new Marvel series. Hopefully, that's enough to convince Netflix to keep the show around for season two!