Iron Fist – The Middle Child

On March 17, 2017 Netflix released their last Marvel series leading up to the Defenders set to release sometime this fall. Previous to the release of the series Iron Fist was marred with lack luster reviews from several critics. Vox.com cites the show as “… an ill-conceived, poorly written disaster”; Digital Spy claims ” Marvel’s Newest Netflix superhero is supremely unremarkable- and that’s a big problem”. Simply typing into  google “Iron Fist Review” will leave any fan with a disappointing taste in their mouth; however, there is some light at the end of the dark tunnel of negative reviews.

In an article posted today by Rebecca Hawkes for The Telegraph she states that despite all the negative press by critics that the fans love the show. Her article cites several tweets from fans claiming that the initial reviews from critics were wrong and “stupidly wrong”. She does note later on in the article that all critics were only provided with the initial 6 episodes of the show. This would lead to a fairly different impression for critics than the fans, most of whom probably binged the whole series this weekend.  Only permitting the critics to view the first 6 episodes and provide a proper accurate critique is just not feasible. One of the main issues I discovered while reading some reviews of the series before its release were the unfocused and unresolved story arcs. Now knowing the type of shows that Marvel puts out on Netflix, reading this had me concerned. It had me concerned for the fact that if this was the last piece to the Defenders puzzle and it didn’t resolve anything, it might mar the release of Defenders by them having to resolve the story arcs in Iron Fist first. This obviously wasn’t the case with the show as it wrapped up most of the story arcs nicely. I say most because there were a few left open but that’s expected in a series like this.

If you have watched the Netflix shows from the Debut of Daredevil in April of 2015, the bar has been set high with only a few falters in the run. Both seasons of Daredevil continue to impress and Jessica Jones brought us the best villain by far. Luke Cage was a great insight into the culture of Harlem and provided us with one of the most memorable lines uttered in the series ” Always forward… forward always”.

The only problem with the Netflix universe for Marvel is the inconsistent pacing of the shows.  Daredevil very much starts off on  a high note and the adrenaline rarely ceases as the show forges forward.  Jessica Jones had a slow start but around episode 5 when you are finally introduced to Killgrave ( played by the captivating David Tenant) the show picks up and the stakes get higher with each episode. Luke Cage began his run as a secondary character in Jessica Jones and was often, along with Patsy, the character that kept Jessica grounded. While Mike Colter’s portrayal of Carl Lucas is nothing short of spectacular, the show didn’t have the same stakes as the previous shows did. It maintained its very constant pace throughout and provided much more character building and reflection than either Daredevil or Jessica Jones did. Iron Fist was the perfect blend of all these shows. It had action sequences that could rival Daredevil’s (though not as frequent) and the overall arc of Rand Industries helped to keep the story moving without making it so central on the Hand.

Iron Fist does fall short in the same aspect that Captain America: The First Avenger and Dr. Strange did, it was merely a set up. The entire ad campaign for Iron Fist featured the slogan “The Final Defender Arrives”, which while accurate in their marketing scheme takes away from the character as a whole. The first Captain America movie had the subtitle The First Avenger, which made it seem like in order to see the Avengers you had to watch this first. This is the same pitfall that Iron Fist fell into. It was made to seem like in order to view the Defenders, you had to watch Iron Fist. I previously mentioned Dr. Strange had the same pitfall as well, while theirs wasn’t in advertising it was related to the conclusion of the movie.

*WARNING* If you have not seen Dr. Strange there will be a major spoiler for the conclusion of the film… TURN BACK NOW if you want to discover for yourself. 

At the end of the movie once Strange and his cohorts have defeated Dormammu and Kaecilius, Wong tells Dr. Strange that he has been running around with an Infinity Stone around his neck. This line alone made the entire movie not worth watching in the aspect that it removed all relevance of the movie except to set up the location of the Time stone. It could’ve done with just allowing the audience to believe that’s where Strange’s time  manipulation power came from without revealing it until Infinity War.

Infinity stones and Avengers aside, Iron Fist most certainly was not the bomb that early reviews made it out to be. To see a true bomb, watch the Assassin’s Creed movie… now THERE is a bomb.  Iron Fist just did what it was meant to do and did it well.  Iron Fist is indeed the middle child. Anyone with a family of 3 knows that the first is the trial, while the last is the baby that can do no wrong. The middle child is the one that learned from the mistakes of the first was still held accountable for a lot, yet the just did their own thing and stayed under the radar.  While Iron Fist wasn’t a knock out like Daredevil it also wasn’t the slow moving monotonous marathon of Luke Cage or the first half of Jessica Jones. As a long time comic fan and a huge fan of the Netflix series I will add my voice in saying Iron Fist was awesome, and the early critics didn’t know what they were talking about.

 

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