Film & TV

Marvel’s Iron Fist: There’s just some shit you can’t punch

Claire Temple, played by Rosario Dawson across all of Netflix’s Marvel series (Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage) is the Marvel-Netflix universe’s Morgan Freeman, a.k.a. the voice of reason, packaged in a strong, incorruptible body. She may not have any superpowers (that we know of), but she does have a knack for showing up just in time. Iron Fist is not her first rodeo — as a nurse to wounded superheroes, she’s stiched up Matt Murdoch and Luke Cage, and have gotten involved in their business. She understands the duality that exists in the world, but is also (painfully) aware that things are rarely so simple. In spite of this, she sticks to what she knows: healing the injured and convincing heroes not to go darkside. In the last few episodes of Iron Fist, we see her trying so desperately to talk some sense into Danny Rand (Iron Fist) and his ally and lover Colleen Wing, before they made any rash decisions and did anything they would regret, such as murder. We don’t know if she fails or succeeds, let’s just say things go in her favor. Claire has been hailed as a breath of fresh air that showed up in the series at the right time — just when we were starting to get sick of Danny charging into fights, believing anyone who says anything to him, and being so singular in purpose: Destroy The Hand.

Iron Fist is not loved for many reasons, some valid, some plain ridiculous. The series creators were accused of whitewashing for casting Finn Jones as the Iron Fist. There was a clamor for an Asian Iron First, but the fact that we got a white one isn’t the problem. While some critics still couldn’t get past it, there are other issues that arise as each episode unfolds. I personally liked the show and I’m not here to break things down for you like a critic would. I have no such capacities. My superpower is strictly telling people what I enjoyed and didn’t enjoy.

First, the distractions. Where do I begin? Iron Fist has so many. I guess we can start with Danny’s curly cherub blonde hair. It’s the first thing that you see the minute he shows up in New York. He’s dirty and without footwear, and yet you see his hair. You’re not supposed to notice hair in a show like this — it’s not supposed to be a distraction. But no one made any effort to make it better. I was hoping for a grand makeover, good thing I didn’t hold my breath. It just seemed to get curlier and more golden as the show progressed.

And then there’s Harold and Ward Meechum. Harold is just…. he’s so convincing as a reanimated body. He reminds me of Senator Kelly in X-Men. His hair, his complexion, the way he talks, everything about him is distracting and infuriating. I get it, he’s a villain, but as you know Christopher Nolan created pretty charming and awesome villains for the Dark Knight series. The moment he saw “Where did you go?” written on his penthouse window, I felt like I was watching a cartoon. The same goes for his son Ward, but at least his character had a bit more dimension. Fluctuating from doting brother to evil incarnate, you just never know what he’s gonna do. Even when he’s actually being sincere and wiping tears from his eyes, he still looks suspicious.

Second, the questions. I have several. Why did Danny really leave K’un-Lun? Why didn’t he know about his healing powers? Why didn’t they teach him — I mean, he made it all the way to the dragon, right? His “feeling empty and looking for myself” speech wasn’t very convincing. Bruce Wayne came back for Gotham. Oliver Queen came back to avenge his father. And Danny wanted to… look for himself? Isn’t that what all that time in the monastery for? That he doesn’t know what his purpose is to begin with makes the show a confusing ride for everyone. Danny is figuring things out as we are figuring things out, and at some point we’re all just lost. (Read: all the episodes they’re trying to capture Madame Gao. It can’t have been all because of the heroin.) It can at times feel like we know Danny more than he knows himself — and this is a big problem for a TV show. We’d rather be taken for a ride than yelling at our laptops, telling the hero that his plan is stupid. Good thing we have Claire to tell him for us.

Why was Colleen so blind to Bakuto’s motives? She seems like a smart woman. How couldn’t she have seen what he was doing, asking her to deliver Danny Rand to the Hand? Maybe Bakuto really did just see her as a girl teaching kids in a dojo, not as a partner or a right-hand, hence hiding all the important details from her. But not once did she notice this before Bakuto stabbed Danny?

Finally, What was Joy Meechum doing with Davos the Steel Serpent? She had a talk with her dad about him setting up Danny, proving that Ward was indeed telling the truth and that he really wanted to help. What was all of that for if he was just going to meet up with Danny’s soon-to-be mortal enemy? What pushed her to do that even when the truth had already been laid out for her? Why did she break? Having said that, Joy would make a great villain. She’s smart, she’s fundamentally good, she cares for people — this makes her complex and interesting.

Still, I like the show. I finished it — that’s more than I can say for Luke Cage, in which the brooding and pushing people away got old real quick. With Iron Fist, we have a hero who is naïve, sometimes stupid, and calms his inner rage by fixing his qi. Maybe we’re just used to our heroes being stereotypical damaged goods. Iron Fist welcomes (and asks) for help from Colleen and Claire. He’s an actual ray of light, with a golden mop to boot. He’s not great at strategizing (the only real strategizing he did was swinging in through the window). His girlfriend is better than him at martial arts. He doesn’t seem invincible. All he has going for him is that iron fist, hence that line from Claire: “There’s just some shit you can’t punch.” I would like to think Iron Fist not being as good as Jessica Jones or Daredevil is just a function of Danny Rand being an ensemble kind of hero. The Defenders just finished filming. Maybe there’s hope for the Iron Fist yet?

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