Iron Fist Review: Less of a superhero series, more of a 90s Bollywood masala film
Is Iron Fist the first flop for Marvel?
A rich kid witnesses his parents' murders, and vows to extract revenge on the villains (evil relatives/close family friends). He returns years later, stronger, wiser, ready to take on the world and the people who did him wrong.
Sounds like the plot of your favourite Bollywood masala film from the 90s, right?
It's not. Its the story-line of Iron Fist. The final Defender's first 13 episodes are available on Netflix from Friday, 17 March 2017.
The final defender's story is set in the boardrooms and sky rises of Manhattan, New York, as opposed to Luke Cage's street fights in Queens or Matt Murdock fighting in Hell's Kitchen.
The plot follows a hero similar to Batman, but one trying to channel his 'Chi'.
Danny Rand returns to New York City after his wealthy family's plane crashed in the Himalayas when he was 10, a calamity that took his parents' lives and led him to the mythic city of K'un-Lun.
He strolls into town, barefoot and walks right into Rand Industries as the rightful heir to his dad’s company. But all is not well. Rand Cooperation is being run by his family friends, Ward (Tom Pelphrey) and Joy Meachum (Jessica Stroup).
They presumed Danny was dead, and think the person they are dealing with has a mental health problem. They then declare that he has a psychotic illness when he says he has superpowers. The mental asylum is filled with people who were promised to be let go after three days, but, after each being diagnosed with further controversial mental problems, were kept imprisoned against their will. If only the writers had developed this story, it would have been an interesting realistic element to the show: what happens when superheroes admit they superpowers? Will they not be considered mentally ill by most?
Instead, the writers drop this story-line in the second episode itself and move on to the next plot twist.
Will Danny find his place in the corporate world while dealing with a mysterious evil infecting the Manhattan underworld? Only time and episodes will tell.
On the other side, he has a romance brewing with Colleen Wing (Jessica Henwick), a martial arts teacher.
Coming to the central point of controversy: Iron Fist has always been a white character in the comic books, but because of the recent diversity issues within Hollywood, there was an online campaign to cast a more Asian looking actor for the lead role.
This might have worked in the series favour because Finn Jones is a miscast in the role. To have the Game of Thrones veteran spout Buddhist wisdom and try kung-fu moves just doesn't work. Jones is no Bruce Lee, he has very little screen presence and no fighting chops.
Jessica Henwick's action scenes fare much better, but the shots are edited so aggressively it is impossible to tell. Henwick is definitely the best part about the show — she brings out her comic book character perfectly with the snarls and cynicism Colleen is known for.
The show might not shine as a your typical Marvel superhero bonanza — but it could make an interesting watch for those who like drama and are feeling nostalgic about their favourite 90s Bollywood masala film.
Tom Hardy's film wants to lean in on its inherent silliness, while also raising emotional stakes with a story supposedly about friendship and self-acceptance.
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