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Iron Fist Reviews Are In: What the Critics Are Saying About Our Newest Defender

It's no Daredevil

Shaunna Murphy

On Friday, March 17, all 13 episodes of Marvel's Iron Fist will hit (karate chop?) Netflix simultaneously. However, a handful of lucky critics were able to watch Danny Rand (Finn Jones), Colleen Wing (Jessica Henwick), and the rest of the gang fight danger weeks in advance.

Their reviews hit the interwebs on Wednesday, and here's what TV's finest minds are saying about our newest Defender -- a former billionaire who was presumed dead for 15 years, then returned to New York city to reclaim his family business and save his city.

The Villain(s) Show Potential

"Danny grew up thinking of his father's business partner, Harold Meachum (David Wenham), as a second father, and Harold's two children Ward (Tom Pelphrey) and Joy (Jessica Stroup) as his siblings. But instead he finds that his father's influence has been all but scrubbed from the company, and the Meachums have essentially taken over what should have been the Rands' lives ... Six episodes in, it's even hard to know who the real villain of Iron Fist is. Presumably, ultimately, it's the Hand. But since that storyline also connects to Daredevil, that showdown might be saved for The Defenders. While the Meachums aren't great villains, they are very layered, good characters (Ward and Joy are also believable siblings, and thank God we are spared from yet another televised incest storyline). Ward's jealousy over Danny is something that builds over time, with flashbacks and allusions to their complicated relationship. It works well (especially as some unexpected, very subtle comic relief). Joy, who initially just seems like a pawn, ends up being one of the most shrewd and calculating characters, one who is increasingly pulled into a moral quagmire and forced to consider who she is now, and who she wants to be. And yet, there are times when the show just seems like one large spat among bratty billionaires." -- Collider

...But There's A Lack Of Subtext

"Matt Murdock is driven by his Catholic guilt, Jessica Jones by traumatic assault and consent issues, Luke Cage by America's multi-century history of imperiled black masculinity. Iron Fist arrives in a deep hole amid concerns about its curly-haired, blonde protagonist appropriating Asian culture, but the bigger problem ends up being that he's barely even appropriating. There's no specificity to Danny's experience other than the most generic of identity crises -- like the world needed another billionaire vigilante -- and Jones is far too placid a leading man to give any sense of Danny's internal torment. He's not placid in a Zen way, just tepid like room temperature. Rather than being a man who found enlightenment through tragedy and disassociation from his upbringing, Danny comes across like a spoiled frat boy who took a Comparative Religion class and spends a few months picking up coeds by telling them he's totally into meditation and tai chi now." -- The Hollywood Reporter

Iron Fist's Finn Jones quits Twitter after conversation about whitewashing

Come For Danny Rand, Stay For Claire Temple

"Really, the only recommendable parts are the appearances by characters from the other shows, like Carrie-Anne Moss as icy lawyer Jeri Hogarth and Rosario Dawson as vigilante nurse Claire Temple, who instantly outclasses everyone else onscreen when she turns up in the sixth episode. They're more energetic performances than anything the core Iron Fist actors give, but they also benefit from having gotten better writing elsewhere that gives this show's creative team -- led by Scott Buck, who was showrunner on the later seasons of Dexter, and one of the two credited writers on the episode that gave us Dexter Morgan: Lumberjack -- guidance in how best to use them." -- UPROXX



David Giesbrecht/Netflix

The Action Lacks "Snap"

"Not one element of this plodding piece works. The action scenes lack spark, snap, and originality. None of the flat, by-the-numbers characters makes any lasting impression ... The story of an rich young orphan who is called to a higher purpose or acquires superpowers is a pop-culture scenario that's been seen many times before, but everything from The Lego Batman Movie to the early seasons of Arrow are proof that, in the right hands, there's life in that premise. Jones, however, is so bland and charisma-free in the lead role that one longs for scenes in which Jessica Henwick turns up as a martial arts instructor. -- Yahoo

"White Savior" Issues Are Impossible To Ignore

"Much has already been written about Danny's status as a white savior. The title of Iron Fist doesn't just make him a superhero; he's the latest in a long line of protector warriors for his stereotypical Orientalist culture. That's true to the character's comics origin, as told during comics' so-called Kung-Fu Craze of the mid-1970s. But the story doesn't fly in 2017, so the show took some steps to correct that past, by making K'un-Lun at least nominally diverse ... However, the show never interrogates Danny's questionable position. He's still a privileged white member of the 1 percent drawing power from a fictionalized Asian culture, destined to save his corner of New York from evil. Given that he's still the one person capable of taking up the Iron Fist mantle, it's hard to decouple his whiteness from his elevated position." -- The Verge