Netflix’s Iron Fist is the ultimate TV recommendation for anyone you hate.
The series is the final element in a string of Marvel-Netflix superhero specials (Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Daredevil) that have been released over the past two years.
Iron Fist was meant to amp audiences up before all three heroes come together in one action-packed, super-series called The Defenders.
Listen to Laura Brodnik and Tiffany Dunk explain what is so wrong with Iron Fist.
Instead, fans are offered the story of a man who returns to New York after ten years training with a league of elite warrior monks.
He’s back. He’s the ‘chosen one’. He’s incapable of proving to his childhood friends that he is their long lost pal Danny Rand in ten words or less.
He can’t prove it in an episode. He can barely prove it in two.
Watching the character repeatedly shout, “but I AM DANNY RAND,” without immediately listing memories the three would share is the most infuriating television you will see this week. Unless you also watched Married At First Sight.
But it gets worse.
Iron Fist is also full of Asian cliches. A bit of dragon imagery here, a bit of Buddhist teachings there, a smidgen of 'Chi', a splatter of secrecy et voila: all our stereotypes in one cosy place.
The cultural cherry picking might even be tolerable if Iron Fist didn't cast a white actor to play its lead protagonist.
Finn Jones leads the series with his golden hair and scruffy beard. Jones is not bad in the role but he is bad as the role.
For although his character was Caucasian in the original comic, the missed opportunity to cast an Asian actor in a series that so openly samples Asian culture is disappointing if not shameful.
The series' sidekick, Colleen Wing, played by Asian actress, Jessica Henwick, stands as a beacon of light in terms of positive representation. She is strong, darkly funny, and truly charismatic.
When Rand's character meets Wing he immediately bursts into waves of Mandarin. The assumption that she'd be able to speak Mandarin is painful to watch.
Wing responds with a request that he speak either English or Japanese as she hasn't spoken Mandarin since childhood.
The next notable interaction between them is when Rand demonstrates that he, the billionaire white man, can teach Wing a thing or two about her own culture.
Rand begins to assist Wing in better harnessing her Chi. The series allows for her to be briefly offended before she accepts his teachings.
It's cultural inserts such as these that continuously pop up and remind the audience that Iron Fist is a show almost made for white men to feel good about themselves.
If you turn the volume all the way up on your television or computer, you might hear the gentle hum of: 'I can do anything, you can do, better. I can do anything better than you.'
Critics have called out Iron Fist for its painful cultural portrayals but that's not why the series is bad - although, it is a leading factor.
Iron Fist mostly suffers under the weight of its poor writing. The initial three episodes are probably the worst before it's offered some relief from the beginnings of a plot.
The fight scenes are also fun if you enjoy D-grade Kung Fu movies (I do).
Iron Fist will not see you promising to "catch up on sleep tomorrow" but it might offer you something to hate with a stranger at a party. Is that win? I'll let you decide.
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