The first critical reviews of Marvel's Iron Fist just hit the internet, and if you were hoping the Marvel-Netflix series would be a slam dunk in terms of brilliance, you might want to adjust your expectations a little, because Danny Rand and his mystical chi are not hitting that sweet spot.
Let's take a look at the first #IronFist reviews.
Variety: "Dry, Hollow, Deadly In All The Wrong Ways"
In her review for Variety, Maureen Ryan warns that binge-viewers might find #Netflix's Iron Fist a serious endurance test, and questions why the series exists in the first place:
"Iron Fist is the most frustrating and ferociously boring example of Netflix Drift in some time. 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. And as origin stories go, the tale of Danny Rand (Finn Jones) is about as exciting as a slice of Velveeta cheese left out in the sun too long.
Jones 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. Why couldn't Henwick be the star of Iron Fist?"
Polygon: "So Laughably Bad, I Thought I Was Hallucinating"
Writing for Polygon, Susana Polo's strongly negative review describes the scripting as terrible, character motivations nonsensical and Danny Rand himself as a mystery nobody will be particularly bothered about solving:
"Iron Fist is laughably bad. I found myself incredulously texting coworkers who also had screener access to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating.
One character inexplicably still trusts two others as allies even after they had him falsely committed to a mental health facility for several days. Another develops a violently expressed addiction to painkillers in practically the space of a single episode.
Instead of kung fu adventure, the first six episodes have a strange preoccupation with corporate maneuvering, as if that is the reason we’d be watching a show about a martial arts master who can summon the power of an ancient dragon."
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Den Of Geek: "Danny Is Likeable But The Show Is Visually Bland And Far Too Slow"
In a less viciously negative review, Den of Geek find some positives to Iron Fist while concluding that as a whole it's horribly slow to get going, only generating any real excitement in episode six:
"Weaving in Danny’s backstory proves a little trickier than it did in earlier Marvel/Netflix efforts. As usual, our main character’s origin is only hinted at and glimpsed in flashbacks and exposition, and Danny’s actual motivations and the nature of his powers remain pretty obscure. If the show would commit to whether the audience is supposed to believe Danny's outlandish story or not, that would be one thing, but it tries to have it both ways.
It's easy to see where Danny's personality will fit in with the rest of the team once The Defenders rolls around. But there’s something missing from Iron Fist. Visually, it’s a little bland ... and it takes nearly three episodes before you get a sense of why anyone behaves the way they do. Flashbacks are awkwardly placed, characters make baffling decisions, and the general impression is sometimes that the show is filling time."
Collider: "Some Bits Work, Some Are Just A Spat Between Bratty Billionaires"
Allison Keene's review for Collider points out that Iron Fist has a few great moments, but struggles to tell a cohesive story.
"The show takes a few of its early episodes to consider whether or not the protagonist might be crazy, or if he really does have powers and is who he says. Unfortunately, this isn’t our first Marvel rodeo with these Netflix shows, so there are no stakes here.
Iron Fist’s glacial pace forces plot points and character interactions to be drawn out to a ludicrous degree. Even when things do pick up from there, the editing is choppy, the narrative doesn’t connect particularly well, and Danny’s personality and decision making abilities are split somewhere between an adult man and a 12-year-old boy.
Finn Jones has done a great job learning a variety of different fighting styles, and shows something different from what else we’ve seen in Marvel’s Netflix universe, something we also see with the character of Colleen Wing (Jessica Henwick) — and yet, there are times when the show just seems like one large spat among bratty billionaires."
As always, the opinions of critics are best taken with a pinch of salt — I'll still be checking out at least a couple of episodes. Iron Fist begins March 17 on Netflix.
Are you rooting for Iron Fist to prove the critics wrong?