While Daredevil combines boxing, martial arts and his signature billy-club to protect the streets of Hell's Kitchen, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage use heightened strength to pummel their enemies into submission. What all three of these Defenders have in common is a brutal approach to crime fighting; an approach that created some of the most savage and brutal fight scenes ever seen on TV. Then, Iron Fist happened.
To say that opinions are currently divided on Marvel's latest #Netflix show would be an understatement. Just take a look at Rotten Tomatoes, where Season 1 of Iron Fist currently holds a 16% approval rating among critics, and an 86% approval rating with fans.
Much of the criticism levelled at #IronFist revolves around the show's fight scenes. For someone who has trained to protect a mystical city of fighter monks for 15 years, Danny Rand doesn't always seem to be fully in control of his abilities. While Season 1 of Iron Fist was always intended to act as the last Defender's origin story, his lack of kung-fu mastery has still become a bone of contention for fans who wished to see Iron Fist fulfil his destiny from the get-go.
The Negative Reaction On Twitter Has Been Brutal
As funny as the tweet above is, it suggests that one of the key elements of Iron Fist has been mishandled, at least according to some of the fans. Blame seems to be laid equally on the direction of the fight scenes and the actors themselves, who were intimately involved in the show's more lacklustre brawls.
For example, while the other #Marvel Netflix shows feature a number of unforgettable fights shot in just one or two takes, critics have lamented the surprising amount of cuts used in some of Iron Fist's fight sequences.
A number of impressive guest appearances from stars more versed in martial arts have also been used to highlight a supposed lack of talent from #FinnJones. But why were the fight scenes so divisive, and do they deserve all the disdain heaped upon them?
Preparation For The Fight Scenes On 'Iron Fist' Was Surprisingly Rushed
During an unnecessarily harsh interview with The Telegraph, titled "How does it feel to be the world's most hated superhero?", Finn Jones explained that the filming schedule cut preparation down more than he would have liked:
“Unfortunately, with the filming schedule, I wasn’t given as much time as I would have liked to continue the training. I was learning those fight scenes just 15 minutes before we shot them, because that was the schedule... It would be 2am, 3am, I’d just done a long day of work, and usually the stunt department would come up and say ‘Hey, right, we’ve got this huge 30 person fight and you’ve got to learn it right now.’ So I was learning it on the spot, within 15-20 minutes, and then shooting it. That was the reality for six months.”
As much as we champion Iron Fist, this interview does explain why some of the fight scenes lack the electric energy one would expect from a show like this. However, this also makes the fights that work even more impressive. If Jessica Henwick's Colleen Wing could pull off that cage match sequence with little such preparation, imagine how she would have fared given more time.
A lack of preparation may certainly have hampered Iron Fist, but in reality, Finn Jones did everything he could to make Danny Rand's first outing a success.
What Preparation Did Finn Jones Take For The Role Of 'Iron Fist'?
Any problems that fans or critics hold with the martial arts used in Iron Fist shouldn't be directed towards Finn Jones. After all, during an interview with EW, the star revealed that he prepared extensively before filming began:
“At the moment I’m in the physical preparation for the role. Every day for the last month, I start my day with about two and a half hours of martial arts – which is kung fu and wushu mixed with a bit of tai chi, and other stuff as well. In the afternoon I’ll do weight training with a trainer to bulk me up and get my physically right for the part. And in evenings I’ve been doing meditation classes and learning buddhist philosophies.”
There's also a considerable chance that Danny's fights were deliberately choreographed to show the character's progression throughout the show. Sure, the Iron Fist had trained for years in K'un-Lun, but it's one thing to spar with friends, and quite another to fight The Hand for real.
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While it's disheartening to hear that Finn Jones wasn't given the preparation time that one would expect from a show of this scale, the kung-fu fights on display are often far more impressive than critics give them credit for. From Danny's brawl with The Bride Of Nine Spiders to that climatic battle in the finale, Rand's martial arts technique flowed with a zen-like rhythm that was mesmerizing to watch. Sure, the other Defenders are great at taking down enemies through brute force, but Finn Jones counters and pivots in a way that truly captures the essence of the character.