Iron Fist, the latest dark and dramatic collab between Netflix and Marvel, has been called a lot of things over the past few weeks.
Vanity Fair calls it "a mess." "Frustrating and ferociously boring," says Variety. GQ says it's Netflix's first big "superhero flop," and USA Today says it's a "super-fail." According to THR, it "feels like a step backward on every level."
One of the nicest critiques we could find is that it's "mostly just entirely unremarkable," according to Digital Spy.
Those are some seriously cruel reviews, the likes of which Netflix has rarely seen, especially when it comes to its Marvel originals. But are they deserved?
First, let's get the basics out of the way. Iron Fist stars Finn Jones as Danny Rand, the heir to his family's multibillion dollar empire. Everybody thought he died along with the rest of his family in a plane crash, but surprise! He didn't! He returns 15 years later after a lot of meditation and martial arts training to try and take back his old life with the help of a friendly dojo owner (and the show's best character) named Colleen (Jessica Henwick). Sometimes, Danny's fist is magic. But only sometimes.
From the pilot, you can tell there's something a little lackluster about this final bridge before the Defenders series finally arrives. The fight scenes aren't as impressive as they should be. The dialogue seems a little rough, and everything just feels even slower than usual. Why does Danny not realize how weird it is to show up shoeless and claiming to be the heir to a massive fortune? Why did Danny choose a look that seems like he should also be rocking white dreads and a cloud of smoke? Why is Danny explaining martial arts to a woman who literally owns her own dojo? A lot of things just didn't make a lot of sense.
Strangely enough, the premise wasn't enough to make us all that interested in the show. Instead, we were more intrigued by the strikingly bad reviews, and the fact that while many criticized it as bland and unremarkable, the show seems to have inspired a whole bunch of creativity among TV critics.
Here are a few of our favorite lines:
"And as origin stories go, the tale of Danny Rand (Finn Jones), at least as rendered by this creative team, is about as exciting as a slice of Velveeta cheese left out in the sun too long." — Mo Ryan, Variety
"'If you want to see the truth, then hold no opinions,' Rand intones at one point. Well, it's part of this gig to issue assessments, and the truth is, Iron Fist is as disposable as aluminum foil." - Mo Ryan, Variety
"With all of the initial concerns about appropriation and the whitewashing of Asian themes at the center of the story, it isn't surprising that Henwick is exactly good enough to make you wish that Colleen Wing were the focus of the series. At the very least, her fight scenes are more convincing, even as she's constantly having her autonomy and areas of expertise second-guessed by a protagonist who looks like, and exhibits the urgency of, the missing Masterson brother." — Dan Fienberg, THR
"Iron Fist's most cringeworthy scene is when Danny mansplains her fighting technique to her in her own dojo. As a white boy who is into rap, Danny should know that there are entire albums about how you just don't do that s--t." — Joshua Rivera, GQ
"Marvel's Iron Fist isn't just the wimpiest punch ever thrown by the world's mightiest superhero factory. The new Netflix binge swings and misses so bad that it spins itself around and slaps itself silly with a weirdly flaccid hand." — Jeff Jensen, EW
"Thre's a sad, puppyish quality to Iron Fist, Netflix's latest colorless Marvel series. It has this eager and hopeless air about it, an ugly shelter dog that wants to be loved despite its crude proportions, its hurried design. So you kinda feel sorry for it, trying to be all cool and edgy, striking an awkwardly defiant pose as it insists that it has any sense of narrative consistency or momentum. Aw, poor Iron Fist! Tragic little thing." — Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair
"If Iron Fist was an otherwise boring series with a hero who kicked butt in exciting ways early and often, I'd forgive the bland expository parts in the same way I do for a lot of action shows and movies. And if Finn Jones couldn't fight but was otherwise a riveting screen presence blessed with sparkling dialogue and a compelling character arc, I'd get past the alleged living weapon's lame physical prowess. But when neither part works at all, why would anyone but the most devout, masochistic Marvel completist want to watch?" — Alan Sepinwall, Uproxx
Have you checked out Iron Fist yet? Let us know your own brutally honest assessment of the series in the comments below!
Iron Fist is now streaming on Netflix.