Iron Fist Season 1 Review - Its better than critics are saying

Many initial critics came out with negative reviews of Iron Fist and I was frankly very worried about it when I turned it on.

Before I give you a review I need you to know who I am.   I don't believe the background of the critic can not color their judgement.  I am a fan of Heroes of Hire comics series in which Iron Fist was one half of the team.  I always enjoyed the street smart Cage and idealistic but naive Iron Fist as they battled crime in the streets of NYC.  This of course is the main reason why Iron Fist survived the 70s because he and Cage are such an amazing partnership.  My primary concern in watching Cage is will he still be good good at teaming up with Iron Fist, and my primary concern watching Iron Fist is the inverse.  I am happy to say that Colter's Cage and Jone's Iron Fist are going to be great together!

Now for the review:

Iron Fist is GOOD! but in no way perfect.

Toylab Rating for Season 7.5/10

Video Review:

After binging through Season 1 of Iron Fist in a day there is a lot I can tell you.  Iron Fist is good and frankly very good.  Is it as good as Daredevil Season 1 no not quite to me that is still the hallmark of the Defenders series.  However, most interestingly Iron Fist resembles very closely Daredevil season 1.   The season early on tackles his origin, who he is, what does he want and introduces his surrounding cast.  This is done prior to getting into the epic kung fu battles that come later on in the season.

There are issues in the show Iron Fist but they are the typical Origin story problems.  To those who don't like super hero stories in the first place I think they have begun to hate any form of the typical hero origin story.   There is time spent on establishing who he is, his skills, his idealism, his spirituality, and worldly naivety.  However, Danny has one aspect to him that helps his show shoot off with a rocket.  Danny has no illusions about the Hand or his place in the world as a hero.  While Danny struggles with worldly things and street smarts he is very comfortable as his role as a Defender.  The other cool thing about Iron Fist is that like the Doctor Strange and Thor films he opens a door to a huge world.  A massive amount of characters and themes are introduced here.  The first character that gets a huge introduction is Colleen Wing is brilliant star throughout the entire series.

Season set up:
Without giving too much away I would say that the first 4-5 episodes focus on Danny's and Colleen Wing's origin stories.  After that the show begins to push into the Matt Fraction Immortal Iron Fist series....which is awesome!  The major corporate aspects of the show are mostly wrapped up by the 4th episode.  Most of what people have seen come from the first episode.

Fighting style:
Those worried about Finn Jones body or fighting style should be happy.  While Matt is the mad boxer, Jessica is a super strong detective and Luke Cage is walking steel, Danny is air, he fights like a gentle breeze that doesn't dodge so much as pivot.  He uses the strength of his opponents against themselves.

As an amateur fighter myself I can clearly see styles that include Kung Fu and Aikido.  In some sense his fighting style is both the most sophisticated and clear of all defenders.
As far as Finn not being buff enough he is not that kind of hero.  Iron Fist is not Thor, or Hulk he fights with grace and finesse.

Beefs with fight scenes:
I have two beefs with the fight scenes.  A the series lacked a Daredevil Hallway scene something huge and major that could have served as something for the entire season to really hang its hat on.  The season did feature some very strong fights.  May favorites being Danny vs Zhou Cheng, Danny vs two knife wielding Hand fighters and Colleen's final fight.

I also think that Danny's Iron Fist power was used too infrequently.  It was like the show was trying to save it for critical moments but it could have been used much more and built into the choreography.  I really feel that if his power was more integrated into later fight scenes and he appeared in costume it would have given the show a great deal heft.

I also didn't understand why they used the split screen technique in Bakuto fight scene for but only for a moment.  It felt like they needed to do more with it.

One problem of the first part of Iron Fist is that he has no opponents that offer a physical challenge.  The Meachums particularly Harold are great cerebral villains much like Zemo in Captain America Civil War but neither they nor their guards can match Iron Fists martial skills.  I felt similarly about much of the battles in Luke Cage.  It was hard to find an opponent that truly offered Cage a challenge.
The difference though is that villains by episode 4 start go up a notch and a big notch.

Harold Meachum was also a big positive surprise to me.  I was initially disappointed that the Meachum's would be antagonists for the full season and was happy when the Hand began to make a bigger appearance.  I wanted to see Iron Fist have his physical, and martial skills tested.  However, Harold in the end was really interesting.  The extra mystical aspects of his story really made him a wicked and very creepy villain.  The evolution of Ward and Joy by the end was also interesting and adds a layer of drama to Danny's future conflicts.

Iron Fist's / Danny Rand Persona
Some have criticized Danny for being to naive but I think that fits with the early parts of the character.  He grows up in a monastery and in some ways is very sheltered.

Toward the end his mental conflict seemed to be too over the top for me.  The little effect they pulse over Danny to show him being angry seemed like a little much.  I feel like his internal conflict would have been a good place to have Kun Lun flashbacks and show him learning from the Thunderer on mental techniques to control his emotions.  Maybe the show could even have featured a battle within his mind.  In the end the show made feel like one of the most erratic of the Defenders and he should really be the calming persona.

Rating of Episodes:
More updates to come:

  • Episode 1 -  Toylab Rating 9/10  - # of fight scenes 2
  • Episode 2 -  Toylab Rating 5/10  -  # of fight scenes 1 -Should have been added to 1
  • Episode 3 -  Toylab Rating 6/10 -  # of fight scenes  3
  • Episode 4 -  Toylab Rating 8/10 -  # of fight scenes 3  - Wing epic cage match, Triads attack
  • Episode 5 -  Toylab Rating 6/10 - # of fight scenes 1
  • Episode 6 -  Toylab Rating 8/10 -  Iron Fist fights in tournament against the hand
  • Episode 7 -  Toylab Rating 8/10 -  # of fight scenes 3 Hand vs Triads
  • Episode 8 -  Toylab Rating 8/10 -  First of episode is slow last part is explosive. Zhou Cheng!
  • Episode 9 -   Toylab rating 7/10  - Weird episode, creepyness is amped
  • Episode 10 - Toylab rating 8/10 - Bakuto / Old Iron Fist
  • Episode 11 - Toylab rating 7/10 - More information on Kun Lun more origin
  • Episode 12 -  Toylab rating 9/10 - Bakuto battle
  • Episode 13 -  Toylab rating 8/10 - Would have liked more evolution of Davos / Iron Fist

The Ending:
The ending of Iron Fist sets up two really cool plot points that make me very excited to see an Iron Fist Season 2.  The bad part of the ending is that Danny still feels some what lost in himself.  I didn't feel that other heroes of the Defender's series felt so astray.

The show seemed to leave a lot of potential on the table.  The fist could have been used more, Kun Lun could have been shown more, Davos as the Steel Serpent and of course the costume could have made a major appearance in the final episode.  The show left me wanting more but also a bit unsatiated and I think they could have given us more.  It does leave me eager to see Defenders and an Iron Fist season 2.

With the origin of Iron Fist out of the way though they will need to decide how they use him.  If Iron Fist is to operate on his own then the show must delve quickly into Fraction's Immortal Weapon series and not look back.  Otherwise it may be best if they simply explore Iron Fist through his partnership with Luke Cage.  I feel that generally the most interesting material of Iron Fist and Luke Cage appear with the two together.

Amazon Description:
Experience a brand-new kind of Iron Fist story, one steeped in legends and fables stretching back through the centuries! Orphaned as a child and raised in the lost city of K'un-Lun, Danny Rand returned to America as the mystical martial artist Iron Fist - but all his kung fu skills can't help him find his place in the modern world. After learning that the legacy of the Iron Fist holds more secrets than he ever dreamed, Danny is invited to fight in a tournament against the Immortal Weapons. At stake is the life of his friend, the legacy of his father and mentor...and the future of K'un-Lun!

COLLECTING: Immortal Iron Fist 1-16, Annual 1; Immortal Iron Fist: Orson Randall and the Green Mist of Death 1; Immortal Iron Fist: The Origin of Danny Rand 1; Civil War: Choosing Sides 1

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