It was difficult to pull off but Marvel's Iron Fist did it. Thanks to hapless amounts of unnecessary social justice commentary around, a fog of mystery surrounds the show as to what it really is. Many felt the casting of Finn Jones as the titular character over an Asian-American was a big mistake. Mind you, the comic book character is a white guy.
The movie was heavily panned by most critics with some citing the casting choice but most admitting it didn't affect the movie at all. It could be a case of "white privilege" clouding the judgment as many Marvel die-hards overcompensated by praising the show. Right now it sits at one of the biggest critic-fan ratings disagreements not too unlike a certain DC super flop last year. But the casting choice is just one of many other shortcomings:
Been There, Done That: it may have been a case of viewer fatigue or just getting the short end of the stick by being the last and fifth overall show Marvel debuted on Netflix. The bar Daredevil and the rest set was a bit steep and Iron Fist fell flat not because it was bad but because it didn't do anything original or eye-catching enough to set itself apart. It could've done more with the mysticism aspect and seemed like perfect timing with Doctor Strange's release four months ago but it didn't quite feature here.
Uninspiring Baddies: Daredevil had Wilson Fisk paralleling his publicly known saviour of Hell's Kitchen persona versus Matt Murdock's secretive devil of Hell's Kitchen character. Jessica Jones' main plot was driven by her archnemesis, Kilgrave. Even Luke Cage's trio of villains, while not as significant as the first two's were colourful and memorable. But in Iron Fist, few of the villains, including the main baddie played by David Wenham, felt like they mattered or where even there at all. The complex dynamic between he and his children was gripping drama but felt tedious at many times.
Beat-up Narrative: the broken up narrative that only seemed to come together in the end was felt in both Daredevil Season 2 and Luke Cage but both those shows had redeeming qualities not in Iron Fist. Daredevil and Jessica Jones had the most cohesive scripts centered mainly around one villain and this couldn't have been possible in Iron Fist where it jammed together several subplots with interesting premises but none big enough to captivate.
It's Kung Fu But Is It Fighting: for a show that's centered around martial arts, it didn't really show too much. It was hard to outdo the choreography and set-pieces from Daredevil season 2 or even season 1 but Iron Fist just felt flat in many occasions feeling more like a glorified sparring session than a battle to the death. Just an example of the film's lack of intensity and momentum. Several of those fighting scenes were also unbelievable. In a bad way.
About that Casting...: Finn Jones wasn't bad. But it felt like a case of the Tobey Maguire as Spider-Man. Jones captured the youthful vigor and idealistic naivete of Danny Rand. He was a great Danny Rand like Maguire was a great Peter Parker. But as the Iron Fist? No bueno. Maybe this is part of Marvel's plans to sell an immature and unpolished "martial artist". But Jones didn't capture the center unlike his three predecessors. It felt more like an ensemble cast and he was often outshined by other characters.
The series started to rev up towards the middle episodes with a few plot twists with one mirroring another from a previous show. Iron Fist had gripping performances from Tom Pelphrey as the abused Ward Meachum who has the mt interesting character arc in the show. The show ends on some cliffhangers and sets up next season to redeem this one. Because it has to. ★★