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Mid-Season Review: Netflix’s “Iron Fist” [1/3] – The Hell Did They Do to Danny?!??

What’s A Geek welcomes guest contributors who are game to discuss geek topics. Our writer this week goes into his initial impressions of Netflix’s newest contribution to the Marvel Universe – “Iron Fist“.

This article is part one of a series.

Warning: Spoilers for the first half of the series. If you haven’t seen it, you might want to skip this part.

Even without finishing episodes 8-13 of Netflix’s “Iron Fist“, I can reasonably say that it is, in fact, the “MCU Thor” of the Netflix Marvel Series.

Those who know me, know that when I liken anything to the MCU Thor films, it’s never in a good light. Netflix’s take on Iron Fist, insofar as the first 7 episodes, fails in exactly the same regard as I believe MCU Thor did.

First: there’s too much creative liberality. They fanfic’ed the hell out of an existing mythos at the cost of the story’s core essence.

Second: there’s a clear aversion to adapt key elements throughout several decades of source publication material. I like to call this a case of the “Nolan Realism Syndrome”. You may also know this as an attitude of “This is too ‘comic-y’ to fly in live action”.

Issues in the creatives and production department should also be acknowledged. There is as well, a distinct problem in Netflix’s Marvel productions which is painfully obvious with this newest show.

Netflix, Fix Your Pacing (Get Your Shit Together)

Marvel Netflix has had a growing pacing problem since the release of Daredevil Season 1. This is more notably seen in A.K.A. Jessica Jones, Daredevil Season 2, and then again in Luke Cage. Comparatively speaking, Iron Fist’s predecessors fared better. The problem was there, but at least they weren’t a total mess.

Rush work in filming and production, if only to meet the deadline release of Netflix’s Defenders crossover, has only served to shine a light on that pacing issue. Bad cutting, bad shots, and unrehearsed fight choreography undeniably shows. It’s like they couldn’t be bothered to consider reshoots.

It’s severely disappointing.

As such, the above-mentioned factors have led to so much backlash, when Iron Fist is, in fact, one of the most well-written, well re-envisioned, lore-heavy characters of the Marvel Comic Universe.

Look up Fraction, Brubaker, and Aja’s Immortal Iron Fist. Check out how their work was later taken over and expounded on by Swiercznyski.

The Immortal Iron Fist ran from 2006 to 2009. That’s no small feat, considering Fraction and Brubaker’s efforts reframed and synthesized a character that goes back to the 70s. It’s also a great place to start for younger/later readers, who can jump back into earlier publications from America’s Kung Fu Craze; or to go further into later stories.

Disappointment, Thy Name is Scott Buck

Netflix adaptation veers pretty far from the source material, so much that the essence of Danny Rand’s character ends up muddled. Scott Buck (of Dexter fame) turned Danny Rand into a semi-amnesiac hobo claiming to be the martial champion of a Heavenly City.

netflix iron fist
Behold! The Heavenly Champion of K’un-Lun!

This is where I’ll cite that bad case of “Nolan Realism Syndrome” and Buck’s own writer kink of contrived slow reveal.

Aside from a baseless disavowing of comic lore due to a lack of imagination, that’s probably the only reason we have the amnesiac angle to begin with.

Buck (who evidently does not seem to have read a single bit of Iron Fist lore) opted to discard existing material rich with several decades’ worth of Marvel writers’ efforts.

He seems to think that comics are just too campy. He’s also said that some concepts cannot be translated on-screen.

There was no good reason we could imagine to put Danny Rand in a costume. Because Danny Rand is still discovering who he is as a hero and where he is going to be, so he’s not yet ready to put on a mask or a costume. … At the same time he is someone who is rather well known as a billionaire, so he can’t necessarily go out in public and do the things he does without being recognized. It does become an issue for the character.

No good reason? I’ll go into the absurdity of this statement at a later date.

Good God. He’s doing a Bendis.

I personally think it isn’t farfetched to presume that Scott Buck opened up a Wikipedia page, noted the summaries and character names as found on said Wiki page, before writing out his very own fanfic of a “gaijin wuxia guy coming home from an extra-dimensional city”.

This is also the only explanation I can think of as to why Colleen Wing turned out the way she did. I’m on the other, unpopular side of the fence where I actually dislike Colleen’s adaptation. Like Danny, she’s so watered down; another Level 99 character Scott Buck turned into some Level 10 Schmuck.

netflix iron fist
I wanted Colleen Wing. Not someone relegated to sexual tension and possible romance angle.

I’m not impressed by the cage match. Nor am I pleased to see her turned into a McDojo Karate Teacher. She’s playing second fiddle to an already unimpressive titular character.

Now, for those like me who’ve found themselves disappointed with Netflix’s poor adaptation of Marvel’s Greatest Martial Artist; I provide (mostly out of boredom – and yes, disappointment) some thoughts on how I would’ve executed the series:

1. No badly executed, semi-amnesiac angle, please.

2. Embrace the comic mythos completely. Adapt it in a manner which is friendly to both old readers and new viewers alike.

3. Actually keep the core of the stories and character intact (Read: Don’t Do A Bendis) and respect decades of hard work from other writers.

Up next! Nate breaks down how Netflix could have made the series work. Got something you want to say about Iron Fist? Leave us a comment or tweet us at @whatsageek!

Nate Pico

Occasional Contributor. Also known as "Galaktor, the Barbequer of Worlds", a.k.a. (Not so) Blind Justice, a.k.a (I wish I was) the Captain. In a perfect world, he would've found a Cosmic Cube or the Miracle Machine and proceeded to procrastinate between a Messiah Complex and shenanigans. All around geek and lover of all things speculative, fiction or otherwise.

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