Iron Fist trailer

Photo via Marvel

Iron Fist is Netflix’s first Marvel misfire

Here's everything you need to know about Netflix's 'Iron Fist'—and why critics are skeptical.


Gavia Baker-Whitelaw

Internet Culture

Posted on Feb 6, 2017   Updated on May 25, 2021, 1:42 am CDT

Iron Fist is the latest Marvel/Netflix series, a martial arts thriller about a billionaire businessman who lives a double life as the superhero Iron Fist.

Adapted from the Marvel Comics character, Danny Rand is the heir to a massive business empire in New York. He went missing as a child and spent the next 15 years in the mystical city of K’un Lun, where he became a master of kung-fu and gains the power of Iron Fist—the ability to concentrate his chi into his fist.

In a new featurette, actor Finn Jones introduces Danny’s journey from Buddhist monk to eccentric billionaire.

The Netflix series begins with Danny returning to New York to reclaim the family business, but he’s torn between following his family’s legacy and fighting crime as Iron Fist.

Iron Fist cast

Finn Jones (Game of Thrones‘ Loras Tyrell) stars as Danny Rand/Iron Fist, with Jessica Henwick (Game of Thrones‘ Nymeria Sand) as Colleen Wing, another character from Marvel’s “street-level” Hell’s Kitchen superhero comics, rewritten for Netflix as the owner of a local martial arts dojo. Rosario Dawson reprises her recurring Marvel role as Claire Temple, and Carrie-Anne Moss will return in a guest role as the lawyer Jeri Hogarth from Jessica Jones.

Jones’s casting hasn’t been without controversy. Many Iron Fist fans asked Marvel to cast an Asian American actor in the role of Danny Rand to steer the show away from outdated and offensive “white savior” tropes. (Plenty of other Marvel fans argued Danny should remain a white man to stay true to the comics.) Jones has been opening about discussing the issue of representation with fans, though things came to a head in early March when Jones briefly quit Twitter after some fans criticized his choice to take the role.

You can see Wing in action in this clip from a brutal cage fight scene.

Iron Fist‘s main antagonists are the Meachum family. David Wenham (Lord of the Rings‘ Faramir) plays the patriarch Harold Meachum, a businessman who was friends with Danny Rand’s parents before they died. Jessica Stroup and Tom Pelphrey star as his children Joy and Ward Meachum, Danny’s childhood acquaintances. Lewis Tan plays Zhou Cheng, an assassin who is tasked with killing Iron Fist.

Iron Fist trailer

Iron Fist‘s first teaser gives a brief glimpse of Danny Rand’s backstory.

The full-length trailer released Feb. 7 sees Danny Rand return to New York after years in K’un Lun, showing off his martial arts prowess and a glimpse of the mighty power of Iron Fist. Look out for a cameo from the recurring Daredevil villain Madame Gao.

Iron Fist reviews 

Iron Fist‘s early reviews were overwhelmingly negative, criticizing the show for its slow pace, mediocre action scenes, and weak characterization.

Polygon described the show as “laughably bad,” criticizing it for “really basic screenwriting problems” including a failure to provide coherent motivations for the lead characters. Variety called it “frustrating and ferociously boring,” while the Verge’s review focused on Danny Rand’s blandness compared to Marvel’s other Netflix superheroes, describing Finn Jones as “miscast.” Each of these reviews also highlighted the story’s racist undertones, confirming the fears of Iron Fist’s earlier critics. As our own review discussed, the show’s main highlight is Jessica Henwick as Colleen Wing, a much more compelling character than Iron Fist himself.

The consensus is that by turning Iron Fist into a corporate drama, the show removed everything that made the character entertaining in the first place. Namely, his status as a martial arts hero, and his dorky sense of fun.


Iron Fist and the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Iron Fist will join Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Daredevil for a Defenders team miniseries later this year, with Sigourney Weaver as the mysterious new villain known as Alexandra. Fans are speculating about whether Danny Rand will hook up with Luke Cage‘s Misty Knight (Simone Missick) like in the comics, but we’re unlikely to know more until after Iron Fist has aired.

Iron Fist release date

All 13 episodes will be released on Netflix on March 17, 2017.

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*First Published: Feb 6, 2017, 7:00 am CST