Netflix’s Iron Fist is the fifth season of Netflix’s Defenders arc that concludes later this year. Put simply it is the weakest of the four series, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t good. Spoilers ahead.
To start with, this is not the Iron Fist you know. This is Danny Rand before the costume. A naive man who has spent fifteen years in a monastery completely out of touch with the outside world. His lack of understanding of the world leaves him vulnerable to manipulation and unable to come to terms with his own abilities. He is portrayed as a confused child who still needs to learn about himself and others. Where Matt Murdoch, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage all understand how the world can be manipulated and fight against it, Danny Rand is a victim of all of it for the first time.
The story also suffers from convoluted antagonists who switch sides on a whim. The Meachems are cartoons rather than fleshed out characters. The twists and turns seem to have more to do with Netflix wanting to stretch the story to 13 episodes than from any story-based reasoning. Even simple things are stretched out. When the Meachems and Danny are removed from the company by the Board of Directors, all sorts of convoluted ideas are explored in order for them to get the company back, despite it being shown earlier in the series that Danny controls 51% of the company and all he has to do is overuse the board.
The other major problem is the problem of tying in to the other Marvel series. Rosario Dawson’s Claire Temple has been the Netflix series’ version of Samuel L. Jackson in the Marvel movies. She has appeared in each one, tying them all together. She has been an integral part of both Daredevil’s and Luke Cage’s efforts. So when she continually tells Danny that he can’t fight the Hand on his own, one has to wonder why she doesn’t introduce him to Matt Murdock. Especially since the plot and story spin straight out of Daredevil.
The show is also formulaic. Like Daredevil and Luke Cage before him, Danny is framed before proving his innocence. His past has been manipulated like Stick did to Daredevil. Like the others, he lost his parents as a child. Despite these problems, Iron Fist is enjoyable. While it is the weakest of the four shows, when taken together as a five season arc (so far) it moves the story forward. More importantly than even the introduction of Iron Fist and Coleen Wing, the show unveils more of the scope of The Hand, showing why it will take the combined force of The Defenders in order to stop it.