Films based on Marvel Comics rule the box office – just look at the current Logan. Iron Fist is an ambitious attempt to have the same impact on television – the live-action 13-episode series is available Friday on Netflix. Does it succeed? Based on a viewing of early episodes, not so much. Iron Fist is based on the exploits of Danny Rand (Finn Jones), the young scion of the Rand business empire. He loses his parents when their private plane crashes in the Himalayas. He survives the accident and gets rescued by monks from the alternative dimension of K’un-Lun, where he receives intensive martial arts training, eventually earning the hallowed honor of the Iron Fist, the guardian of the gates of the mystical city, a surprising task for an outsider. The crux of the series takes place upon Danny’s return to New York City, 15 years later.
The series screams about his fantastic abilities as a fighter, and we’re treated to displays of tight combat against multiple assailants that are supposed to justify the idea of Iron Fist as a member of this hardcore group of Defenders (the forthcoming series featuring Rand alongside Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage).
Yet, the six episodes offered for critical preview reveal Danny to be a bland poseur as both a martial artist and a rich orphan. He lacks the brooding intensity of Bruce Wayne’s Dark Knight or the cavalier spirit of Tony Stark’s Iron Man. I suppose the fortune cookie nuggets of wisdom he dispenses are meant to grant some degree of Zen-like insight, but unfortunately he sound like a guy who spent far too much time reading bestselling self-help platitudes on the misty mountaintop when he should have been getting ready for life on the mean streets.
As a Marvel/Netflix completest, I’m willing to check back in with Iron Fist, once the rest of the episodes are available for viewing, to see if the streets teach him the lessons to make him the real deal, although he better prove to be a quick study. Grade: C-