I'm a big fan of Iron Fist and I'm going to make the very hipster-esque quote of the fact I was a fan of Iron Fist before he was cool. I may have only read him in The Essential Iron Fist but it's not like there's actually much of a character between his Heroes for Hire days to when Ed Brubaker re-imagined him for an extremely good tournament arc. Who is Iron Fist? Iron Fist is basically Batman Begins Batman or Arrowverse Green Arrow with the benefit of actually possessing superpowers. He's the extraordinarily rich kid who ends up learning the martial arts in a foreign land who goes back to take the fight to the streets.
Before I get to the actual story, I feel the need to address the fact Iron Fist gets under certain people's skin. I'm usually on the side of the Far Left progressives in comics who promote diversity and a more rainbow colored world in comics because, gosh darn it, that's reality. However, the fact Danny Rand is a rich white guy who learns the secrets of an Asian culture than returns to beat up criminals is something which really ticks a lot of people off who use words like cultural appropriation, the Mighty Whitey, and so on.
|This should happen all the time.|
People look at Danny and see the rich white guy but he's a guy who barely remembers New York and grew up in Kun'lun. There's a subtle dig at appearances and assumptions if you write the character correctly. He's not the world's best martial artist (aside from Shang Chi) because he's white and does it better, he's the world's best martial artist because he moved to the land before adopting its ways. He also isn't as good as Lei Kun the Thunderer who taught him either--it's just he's the guy who trains the Iron Fists versus being the Iron Fist.
|I knew who Colleen Wing was before the show.|
Okay, having spent way too much time talking about this subject, I should mention Iron Fist the television show isn't very good. It's not terrible and I actually have enjoyed it more than Luke Cage (blasphemy) but there's a lot of places where it was clear they didn't quite have a handle on who Danny Rand is as a character. It's also clear they struggled with the fact Iron Fist is a lighthearted Pulp adventure with fantasy martial arts, dragons, mythical cities, and good vs. evil when they've been doing gritty street level stories for three series. The fact Danny barely uses his magical fist is a minor but pointed complaint people had about the show but underscores the larger problem.
|The corporate plots in this show go nowhere.|
The story is, bluntly, all over the place. Danny Rand states he's uninterested in money, which he demonstrably is. He likes giving it to his friends but would be satisfied sitting on a mat in a dirty apartment. So, there's no real reason why he wants his company back. He acts like a crazy person and can't prove he's Danny Rand but he could easily prove he has superpowers. Also, while they give reasons why he couldn't have a DNA test or fingerprints, they forgot he'd had dental records. Also, they could exhume the bodies of other relatives for a DNA test. Ward and Joy are alternatively supporting or condemning Danny so the entire corporate plot is poorly written.
|I love the homage to her comic outfit.|
It also hurts they try to make Danny into a moron. Danny constantly makes poor impulsive decisions which his training would have required him to overcome. The character is played as an immature youth despite the fact the character is thirty while also having spent his life as a monk. Much of the plot depends on Danny not sitting down to explain his situation or show his powers. There's also a few moments of inexplicable rage from Danny which feel out of place with his otherwise Zen attitude. I don't think this is Finn Jones' problem and think he's mostly stuck with bad writing.
|Harold Meachum is easily the most entertaining part of the show.|
Jessica Henwick also does a tremendous job with the perpetually likable Colleen Wing. Indeed, you could eliminate the Meachum siblings from the story to increase the role of her and Harold and I think the show would only benefit. Colleen is a likable sensei, Japanese to Danny's Chinese in style, and someone who is struggling with her own desire to beat the crap out of people. I even like their romance, though I think they also could have worked well as friends.
|Finn and Jessica have real chemistry.|
The Hand is probably the best handled part of the show as Madame Gao (Wai Ching Ho) does an excellent job being the archnemesis of Iron Fist and I hope they have her come back after The Defenders. We get a tie between Kun'lun and the Hand as well as get to see how their street operations work. Seeing them work in corporate offices, criminal gangs, and in dojos where they recruit teenagers without hope is a perfect display of Illuminati-level terrorism. Sadly, they don't get to show off their awesome until the end.
In conclusion, Iron Fist is the weakest of the Netflix shows so far because they weren't willing to commit to an over-the-top martial arts show. They wasted much of the season on Danny getting thrown into idiot situations where showing he had superpowers or dental records would have resolved most of the issues. They also portrayed a very competent and intelligent hero in the comics as an immature manchild. I enjoyed the show enough to watch it to the end but it could have been much-much better.