- Patrick Harbron/Netflix
Netflix’s fourth Marvel series, “Iron Fist,” was arguably the streaming company’s most highly anticipated of the “Defenders” franchise. With such high expectations for the show, critics weighed in with their great disappointment. The reviews for “Iron Fist” were pretty miserable.
As a result, the show received some pretty dismal scores on the review aggregation sites: a score of 36 from Metacritic, which indicates “generally unfavorable reviews,” and a low 19% fresh score by Rotten Tomatoes.
“Iron Fist” follows Danny Rand (Finn Jones), who returns to New York City after having gone missing for 15 years. Believed dead after a plane accident that claimed his wealthy parents’ lives, Danny actually survived and was rescued by a mystical sect of monks. Schooled in kung fu and entrusted with the power of the invincible iron fist, Danny is back to reclaim his family company. But when a dangerous threat arrives, he has to choose between his familial obligations and his duties as the Iron Fist.
In my review of the show for Business Insider, I similarly panned the series’ writing, pacing, and fight scenes, and for not living up to the standards Netflix set with previous Marvel series, “Daredevil,” “Jessica Jones,” and “Luke Cage.”
I wrote, “Plainly stated, “Iron Fist” is boring,” as were its fight scenes.
- Cara Howe/Netflix
But what did other critics say about “Iron Fist”?
Variety critic Maureen Ryan found the show missed the mark in several ways: “It takes forever for anything to happen on ‘Iron Fist,’ and as it stumbles along, the uninspired production design, unexceptional cinematography, and painful dialogue fail to distract the viewer from the overall lack of depth, detail, or momentum.”
The Hollywood Reporter’s Dan Fienberg wasn’t impressed with the show’s star, writing “It’s unclear if Jones’ lack of physical authority is dampening ‘Iron Fist’s’ ability to be an action show or if ‘Iron Fist’s’ lack of interest in being an action show has negated Jones’ ability to display physical authority.”
Collider’s Allison Keene felt the series failed to take advantage of its talent and source material: “Despite a very good cast and a great origin story, ‘Iron Fist’ is predictable, a little hammy, and has no real sense of how to tell a cohesive story. As such, it has a few moments that are great and many that are not.”
Most other reviews echoed these sentiments, but what did reviewers like about the show?
USA Today’s Brian Truitt agreed with my view that Jessica Henwick as Colleen, the principled and badass master of a struggling karate dojo, community leader, and potential love interest for Danny, is a standout new character.
“The British actress ultimately steals the show by bringing modern complexities and watchable gumption to Marvel’s newest dangerous, no-nonsense woman,” Truitt wrote of Henwick.
New York Times critic Mike Hale also felt the superb cast was underserved and reserved some judgment as critics were only given the first six episodes.
“The sad thing, and perhaps the hopeful thing, about the dawdling featurelessness of the early episodes is that you can see a better show struggling to get out. The actors … are better than the material they’re given,” he wrote. “Until we see the full season, we won’t know whether the show manages to focus its chi.”
Viewers can make their own decisions on “Iron Fist,” which is now available to stream on Netflix.
Nathan McAlone contributed to this article.