Marvel missteps with latest superhero series ‘Iron Fist’

Danny Rand (Finn Jones) fends off an attacker (Nikita Bogolyubov).
Photo: Netflix / Courtesy

Two stars

Marvel's Iron Fist Season 1 available March 17 on Netflix.

In a few months, Marvel superheroes Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist will team up for the Netflix series The Defenders. That show’s imminent arrival makes the new Iron Fist solo series especially redundant, a long, dull setup just to put the character in place to join his fellow, more popular Marvel stars. While Marvel’s three previous Netflix shows established distinctive yet overlapping worlds for their title characters, Iron Fist is rote and uninspired, with a bland leading man and a slow, unexciting narrative progression.

The heir to a multibillion-dollar corporation, Danny Rand (Game of Thrones’ Finn Jones) returns to New York City after being presumed dead 15 years earlier in a plane crash with his parents. Instead he has spent the interim in the mystical city of K’un-Lun, learning martial arts and gaining the power to punch with supernatural force. But Danny does disappointingly little punching on a show that spends too much time in corporate offices and conference rooms, as Danny attempts to assert control over his father’s company.

The show’s corporate intrigue is tedious and boring, and Danny’s business rivals are less villainous than greedy and sleazy. The only truly bad guy in the six episodes (of 13 total) available for review is a character imported from Daredevil, who mostly operates in the shadows anyway. Jones can’t make Danny into much of a commanding presence, and he’s constantly upstaged by Jessica Henwick as martial-arts instructor Colleen Wing, Danny’s one ally and a major character from the Iron Fist comic books. Colleen is steely, charismatic and powerful, and she’s easily the show’s best character. In the comics, Colleen joins with Misty Knight (memorably played by Simone Missick on Luke Cage) to form the Daughters of the Dragon. That’s a team-up worthy of its own Netflix series.

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