SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Marvel’s The Defenders, debuting on Netflix August 18.
The Defenders faces some tall tasks, from juggling its four central heroes to sticking the landing on a story Marvel’s Netflix dramas have been building toward for two years. However, none seems quite so insurmountable as the redemption of Danny Rand.
While Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage were overwhelmingly well-received, Iron Fist was weighed down by controversy before production even began, drawing criticism for its “white savior” premise — Danny is a Caucasian orphan who becomes the greatest martial artist of a mystical city in China — with producers pressured to cast an Asian actor in the title role. When the series arrived in March, with Game of Thrones alum Finn Jones as its kung-fu hero, it did little to prove detractors wrong.
But the problem with Iron Fist wasn’t merely that its lead character is a billionaire white guy with a super-punch, although those traits surely did little to endear him to a portion of the audience. What earned the first season a dismal 17 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes was a meandering story, disappointing fight sequences and, perhaps most damning, an unlikable protagonist.
It’s perhaps too much to expect that The Defenders can make up for all of the shortcomings of Iron Fist and somehow “reboot” Danny Rand. However, the miniseries does have an opportunity to reintroduce the character in a different setting, and perhaps to help course-correct ahead of the recently announced second season. But what was wrong with the first season of Iron Fist?
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- A Poorly Defined Protagonist
- Poorly Executed Flashbacks
- Poorly Defined Antagonists
- Disappointing Fight Scenes
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