We're a little over a week away from the premiere of Netflix's "Iron Fist," the final puzzle piece in the march towards Marvel's ensemble miniseries "The Defenders." The streaming network lifted its embargo on Wednesday, and early reviews of the first six episodes are beginning to trickle in -- and it's not sounding too good for the anticipated show.
Where "Daredevil," "Jessica Jones," and "Luke Cage" were rousing successes, the early word on "Iron Fist" is less than favorable. Many reviewers are citing pacing issues, a subpar plot, and underwhelming action sequences. It's important to keep in mind, however, that the reviews reflect the first six episodes of the series, leaving hope that the back-half of the season will rebound from what sounds like a stumble of a start.
Here’s a selection of what the critics are saying about “Iron Fist”:
Kwame Opam, The Verge: "The sad truth, however, is that 'Iron Fist' is the weakest of Marvel’s Netflix series to date. As far as diversity, representation, and appropriation go, the series fails in a number of ways. But, over the course of its first six episodes, it also manages to fall short on basic levels like storytelling. Its creative laziness bankrupts the entire show. Marvel’s new series is a disappointing case study in studios needing to try harder to tell difficult stories well."
Maureen Ryan, Variety: "'Marvel's Iron Fist' is deadly -- in all the wrong ways. Not one element of this plodding piece works. The action scenes lack spark, snap, and originality. None of the flat, by-the-numbers characters makes any lasting impression. And as origin stories go, the tale of Danny Rand (Finn Jones), at least as rendered by this creative team, is about as exciting as a slice of Velveeta cheese left out in the sun too long. 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."
Jim Vejvoda, IGN: "'Iron Fist,' exec produced by Dexter’s Scott Buck, is Marvel’s most generic Netflix series yet. So much of it feels familiar from many other recent superhero tales — Batman Begins, Doctor Strange, even a bit of Iron Man and Arrow — and the story the series has thus far offered in its first six episodes does little to shake up that well-worn formula."
Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter: "Debuting on Netflix on Friday, March 17, 'Iron Fist' feels like a step backward on every level, a major disappointment that already suffers from storytelling issues through the first six episodes made available to critics and would probably be mercifully skippable in its entirety if it weren't the bridge into the long awaited 'Defenders' crossover series."
Allison Keene, Collider: "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."
Susana Polo, Polygon: "Netflix has only provided reviewers with the first six episodes of "Iron Fist"’s 13-episode season, but watching them was baffling experience. After 'Jessica Jones' (a revelation), 'Luke Cage' (flawed but still brilliant) and 'Daredevil' (outshone by the competition but still very solid), I fully expected 'Iron Fist' to be a decent adaptation ultimately hobbled by an unwillingness to stray too far from its dated source material. Instead, I found myself incredulously texting coworkers who also had screener access to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating."
Alan Sepinwall, Uproxx: "The fact that both Danny (Finn Jones) and Colleen (Jessica Henwick) aren’t good at talking should be no sin for the genre. The problem is that 'Iron Fist' is virtually all talk — most of it painfully dull — and the fighting is both brief and unconvincing. It’s easily the worst of the Netflix Marvel shows — where the others tend to start off well and then run into massive pacing problems around episode 8 or 9, 'Iron Fist' begins as if it’s already at that sag point — and an unfortunate illustration of the perils of miscasting."
Luke Lancaster, CNET: "As the last member to join the roster of Netflix's 'Defenders' crossover, 'Iron Fist' felt like the chance to broaden the TV universe's gritty scope with levity and more fantastic elements, especially in a post-'Doctor Strange' world. It comes tantalisingly close to indulging in over-the-top action, but after half a dozen episodes, you're left with the impression that everyone involved is maybe taking a show about a kung fu master who once hugged a dragon to death a little too seriously."
Sam Flynn, HeroicHollywood: Where 'Iron Fist' stumbles is in creating a space for itself. 'Daredevil' impressed with its grit and realism, in contrast to the colorful, broader movies. Jessica Jones and Luke Cage are intensely-personal projects wrapped up in superheroics and earned praise for depicting the first female and black superheroes in the MCU, ahead of movies’ Captain Marvel and Black Panther. What makes Danny Rand aka Iron Fist different? By extension, what is his show about? After watching the first six episodes which were made available for critics, I still don’t know. And I’m not sure if the producers do either.
Mike Cecchini, Den of Geek: "But there’s something missing from 'Iron Fist.' Visually, it’s a little bland for many of these early episodes, often lacking the cinematic pop that made 'Daredevil' or 'Luke Cage' such visual standouts. While every Marvel Netflix series has pacing problems, and many feel like they spread 8-10 episodes worth of story over 13 chapters, it usually takes a few installments before you feel the show begin to spin its wheels. But 'Iron Fist' is a particularly slow starter, and it takes nearly three before you get a sense of why anyone behaves the way they do. Flashbacks are awkwardly placed, characters make baffling decisions, and the general impression is sometimes that the show is filling time."
Arriving March 17 on Netflix, “Iron Fist” stars Finn Jones, Jessica Henwick, David Wenham, Jessica Stroup, Tom Pelphrey and Rosario Dawson.