Iron Fist is the first of Marvel's Netflix offerings not to be met with at least a measure of critical praise. In fact, the first season currently ranks as the lowest rated show on Netflix, clocking in at a measly 18 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. That's a stark contrast to Daredevil's 88 percent. The narrative has been described as snail-paced and frustrating, with little payoff per episode. Fans criticized the lack of: a cohesive script, a likeable Danny Rand, properly choreographed fight scenes and an appealing premise. Critics mourned the general loss of direction and misguided writing.
Although much of the criticism is warranted, the arcs presented throughout Season 1 were actually on point. Danny Rand might not have been a "whiny brat" in the comics, but the Netflix show portrayed his journey, and journeys typically have beginnings that are far from rose-tinted. Nobody ever starts out responsible, mature, or sensible -- these traits are picked up over the natural, continuous passage of time as people make mistakes, learn from their mistakes and ultimately grow in character. And that was Danny Rand in Season 1. He was a work-in-progress. Like a child, or a worker fresh out of college, he was meant to start inexperienced and develop as both Danny and the Iron Fist as the story progressed.
How Has Danny Rand Grown Throughout And Since Season 1?
Characters rarely begin a journey fully fleshed-out. It is a mark of good storytelling to show a trajectory and clearly distinguish the start of a narrative from its eventual ending. This is exactly what was done for Danny Rand in Season 1, all the way into Defenders, Luke Cage and now Iron Fist Season 2. The writers deliberately portrayed Danny as childish and incompetent to set him apart from the hero he eventually becomes. Without this difference, his journey would have been dry and pointless, as Danny would have stayed the same throughout.
In fact, the cast and crew behind Netflix's Iron Fist performed the job so well, fans actually despised Danny enough to send actor Finn Jones hate comments -- and then grow to love him as the character matured. Jones's Defenders stint was met with great adulation, and his one time in Luke Cage was widely praised. Why?
Like any child gradually moving on into adulthood, Danny's journey is beset with growing pains. He started his Netflix career wide-eyed and idealistic, almost universally believing in the goodness in people's hearts. Trusting to a fault, Danny failed to see through Harold Meachum's deception and Bakuto's lies, making the eventual fallout 10 times worse than it would have been for another hero.
In similar fashion, Danny falsely assumed everyone in life was kind and accepting, but the world doesn't work that way. It can be cruel and unjust, and the reality hits Danny hard. All this allowed for easy manipulation, which his enemies quickly took advantage of.
Danny wasn't always the best at his job either, which is to say at close combat fighting and Chinese martial arts. Not counting the fact that Finn Jones only had four months to train before Season 1, he was a rookie Iron Fist and began his story barely even knowing the concept of chi -- or, you know, how to light his hand up. Like his spirit, his form was awkward and flimsy, implying a holistic imbalance that was reflected in his every decision, reaction and fight scene.