I am a Marvel fan, and a Netflix Subscriber. So, when they announced Daredevil as a TV series a few years back, I was excited. Watching the series was no let down. It was fast paced, well cast and had a great story. Riding this success came Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and now, Iron Fist. Three reasonably well known heroes in the comic world, (possibly four – I never really heard of Jessica Jones early story, so if I am misrepresenting her, I apologise) brought together to form the Defenders series given the popularity of the Avengers. Iron Fist came out on Friday, so for me, Friday was Iron Fist day.
I enjoyed the series, and according to Meta-Critic User reviews, and Rotten Tomato Audience reviews, so did the general viewing audience.
Critics slammed it, citing problems with the acting (Hammy), Lack of originality, pacing, and a few just said they didn’t like it. I am not going to attack them.
You can make your own decision by watching the series and reading the criticism on the Iron Fist Metacritic Page.
I am going to examine some of it, and there is a purpose to this – bear with it.
Critics said it was unoriginal.
I suspect the rich kid, presumed dead and taken in by monks/learning a deadly skill and having an obligation sounded quite familiar. It is the basic plot of Batman, Green Arrow and Iron Fist. All orphaned. All declared/presumed dead. All super-rich. All returning with deadly skills. The statement that Iron Fist is unoriginal is factual. But it ignores context. Iron Fist, and all of the others are Comic Book characters created in a time when stealing elements of your rival’s work was common place.
For instance, take the Nova Corps and Quasar from Marvel. Put them together and you get something resembling the Green Lantern Corps.
Take Black Panther and Moon Knight from Marvel, put them together and you get something resembling Batman. I could probably find other examples.
Next criticism – it is hammy. Truthfully, I didn’t notice that. But perhaps if your normal fiction doesn’t involve a living weapon, then perhaps it is factual. However, again, it lacks context. It is a comic book character. Hammy is expected, and I personally enjoyed the journey from socially awkward tramp, to socially awkward billionaire to social justice ninja, to the Immortal Iron Fist.
Pacing – The pacing was a bit slow in the early episodes. I have to grant that. They were necessary, to set up the main character’s attitude towards inequity. Having read some critics, who reviewed the show over a week before general release, I learn that they didn’t see the whole thing – just the first six episodes. I thought the first three were slow, but worth it. Maybe critics would be kinder if they saw the whole thing?
Some critics said it managed to stand on its own merit. Some said it didn’t. I will now arrive at my point.
For any writer, feedback and criticism is part of the deal. And if you are supplying feedback you can have as profound an impact on the writer as if they were hit by the Iron Fist at full power (you’re losing more than teeth to that punch…).
As a person feeding back your enjoyment is irrelevant. (I have said before, I will say again). You are feeding back for purpose. You are not reading for pleasure. So, push your bias out the window.
Then, ask yourself (and if needs be, ask the writer), what is this piece trying to accomplish?
I once was asked to feedback on a piece of writing whose title was that of a flesh eating spirit. I read the title and thought, “Supernatural Horror.” When I read the piece, it read like black comedy. I had to ask, “Did you intend that?”
Once you know what the writer’s intent is, you can feedback impartially.
You don’t like sci-fi? That is fine. Your writer is trying to communicate a sense of civilisation falling to dystopia. Are they achieving that?
You don’t like romance? No problem. The writer is trying to communicate that the protagonist is in an abusive relationship, but doesn’t realise it. Are they achieving that?
If start thinking about the purpose of/context of the writing, you can give significantly better feedback than simply writing, “I enjoyed this,”, “You should rewrite this sentence,” or “Word repetition.”
Iron Fist – Purpose to tell the origin story of a Marvel Comic book Character with fidelity to its history, whilst tying it into the extend Marvel Netflix Universe, setting up the Defenders. Didn’t like it? No problem. Did it achieve that?
Everything else is technical, and you can judge on its own merits.
all the best.
Can’t wait for the Defenders.