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Oh Iron Fist

Things I have learned, attempting to watch Iron Fist.

  1.  Even Marvel on Netflix can let you down.  Oh Iron Fist.  You were always going to be tricky.  It was always gonna be a tough one.  And you have not risen to the challenge.
  2.  Cultural appropriation IS an issue.  Because there’s a difference between going ‘I went to a mystic far-Eastern heavenly city and learned about kung fu and I’m grateful that they trained me in their ways and hope to be able to honour this gift with my actions, while conceding that Confucianism is oppressive to women and accepting that I’m probably gonna look better in a tux than a kimono’ … and going ‘I went to a heavenly far-Eastern city and now I am the best.  Forever.  Better than the guys who were even born to that shit.  Boom.’
  3. NO REIKI.  Not a thing.  Claire Temple – oh Claire Temple!  How I love, honour and respect you, and how I wish you’d turned to your books on reiki with a cry of ‘Jesus, none of you mention how punching a dragon is a key ingredient to making this work!’  Rather than in a single breath, forsaking your entire grasp of science and meta-analysis.  Especially since you’re happy to go ‘maybe reiki is real’ and in the next breath go ‘but dragons ain’t!’  ‘Cos glowing fists and aliens in the sky: fine.  Dragons: whoa there.  All I yearn for is a consistency of awesome, and to not encourage the notion that reiki cures cancer.
  4. Repeat after me: tai chi forms are an expression of something martial.  It’s no good waving your hands around and going ‘ohhmmm’ if you aren’t also putting your hips into it, aware that this is a form which one day will need to do more than shadow-box.  Especially since you seem to be shadow-boxing a kitten.
  5. The world needs Daughters of the Dragon.  We need it now.  WE DESERVE IT.  We deserve, having sat through this crap, Coleen Wing and Misty Knight teaming up and being awesome.  We need two kick-ass women joining forces with a cry of ‘nah, dude.  That’s just a really stupid plan’.  Maybe Jessica Jones can drop by too, and the quota of ‘face, care?’ blistering excellence will just explode through the roof.
  6. The Hand.  Turns out that all the effort you put into making this organization totally awesome, can indeed be undone in a single series of them being utter nincompoops.
  7. NO REIKI!
  8. A lack of curiosity can get you hurt.  “What’s that you say, Madame Gao?  There’s a devil in Hell’s Kitchen, a man with bullet-proof skin and a woman who’s great at controlled falling?  Just… wait right there, I’ll be right back in…”  … well, later in 2017, as it turns out.  I just wish it had been sooner.  That said, this is a problem all Marvel franchises have ever.  Because, apart from in X-Men, where circumstances never seem quite groovy, I challenge you to name a problem that the universe has ever faced, which can’t be fixed by Magento and Xavier.  Ultron’s robot army?  Check.  Hoards of ninja assassins?  No problem at all.  Massive Hydra conspiracy at the heart of Shield?  Just let me put on my frowny face and I’ll be right with you….
  9. Good kung-fu doesn’t look very interesting.  Arguably the first time we see Danny, taking down some security guys, is good kung-fu.  It’s tight, quick and controlled.  After that it gets all spinny mcspinny face, and we all wonder if Strictly Come Dancing is on instead.
  10. NO REIKI!!
  11. In an odd way, there is plot.  There’s actually potentially character development.  Look at Joy Meachum… she’s perpetually teetering on the verge of the dark side, swaying back towards the light, being buffetted and tremendously patronised (though not as much as Coleen Wing, who’s only real character flaw is her willingness to engage with a twat), and if the writing was one iota better, she’d have a whole growing/compromising/development thing going down.  Unfortunately the writing is bad.  For which we all lament.
  12. Childish twat-faces.  Technically speaking, choosing to write Danny Rand as a childish twat-face is not a bad choice.  I can see how it was pitched in the meeting.  A naive young man, who’s been cut off from the world for 15 years, struggles naively to re-engage with a reality he doesn’t understand, while discovering truths that he didn’t expect and realising that he’s all conflicted with his duty, sense of identity and where in the world he belongs.   Alas, once again, this is let down by the words.  Because there’s a difference between going ‘I’m sorry Joy, I know you’re trying to help me, and though morally I feel obligated to take this stand I understand how compromising this might be for you and hope to learn from your expertise, because I’m a monk trained in humility, humanity and the scholastic tradition’ or going ‘nah, screw you and your plan which I didn’t even bother to listen to, I’m the Iron Fist, I’m the best BOOM!  Lemme say BOOM!’  If they’d gone down the route of a guy who’s actually BEEN IN A MONASTERY for 15 years and can a) meditate without flashbacks b) inhale in more than gasps c) move his hips and d) has nailed the whole monastic humility thing which wearing robes is a big part of… maybe we’d be onto something.  Instead they gave us a 10-year-old who’s just discovered thumb torches.
  13. ‘But I don’t want to go to Transylvania!’  Come on guys.  Hands up how many people quietly have been singing that to themselves, every time the bad bad guy saunters on screen?
  14. NO BLOODY REIKI!  Claire!  Come on!
  15. Grief.  So Bruce Wayn… I mean, Danny Rand’s parents died in traumatic circumstances.  This is a terrible thing.  But, forgive my callousness, he’s had 15 years.  Literally with monks.  Literally people who have dedicated their lives to spiritual development and inner peace.  My Dad died 5 years ago, and I still feel pain and grief whenever I talk about it, and still find it hard to express certain things about the past.  But channeling that into punching people, 15 years later?  Using THAT as your character motivation?  As the thing that gives you emotional depth?  No.  Guys: no.  Grief is more than that, and infinitely not that thing.
  16. “How are you feeling?”  “I feel sad.”  “Do you feel sad about the ninjas?”  “Yes, I feel sad about the ninjas.”  If only TV was a visual medium.  If only dialogue allowed you to leave these things fluently unsaid, almost as if the audience could work out for themselves what you were feeling, rather than having it spelt out… all… the… time….
  17. China looks a lot like North America, doesn’t it?
  18. Iron Fist is infinitely easier to watch in a language you don’t speak.  Recently we watched a bit of it while on holiday, as an end-of-a-long-day ambling thing, just before bed.  First we watched it in Spanish, but they made the women sound all sorta… nice.  Like they weren’t going ‘screw that plan!’ with their common sense.  Then we watched it in German, which was better, because everyone really did sound like they were irritated with the stupidness of it all.  Coming home, we pulled off another episode, in French, because having come this far we were a bit like ‘gotta… get… to the end oh God it hurts…’ and because Coleen Wing and Claire Temple were in it.  French is alright, and though the women don’t sound quite as exasperated as they did in German, they’re still distinctly surprised at the daftness of what’s going on around them, and so are we all.  Oh very much so…

Bring on Defenders!