Iron Fist is the next highly-anticipated Marvel Netflix series... or at least it was. After the first batch of official Iron Fist reviews have come in, it seems that critics are of a general consensus: Iron Fist isn't that good of a show - at least not the six episodes that were previewed for press.
After Daredevil blew open the door for what Marvel could do on Netflix, Jessica Jones followed up with an acclaimed run, and Luke Cage made a bigger impact than anyone ever expected. This year, Marvel and Netflix have the big Defenders crossover miniseries with all four heroes (Daredevil, Jones, Cage, and Iron Fist) - and event that Iron Fist was supposed lead into.
So, Will Iron Fist end the Marvel/Netflix streak? And what would that failure mean for The Defenders?
The immediate issue about these Iron Fist bad reviews is that they seem to focus on one crucial flaw that could really hurt both the series and The Defenders crossover, as well. Word is that the character of Danny Rand simply isn't that well drawn.
Already, articles are popping up comparing the Marvel Cinematic Universe Danny Rand to some kind of annoying man-child, who paradoxically fights like a martial arts master, and has weird episodes of PTSD. It's a character that's supposed to be as rich and complex as his Marvel Netflix counterparts, but it seems that he just doesn't connect well with viewers.
There doesn't seem to be much criticism about actor Finn Jones, so there is definitely room for the Danny Rand character to grow and develop into something fans and viewers are more comfortable with. However, if viewers don't latch onto the Iron Fist character, that will be a major problem when it comes to pulling them through the final seven episodes of the series - which supposedly contain a lot of lead-ins to The Defenders.
The ramifications could also extend further, when it comes to the question of another season of Iron Fist, that Heroes for Hire team-up people want, etc...
Of course, The Defenders could further hurt (or perhaps redeem) the character of Danny Rand/Iron Fist, if his solo series doesn't do a great job of selling him.
On the one hand, having Danny in the Defenders team dynamic with other characters that have already earned fan respect and admiration may help push him over the hump (especially in smaller doses). On the other hand: The Defenders had been in production for awhile before this negative feedback about Iron Fist started surfacing, so character flaws in Danny Rand may not get corrected in that show, at all, and it could be a case of Danny dragging down the charisma of the other three leads.
While we're unsure of the official storyline for The Defenders, it's been implied that Danny's backstory and status as The Iron Fist will be crucial to the plotline. In fact, Danny could be the de facto character that leads them into the dark world of The Hand. That's a lot of weight to carry.
The Back 7
It of course must be maintained that these reviews of Iron Fist are only based on the first six episodes of the thirteen-episode show. We currently have no idea what's going to happen in the back seven episodes - but as previous Marvel Netflix shows have demonstrated, there can be a very drastic turn that happens around midpoint in a season.
With that in mind, it's fair to say that Marvel's Netflix series have built enough good will with fans to give Iron Fist an overall benefit of the doubt. No one has said that the initial arc of the show is horrible - just that it's slow, and a bit scattered in focus when it comes to both character and story arcs. Episode six (directed by RZA) has a standout fight moment that suggests bigger things to come - and hopefully, those bigger things are also better things, which strengthen the character (if nothing else) and help position things better for The Defenders.
...Because in the end, it sounds like dedication to the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe may be the greatest motivator for getting viewers through Iron Fist's rough start and hopefully to the richer experience of the final 7 episodes.