Welcome to the second installment of the #NotMyIronFist blog series! Where I angrily rant about my deep disappointment with everything about this failed attempt at a Marvel TV series.
Today we are going to talk about the complete lack of direction in The Iron Fist, specifically the severe lack of a real villain/threat.
As always, watch out for spoilers!
When Danny Rand appears back in NYC he describes himself as “The Iron Fist, sworn enemy of The Hand.” Establishing early on that the main threat of the series, as it has been in past Marvel series, is The Hand. Makes sense, right? After all, the main point of all this is to tie it together into one Defenders series, so why not use the same villain? Too bad the only agenda The Hand had throughout the entire Iron Fist series was drug trafficking and money laundering. Oooh! Terrifying! At least in Daredevil the drug trafficking was a front for the real threat of a mystical living weapon, The Black Sky. That at least made The Hand seem menacing. I mean we lost what? Like 3-4 episodes on Danny chasing down The Hand’s heroine sales plot and revenge stalking Madam Gao, for what? Because Danny wants to keep kids off drugs and has PTSD about his parent’s death? Yawn! I have to say, it was around this point in the series where I started to loose all interest. What good is a hero without a menacing villain?
Even the big reveal of the new faction of The Hand was a let down. I was really hoping that Bakuto would prove to be the menacing villain we have all been waiting for, but he turned out to be just another greedy cult leader. I wonder if Scientology was part of his training?
I will say that Colleen’s big reveal as a recruiter for The Hand was somewhat interesting. I just wish they had taken it further. I couldn’t have been the only one hoping she would be the one to kill Bakuto. Although, having Davos step in to finish the job was one of the high points of the series for me.
Maybe we will get a more menacing version of The Hand in The Defenders. With Bakutobeing awal and no real explanation as to what the whole science experiment blood lab setup was about, there is an open door for some deep dark plot reveals. Hopefully, they will come to fruition.
So, if The Hand wasn’t a real threat, who else was left? The Meachums? Really? Let’s start with Ward Meachum, corporate golden son. We start with flashbacks of Ward being a dick to Danny when they were kids and attempting to keep Danny from his rightful stock in Rand, but it isn’t until Ward loses it and kills his father (Harold Meachum) that we see the potential for true villainy. The murder scene was one of the few scenes I actually enjoyed. The best villains are ones you sympathize with on some level and by this point in the series I was starting to feel for Ward and the abuse he was dealing with at the hand of his father. Although the events were terribly predictable, it was still a pretty good plot twist, but like everything else, the writers found a way to fuck it all up. I really wanted Ward to go full on villain and lose all sense of decency. Maybe start having executives killed off one by one, regain control of Rand and take on The Hand on his own, all the while demanding Danny’s blood be spilled in the street. Instead Ward falls into psychosis and develops a debilitating drug problem.
Then, in the only real surprise plot twist of the entire series, Harold Meachum rises from the dead. Does Ward grow some balls and take his father down? No! He embraces his father’s resurrection and ends up falling for the very trap he laid for Danny in the beginning of the series, landing him in the asylum under surveillance. THEN! He goes crawling to The Hand and makes what is probably the dumbest deal in TV history to get released and even when met with the option to kill his father (like for really realz) he still fucks it up! Seriously, why did nobody kill this character off after Harold’s resurrection? He really serves no purpose and is one of the most incompetent characters in the series.
As we reach the end of Series 1 we realize that Harold Meachum has been the main villain all along. From plotting with The Hand to have Danny’s parents killed, to laundering drug money through his corporate store front and even manipulating and imprisoning his own son. Harold Meachum is bad news bears, but he still doesn’t bring the villainy. Let’s put aside the fact that he can basically resurrect himself at will due to whatever crazy cocktail he was given by The Hand.
In the end he is just a power hungry executive, willing to manipulate everyone around him to gain power. He spends 99% of the series on The Hand’s tight leash, locked away in his golden tower. It took a small army, including Danny, Colleen and Davos to even get him out from under The Hand’s thumb and even then, other than a violent return to corporate power, what threat did he deliver? He had no real fighting skills (despite his ability to kick Danny’s ass multiple times, please see Part 1 for why that’s predictable), no super strength, no real bloodlust. Even his death at the end of Series 1 was lackluster with Danny getting lucky with some strategically placed building structures.
I have no doubt that The Hand will return as the main menace in The Defenders, as the series closed with Danny attempting to return Kun-Lun only to find it destroyed by The Hand. Hopefully, the next iteration poses more of a mythical threat. I just don’t care enough about drug trafficking and corporate greed to warrant heroism. Although, a lack luster hero deserves lack luster villains.
Give me a villain who wants to bend the world to their will and is willing to kill anyone in their path. Give me a lust for a power greater than money. Maybe bring back Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk and show what a terrifying villain really looks like.