Stay on target The Cinematic Sex of Marvel’s Netflix UniverseMarvel’s Axed Netflix Shows Could Be Revived by Disney Well, it’s finally happened – The Marvel Cinematic/Television/Streaming Universe has finally produced an installment that simply outright sucks. Not in the Iron Man 2 “Aw, that wasn’t as good as the first one” sense, or a Thor: The Dark World “Well hey, at least Loki is still fun” sense or even a third season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. “Wow, this got boring fast” sense – Iron Fist is a legitimate full-on piece of shit. It is, without exaggeration, one of the worst TV shows I’ve ever had the misfortune to watch; and I watched CSI: Cyber. Even in the superhero pantheon, it would stand out: Perhaps not as bad as Batman V Superman, but absolutely on the failure level of Steel, Catwoman or Suicide Squad.Now let’s make something clear: Iron Fist is a bad show from the skin all the way down to the core, and it still would’ve been a bad show no matter who they got to play Danny Rand. There’s a lot of controversy over that point because the original 70s comics incarnation of Iron Fist was one of those Orientalist appropriation narratives (think Remo Williams. Or for that matter, Doctor Strange) largely grounded in a fantasy version of Asian kung-fu mysticism where the hero is a white American who turns out to be “better” at being Asian than the Asians. That sort of thing “sticks out” a lot more these days, and many have opined that changing up the casting might make that less uncomfortable. But make no mistake: Even if making Danny not look exactly like an “enlightened” poseur who wandered over from a froyo stand might make it slightly less cringeworthy when he starts in about “Respecting the DOJO!” or lecturing strangers with Buddhist aphorisms… well, everything else would still be bad.Amusingly, the main reason that Danny Rand being a White kid who inherits the mystical protector mantle of K’un-Lun (for the uninitiated: Shangri-La, basically) was ever remotely important was that it made him an outsider in the world he was tasked to protect. But here, stymied by Marvel TV’s famous cheapness – so tightly-budgeted that they usually can’t afford to have both stuntmen and interior lighting in the same scene. We spend almost no time in K’un-Lun other than some quickie flashbacks, and none of it gives us any actual sense of the place (we see a matte shot exterior, a single generic room, and a random forest stream) that whole thread of the character is completely nonexistent.Also not showing up: The Iron Fist costume (a predecessor wears it, briefly, in a hazy flashback), the dragon, pretty much all of the weird mystical kung-fu business that might actually have been worth making a 13 episode TV show about. And don’t expect them to be “saving” any of that potentially-cool material for another season: The final episode manages to end on the biggest raised middle-finger “fuck you!” to audience optimism I may have ever seen on a mainstream TV show – and not in a good way.Instead, Iron Fist starts up with Danny coming back to New York after having been presumed dead for 15 years and spends the majority of its runtime on an incredibly tedious storyline about trying to regain control of his family company. This requires a bevy of supporting characters and a ridiculously convoluted conspiracy narrative that is simply impossible to care about. It ultimately adds nothing of value to the story outside of a rambling subplot about David Wenham faking his death with zombie-magic that (amazingly!) could’ve been excised with almost no effect on the rest of it whatsoever.And yet somehow, all that remains slightly more watchable than when things switch over to Danny’s apparent “real” nemesis: The Hand; who are somehow just as uninteresting here as they were in the last season of Daredevil. That Marvel Netflix has actually managed to make the words “Magical Ninja Death-Cult” the single most boring thing in their entire universe is so incredible I’m almost impressed.Not that it’s possible to care about anything when the entire show is constructed around a series of “reveals” that aren’t worth revealing. Now, look – having a villain whose identity and goals are a mystery is intriguing. Having a hero, we don’t know the whole story of can be even more intriguing. Starting out a show with next to no indication of what it’s actually about or who anyone actually is can be fun… for a little while. But IRON FIST tries to do all three in the same show, so there’s never anything to care about or a fixed point to center on until the fucking season is almost over – and even then, not ONE of these mysteries is compelling enough to have kept a secret.And no, the fight scenes do not make up for it. There’s one sequence that rises above being merely passable, and even then it’s just an extended reference – an opportunity for the filmmakers to demonstrate that they’ve seen the Drunken Master movies. Otherwise, this is the first of the Marvel Netflix shows to have utterly dull action and be almost completely devoid of a signature style: Daredevil was lurid and edgy, Jessica Jones had a noir feel happening, Luke Cage went for an easygoing retro hip-hop angle, etc. Iron Fist? At best, it has the same basic aesthetic as the non-Japanese footage of an average Power Rangers episode.The supporting cast is all similarly adrift: Jessica Henwick has real screen presence, but they’ve handed her a disastrously written version of Colleen Wing who really does feel like she’s only on hand to be a love-interest… at least until they detonate her agency completely with the same basic moronic twist that ruined Elektra in Daredevil (seriously – they’ve done this twice now!). The sole bright spot is seeing Rosario Dawson come back as Claire Temple, and while she’s terrific it’s embarrassing watching the series bend its plot into pretzels to keep her involved: “Hey! Hey, guys! Claire’s back! We listened! We know you all love Claire! Here! Have some super-obvious foreshadowing that maybe she’ll be even MORE involved later!”But the main problem is Danny himself. One can understand how they decided that the “gritty realism” version of Iron Fist would essentially be “that bro you know” who does one-semester backpacking across Asia, comes home thinking he’s a guru and won’t shut up about his Yoga regimen… but I can’t for the life of me imagine why they thought anyone would like such a character. Even if the “optics” of an obnoxious fratboy whose entire arc is about trying to reclaim his various entitlements doesn’t utterly repel you, the character himself will: He’s annoying, glib, snarky, bratty and the show doesn’t seem to realize that none of it is endearing. Nevermind the fact that Finn Jones has no discernible charisma in part and the script can’t keep straight whether he’s naïve, secretive, traumatized or slick from scene to scene.Iron ‘Fish’ the show is the worst thing the Marvel Universe experiment has ever unleashed, but more distressingly Iron Fist the character is easily the least engaging, most unlikable character in their entire superhero menagerie thus far. What’s especially depressing is that it really feels like this character and all the still coyly unexplained Hand bullshit that didn’t work here (or in Daredevil) is going to end up as the main build for The Defenders. That is just not a foundation you’re going build anything worthwhile on.