Netflix's Iron Fist is a superhero show, yes, but it's a bit different from the rest of the Marvel streaming fold. Danny Rand's inherent kung-fu ability is a key part of the character, so the series does a lot of kung-fu action sequences that require skill and precision to look convincing. Considering how important those scenes were, you might be shocked to learn that actor Finn Jones says those scenes were extremely rushed more often than not due to a tight schedule:
But really, I was learning the fight scenes 15 minutes before we actually shot them because the schedule was so tight. So 15 minutes before, the stunt director would talk me through the choreography and I'd just jump straight into it. It really was a baptism of fire and I just learned on the job and I've been doing it for 12 months now. With practice, you just get better and better with dealing with that kind of schedule.
That sounds stressful, in addition to hard to pull off! The rushed sequences might be the cause for critics and fans pointing out that while Danny Rand's kung-fu is not laughably terrible, it's certainly not on the level of fighting that Daredevil or Jessica Jones featured in its shows. For a superhero that's supposed to be so highly skilled in the art, he certainly wasn't blowing my mind with any Ip-Man style fighting. While some of that is linked to differences in heroes and fight styles, time is sounding like it played a key role as well.
As Jones tells Metro, the filming for Iron Fist was on a very tight schedule. This is presumably due to Marvel shooting The Defenders right after. In fact, various sources point to Iron Fist wrapping production in early October 2016, with The Defenders beginning shooting in November. Considering Finn Jones would be needed for both shows, Iron Fist kind of got the short end of the stick on production time when compared to the previous entry Luke Cage, which had wrapped in March of that same year. Jones dives more into the time crunch for filming in the statement below:
It was very intense to begin with. When I first moved over to New York, before I started actually filming, I had three weeks of very intense martial arts and weight training preparation. But then unfortunately once the show started, the filming schedule was just so tight -- I was working 14 hours every day, six days a week, days into nights, nights into days -- and actually my schedule didn't allow me to continue the training as much as I really hoped.
That's a lot of work Finn Jones had to put in to sell those fight scenes in Iron Fist. The only other Marvel Netflix series to really offer that same level of hand-to-hand combat was Daredevil, and Charlie Cox had the luxury of having seasoned stuntman Chris Brewster (who also does stunt work for Chris Evans' Captain America) put on the mask for a bulk of his battles. I'm not taking anything away from the prep these guys have to physically endure to play these roles, mind you, but it's worth noting that Finn Jones is prominently featured and you know it's him in his fight scenes. You have to wonder how much more effective these scenes would've looked had the show had lengthy film shoot and post-production prior to the filming of The Defenders. Reshoots aren't always terrible.
Would more time on set have helped the Iron Fist be better received by critics? That's hard to say definitively, as there's a laundry list of issues the series has come under fire for following its release that have nothing to do with fisticuffs. If nothing else, it would've allowed Finn Jones more time to work on his kung-fu, and that could only have made things better. If you haven't watched yet, Iron Fist is currently streaming on Netflix, but if you're over that, you can check out our midseason premiere guide and summer TV guide to pick up a new show as we head into the coming months.