You may have heard some of the controversy over Marvel's Iron Fist. While the term “whitewashing” is inappropriate (the original character is White), there are still concerns over whether Marvel made the right choice when they could have had an Asian-American lead. I want to address those before I move on to discuss some of the flaws of the series but also why it isn't as bad as some might say.
The problem I have with Iron Fist isn't one of race but I don't want to ignore it as a potential issue. Most complaints call out the "white saviour" trope and I'll leave you to form your own opinion but I have a few points to be considered. It's worth noting that Danny's character flaws and dereliction of duty make him much less of a White paragon of power, he may be White but “saviour” may be too strong a word. Becoming the Iron Fist of K'un-Lun wasn't about him being the White outsider that is somehow better than those raised into that lifestyle (however assuming all Asian people are good/the best at martial arts raises its own issues). It was about him doing things differently, if anything he is a terrible Iron Fist; doesn't follow the job description at all, talks about his solemn duty at the same time as abandoning it, but if none of this happened he wouldn't be the catalyst for change that the series is setting him up to be.
Now we have that addressed, let's move on to the the biggest issue I have with this series. Danny Rand as Iron Fist is boring. This may not be for the reasons you're imagining but Danny happens to be a rather traditional hero which in my eyes is what makes him boring. I use "traditional hero" as a negative here because I've come to realise I can't stand the kind of hero who does the right thing because that's who they are, always doing the right thing because it's the right thing. I much prefer the heroes that do the right thing in spite of who they are. All of the other Netflix heroes have had to work to become a hero well after they were granted powers. To be fair Danny has a tonne of other flaws to overcome, but there's still something irritating about these "I won't question it because it's the right thing to do" types. Because of this, seeing Iron Fist play off against the other Defenders could work out in interesting ways.
You'll form first impressions of people that will turn out to be overly simplified, even supporting characters rarely have a single motivation. Most times this inner conflict is shown in subtle ways, the odd glance or a throwaway sentence. Other times it will be much more obvious. Even the less likeable characters have redeeming qualities, and one or two of the initially likeable ones have a hidden mean streak. It has me slightly baffled, I've heard people call out "bad acting" but I feel some of these characters have an intentional blankness, there's a lot of talk about wearing masks and keeping secrets and I think that these characters themselves are trying so hard to present a certain image some viewers may be picking up on that. It also explains why this image looks like a stock photo. I had concerns that these shifts in character were a bit sporadic so can understand that being interpreted as bad writing. However given the conflicting motivations in these characters I've been able to see reasons for these occasional strange outbursts. It's really not all that bad.
Iron Fist was always going to be the hardest one to get right, Danny is an outsider whichever world he is in. Whereas Daredevil dwelt in the shadows of Hell's Kitchen and Luke Cage found a home to protect in Harlem... Iron Fist is meant to feel out of place. For example other incarnations of Iron Fist I have seen have also had the characteristic of reeling off Buddhist philosophy and this one is no different but if you had a friend that did this it could seem pretty odd... nothing against the Buddhist philosophy – we could all probably learn something from it. It would be the same for anyone who interrupted conversation with their favourite quotes, whether they were from TV, film, books or famous folk. It all makes sense when you think he has spent most of his life around these teachings, having them drilled into him whenever they are relevant.
This brings me to another key to unlocking the character of Danny Rand, everything he does, everything I've heard him being criticised for, whether it's childish outbursts, unfounded arrogance or complete naivete; they all stem from his history, from his childhood or lack thereof. In many ways Danny is still the 10 year old boy who lost his parents, it may not make him a particularly likeable protagonist but it feels believable. I might not be a fan of flashback sequences but their repeated use in the first few episodes are just there to reinforce this notion of Danny being trapped in his childhood as it's pretty essential to accepting the character. This also plays into how/why Danny was chosen to be the Iron Fist but I'll let the later episodes explain that one rather than giving away spoilers.
Iron Fist doesn't have the tight choreography of Daredevil or the perfectly tailored soundtrack of Luke Cage, it doesn't have the brutality of any of the other Defenders series. What it does have is interesting characters, a unique mysticism and a closer look at the shadowy machinations of The Hand. It is significantly slower paced than most of the other Marvel Netflix shows but I discovered there was always something that meant I just had to find out what happened next.