When I spoke about the Iron Fist series on my own blog, I said it was fun. However, upon further reflection, I see that the show had far too many flaws, foremost among them the fact that the main antagonists — the Hand — were never explained, nor was K’un-L’un’s importance to the Hand.
But when I watched the anime My Hero Academia, I realized that it was a far better take on Iron Fist than the official version by Marvel and Netflix.
First, let’s start with the similarities. Both Deku and Danny have a similar power — a superpowered knockout punch. Both of them trained very hard to acquire said power. Both of them have trouble controlling the power and using it reliably.
That’s where the similarities end, however. In terms of heroism, Deku beats Danny like a rented mule.
Though Danny Rand is presented as an effective martial artist, his overall demeanor is passive. He spends most of the first few episodes running away or getting beaten down. Much of the show’s beginning focuses on the drama involving Rand Oil and Chemical moreso than the martial arts action the show promised. Only in the second half of the series is there a greater move toward martial arts.
My Hero Academia, on the other hand, has plenty of action right at the beginning. Despite Deku’s initial whining, he rushes right into the fray after a powerful villain menaces a local shopping center. When he begins his education at UA Academy, he shows his heroic spirit and unbreakable resolve even when he is at a disadvantage. Even though he doesn’t always come out ahead, he always takes an active role in the action.
Danny Rand lumbers from crisis to crisis, surviving danger rather than fighting evil. His rationale for returning to New York is very unclear, especially when he repeatedly states that he has to guard a gate at the mystical realm of K’un-L’un. A villain even points out that Danny ran away from what was supposed to be his duty.
Deku, on the other hand, fully embraces his role as a hero in training. There is no ambiguity about what he wants — he seeks to become a great and respected superhero like his idol All Might. When he has doubts, he gets over them and looks for a solution to whatever is bugging him. Even when he is facing villains far greater than him in strength or numbers, he goes out of his way to help his teammates. If it were Deku throwing down in New York instead of Danny, that city would have been a lot safer.
If you want to see heroic action this year, stay far away from Iron Fist and watch My Hero Academia many times over.