My Hero Academia Is a Better Iron Fist than Iron Fist

Saturday , 27, May 2017 15 Comments

This boy has more heroism in his pinky than Danny does in his whole body.

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.

  • Xavier Basora says:


    Why do youb5hink the writers of Iron fist botched the show? Checkboxing the hero’s journey?
    Underestimating the pace by chooing a leisurely slowburn instead of a more workman pulpy pace?

    Or some other storytelling error?


    • Rawle Nyanzi says:

      The bad pacing is definitely the culprit here, and Danny just doesn’t come off as heroic or driven.

    • David says:

      A quote from Teen Titans Go is appropriate here…

      Robin, “I’m sorry Beast Boy, but it seems like lately, you’ve forgotten what being a hero is all about.”

      Beast Boy, “That’s not fair! I never knew in the first place.”

      The writers of Iron Fist either forgot what being a hero is all about, or they never knew in the first place. The biggest problem is that they seemed determined to not let Danny be a hero.

  • Man of the Atom says:

    Danny Rand *exists* within “Iron Fist” and *is driven by* events that transpire in that world. Does Danny have a goal, or is he merely existing in the world? What is the conflict in which Danny engages?

    Deku *takes action* and *fights to achieve his goal(s)* and has to overcome both *internal and external conflict* within “My Hero Academia”.

    Brian Niemeier says it better than I do.

  • John E. Boyle says:

    “Beats Danny like a rented mule.”

    Can I use that?

  • Andy says:

    I don’t have Netflix, so I haven’t seen any of the Marvel shows except the first couple of Daredevil episodes, but Iron Fist always looked misconceived from the news updates I saw.

    Personally, I wanted them to make it a high-octane martial arts/action show, and felt they should have pursued someone like Scott Adkins for the lead; i.e., an actual martial artist who’s comfortable with basic acting stuff. Instead they cast a soft, physically unimposing ACTOR~! and apparently built the show around family drama crap that was never a particularly interesting part of the comics. You could see its failure coming all the way down the line.

  • I haven’t seen either, but the mention of the in-common super power makes me wonder, how does either compare to One Punch Man?

  • Xavier Basora says:

    Thanks very much to all the commentators!

    I hope Netflix or some other company will greenlight fanfic or invite fans to improve shows thst would interesting to see how fans could improve Iron fist and other shows that need improvement

  • The Netflix version of Ironfist has a wikipedia’s glancing level of understanding in martial arts and Eastern philosophy. You can feel the love of the subject matter is absent.

    My Hero Academia is all heart.

  • Ingot9455 says:

    The way to watch Iron Fist is to realize that Danny is a character in a roleplaying game. His player only had a basic idea for the character – a martial artist who focuses his chi into a super punch, and oh yeah, he’s rich.

    He wrote up that character sheet and then realized that he’d only spent half of his character build points. So he asks the gamemaster, “I dunno – can we do this improvisationally? Can I spend points as we go if it’s reasonable?” And the gamemaster says, “Sure!”

    That’s why Danny is always pulling new skills and powers out of his rear end – “I’m super-dextrous and I don’t have anything loud on me like guns or even loose change so I’m quiet, can I sneak after this guy?” and the GM says, “Sure!
    Let’s write that down on your sheet.” And, “I grew up in a Tibetan monastery in the mountains, can I free-climb this building?” and the GM says, “Sure!” And finally, “This getting drugged and poisoned every fifteen minutes stuff is for the birds. Can I like, focus my chi and cleanse poisons from my body?” And again the GM says, “Sure!”

    He’s a pretty good GM because every time Danny gets a new power it just gets him into more trouble.

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