The latest Marvel/Netflix series - and the final Defender to join Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage - Iron Fist hit screens this month to a very conflicted reception. Unlike its predecessors, the show was plagued from the get-go with controversy over casting Finn Jones as the titular character, with many believing that Netflix should have gone with an Asian actor to circumvent the white savior issues in the story. Additionally, the show itself drew criticism from reviewers, with unfavorable comparisons to Arrow, issues with fight scenes, and much more. It seemed that the show was the first flop for Marvel/Netflix.
Despite the terrible reviews, however, Iron Fist is a hit in terms of viewer numbers, becoming the second-biggest series for the streaming giant. Many felt that the criticisms were too harsh, and Iron Fist does have plenty of fans - despite what Rotten Tomatoes might say. Now, more data has been released that shows the series definitely raked in the viewers, becoming the most binge-watched premiere for the service.
Variety reports that Iron Fist officially has the most binge-watched drama premiere of the year for Netflix, according to numbers from 7Park Data. The research firm showed that 54.7 percent of people watching Iron Fist on the premiere date viewed three or more episodes (which is considered binge watching). Iron Fist also accounted for 14.6 percent of all Netflix streaming on the premiere date. 7Park Data senior analyst Christopher Coby spoke about the importance of this kind of data, and how it can balance out reviews to give a fuller picture of what people are watching:
The relationship between critic reviews and mass appeal has always been a complicated one. Consider the ’70s, ’80s, ’90s and the long list of shows with top audience numbers but few Golden Globes or Emmys to show for it. The actual streams data tells us that what critics consider the best shows and what streaming viewers consider the best are sometimes two very different things. Marvel’s Iron Fist is a case in point.
Of course, these numbers only tell us how many people tuned in, not their feelings on the show after watching. With a series like Iron Fist, it's important to remember that many people binge-watched the show in order to be able to join in on online discussion, or because it is tied into the larger Defenders universe, not because they actually enjoyed the show as a whole. Iron Fist was also the only new Netflix Original series released since January, when A Series Of Unfortunate Events premiered. It's not surprising, then, that it was the most-binge-watched show of the year so far, as it was incredibly hyped and had almost no competition.
Still, these figures show that despite the controversy, the Marvel/Netflix universe has a lot of pull with viewers, and Iron Fist interested enough people to keep them binge-watching the series. It may not be the unqualified success that previous Defenders shows have been, but data like this suggest it might not be as bad as it seems, either.
The Defenders will arrive sometime in the summer, with The Punisher coming later this year, Daredevil seasons 1 and 2, Jessica Jones season 1, Luke Cage season 1, and Iron Fist season 1 are now available on Netflix. Premiere dates for the newest seasons of Jessica Jones, Daredevil, and Luke Cage have not yet been revealed.