There’s plenty to dislike about Iron Fist, but I’m not here to critique its (justified) casting controversy, its wooden acting, or even its breathtakingly bad plot. Instead I want to shout out the show’s unsung hero, the only character to make any damn sense in its crazy world: Claire Temple.
My girl Claire, played by Rosario Dawson, has been the go-to nurse throughout Netflix’s take on the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Over the course of four shows and five seasons, we’ve watched her grow. Where early Daredevil episodes used her as a plot device — a love interest turned into a damsel in need of rescuing — Iron Fist sees her learning how to fight back. Claire takes lessons from martial arts master Colleen Wing, and eventually finds herself punching a few ninjas on Danny Rand’s behalf.
Claire has no superpowers, unless you count an earth-shattering amount of patience and access to pharmaceuticals. What makes her remarkable is how ordinary she is in this world of extraordinary fighters. This means that while Iron Fist’s plot is on a tear about mystical evil forces and glowing body parts, Claire can act as the mouthpiece for the good skeptics at home.
When Danny Rand starts ranting about how he is “the Iron Fist,” Claire breathes some much-needed levity into the scene by aggressively shrugging and asking, “What the hell does that mean?” She’s quick to point out when plans suck (“This idea totally sucks”), and has to dissuade the show’s heroes from actual murder. Because, like, that’s frowned upon for good guys.
Claire’s charm isn’t just about how the character is written. Dawson plays the no-nonsense nurse as someone who lives by the real world’s rules: she can’t punch her way out of a problem, so has to find a solution just like the rest of us normals. That makes her more powerful than some jerk with a glowing hand. And more likable to boot.