This Video Analyzes Why The Hand Was Such a Boring Big Bad on the Marvel Netflix Series
YouTuber Patrick (H) Willems, who’s previously reimagined the X-Men as directed by Wes Anderson and Ant-Man as directed by Werner Herzog, recently posted a video essay that addresses two key questions from the Marvel Netflix series: “Why is The Hand so boring?” and “How did they take an inherently cool concept and make it distinctly uncool?”
As Willems observes, three of the six Marvel Netflix series – Daredevil, Iron Fist, and The Defenders – have used The Hand as a primary antagonist in at least one season. And in each iteration, The Hand has failed as a compelling villain. In the second season of Daredevil, “this storyline quickly grows dull, since there are no real characters in The Hand – just a general, formless threat.” In Iron Fist, “they’re this vague threat with unclear motives, controlling things behind the scenes.” And then in The Defenders, “after all that mystery, it turns out the leaders of The Hand might as well be board members for some corporation, and their grand plan is both boring and nonsensical.”
Willems then contrasts the Netflix series’ approach to The Hand with their use and introduction in Frank Miller’s Daredevil comics arc, “The Elektra Saga.” While there’s definitely plenty to discuss and criticize about the treatment of Elektra in that storyline, Willems does argue that Miller uses The Hand, at least, effectively.
On the Netflix shows, however, he argues that The Hand was never given a sharp, strong conflict. “With The Hand, the conflicts are nebulous,” he says. “The Hand is involved in heroin distribution, assassinations, shady corporate dealings, an ancient war with The Chaste, and later on, trying to destroy New York. The motivations are unclear. The goals are unclear. And it makes the conflict unclear – other than that the heroes are trying to stop them because they’re just generally bad.”
In sum, Willems argues, “The Hand were never meant to be primary antagonists…These are faceless organizations engaged in a war that has gone on for millennia. That sounds cool, but once you zoom in, there’s not much to latch onto.”
I think this video captures the two main issues with The Hand – they become uncool once you get too deep into their internal politics, and they’re introduced hamfistedly without giving the audience a strong understanding of their motives – but what do you think? Did The Hand actually work for you? Did you have a different problem with their role in the Netflix series than Willems? Is there a way to make these elements work going forward?
(Featured image via YouTube thumbnail)
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