The amount of time I’ve spent binge watching TV since
Doomsday Election Day is…well, it’s been a lot of television. It seems only fair that I give you a Netflix’ Marvel Iron Fist review.
Before we get started, here’s what you need to know:
I am not familiar with the source material for ANY of the Netflix/Marvel ventures.
I have nothing against comic books and, had I been introduced to them as a child, probably would’ve really, really enjoyed them. Sure, I could start now, but I have other expensive hobbies. As it stands, I know what I know from 1) the Internet 2) watching the shows.
Simply because of this, some people will stumble upon this Iron Fist review and immediately discount everything I’m saying because “I don’t know what I’m talking about.”
That’s Ward Meachum and his facial expressions and exasperation up there say basically everything I have to say about people who think I can’t talk about a TV show without knowing the source material.
Again, I went into this knowing nothing, so my opinions are formed solely around what was presented on screen.
Now that that’s settled…
I really, really enjoyed Iron Fist. Like, really enjoyed it.
Maybe it’s because I’m a sucker for a good damaged-hero story, or maybe it’s because Finn Jones’ blue eyes are, like, really, really blue. But I really liked this series.
To sum, Danny Rand (Finn Jones) returns to New York City after 15 years of everyone believing him to be dead. On their way to China, his family’s jet crashed in the Himalayas. Danny’s parents died (probably) and he was taken in by monks where he eventually trained in kung fu and became the Iron Fist, an Immortal Weapon meant to guard the path to K’un Lun, a mystical hidden city wanted by The Hand.
He arrives in New York City to find that no one believes he is who he says he is and the people he counted on to trust him, Ward and Joy Meachum, his childhood friends, do not. Joy believes there’s a possibility it could be him; Ward immediately wants to have Danny disposed of so that he can’t threaten their hold on the company their fathers built, Rand Enterprises.
Ward is shrewd and calculating, thanks to his undead father, Harold Meachum, instructing him in all financial and business decisions from beyond the grave. (Pro tip: Never trust the undead. Particularly when the undead are working for a mysterious group of super-ninjas who are peddling heroin and are actually not dead.)
Thanks to special appearances from Jeri Hogarth, whom Marvel’s Jessica Jones fans will remember as the high profile attorney who employed Jessica’s particular skillset, Danny is able to prove his identity and take position in his father’s company.
Along the way he meets a woman named Colleen Wing, and theirs was probably one of my favorite parts of the story.
To get the supermega details, you have to watch Iron Fist. But that’s your hook. If you keep reading beyond this point, know that there may be spoilers, though as a spoiler-hater, I’ll do my best to stick to the broader story and not the specifics.
Iron Fist: The Good
For starters, this was just a really fun way to ignore life for a while, as all the Marvel/Netflix series’ have been. Danny, this mysteriously back from the dead man, was a nice escape.
He also has this awesome chest tattoo:
Crossovers and Easter Eggs
Iron Fist, more than any other Marvel/Netflix series, tied together pieces from each of the Defenders’ stories in ways that none of the other stories could’ve.
Daredevil, for instance, was the first in its class. Jessica Jones gave us a Claire Temple crossover and introduced us to Luke Cage.
Luke Cage gave Claire Temple a little spotlight which only got brighter in Iron Fist.
Claire is, so far, the only character to appear in all four Netflix/Marvel shows, and rightly so. As the sole provider of healthcare to people with abilities, it makes sense. She should open a walk-in clinic.
In Iron Fist, Claire gets a little more armchair psychiatrist than in previous stories, actively counseling Danny to work through his anger and panic. And anger and panic were certainly huge aspects of Danny’s character.
In fact, I think the fact that he couldn’t let go of the dramatic circumstances surrounding his parents death endeared him to me in a way. (It also made him seem too childish, which I’ll get to in a minute.)
Anyway. Back to the Easter Eggs.
There were references to Karen Page, mentions of a private investigator who is really good at her job, letters from Seagate, several “you’re not the only person I know with gifts” lines, and Madame Gao.
Madame Gao is not good. Fans of Daredevil will remember her as the old woman Wilson Fisk underestimated. Daredevil had run-ins with her henchmen while trying to stop her criminal enterprise and now she’s back.
In this way Daredevil and Iron Fist serve as perfect bookends for the Marvel Universe on Netflix by bringing this character back to the forefront. Whether or not The Hand will factor into the Defenders, I don’t know.
Sigourney Weaver will play the primary villain in that series, but that doesn’t mean Madame Gao is finished. And even if she’s not in The Defenders, there’s always hope that Netflix will option an Iron Fist Season 2 so this story can continue. (It really should continue.)
Danny and Colleen! They were perfect, a nice balance of damaged and hopeful, bringing out the better parts of each other, and Colleen’s history helped show Danny that 1) people aren’t always who they seem, and 2) it’s okay to trust people who turn out to be different from who you thought. Not everything is as black and white as it was back in K’un Lun.
I found myself pulling HARD for there not to be a love triangle between Danny, Colleen, and Joy.
As the series premiered, it seemed like Joy and Danny would get into something, like their families had betrothed them as infants. All their back and forth talk of Danny as part of their family would’ve made that feel incestuous, and, really, Colleen’s a better fit anyway.
(Plus, Joy did not seem to be on Team Danny by the end…)
They were both essentially orphaned at a young age, raised in monastic environments. They both have trouble relating to people. And then there’s that whole shared love of martial arts thing.
That meditation dance they did in one of the final two episodes? Whew.
They just make each other better. Team Dalleen. (Conny? Whatever.)
I also grew to love Ward Meachum. As troubled and unlikely heroes go, he’s probably the most troubled and most unlikely of the show. Not that he’s a hero-hero…
Ward was instantly hate-able. IMMEDIATELY. From the first time he stepped onscreen with his slicked back hair and cocky bravado, it was clear we were not supposed to like this guy at all.
Then we met his father and it became really clear that Ward was a puppet. As Ward realized this about himself and worked to get out of his father’s grasp, he became more damaged. However, I think it’s safe to say that, for now, he’s emerged as someone Danny can trust.
Ward’s arc and development was the best of the series. While he’s definitely not a good guy in the typical sense, he’s very, very done being “bad.” He’s done being Harold Jr. and that instantly makes him likable to me because Harold was scum, the kind of guy you love to hate. He’s necessary because he’s a villain, but he’s just…oily and disgusting.
(And it *sort of* seemed like he had a thing for his own daughter, which, ew.)
Iron Fist: The Not-So-Good
There were a LOT of times when I wanted to reach through the screen and use my own iron fist to knock some sense into Danny Rand. Sure, he’d been raised in a monastery, but he was pretty dumb about how people and the world work.
He expected people to welcome him back to civilization with open arms after showing up in New York City and walking around barefoot. (Still kind of shuddering at the idea of walking around NYC barefoot and I’ve walked around Vegas barefoot.)
In a lot of ways, as I mentioned above, Danny was a man-child. It was easily forgivable in some circumstances, but just dumb in others. He rushed to trust Harold because he wanted a father figure, but he sort of had one of those back in K’un Lun and apparently didn’t understand that.
Danny just…he was almost too trusting. A little too naive about how the world works. Again: he’s been in a monastery. We get it. But did those monks teach him nothing?
They taught him about the Iron Fist and he walked out of K’un Lun with a glowing hand. As a fighter, this is his trick. Kind of his only trick.
In a cage match between Daredevil and Danny Rand, Daredevil wins 100% of the time. Matt Murdock is 1 million times a better fighter than Danny Rand/Iron Fist. One. Million.
That was actually a critical point I happened to agree with. For a show with a hero who is a kung fu master, the fight sequences were only sort of meh. They were better when Danny was teamed up with Colleen or Davos, any time they took place in a tight space or close quarters, or when they didn’t involve Danny at all.
The third not-so-good part? Joy Meachum.
She’s impossible to read and not in a good way. Her character felt flat and boring the entire time. It never felt genuine when she was supposed to be worried about Ward.
And then she finds out her dad has been alive this entire time and doesn’t even take a minute to evaluate the total WTF of the situation?? Oh. Okay.
Girl. Get some Spidey Senses. That feeling in your gut that told you Danny was really Danny? Tune it in on Dear Old Dad and figure out quick that he’s bad news. You can do this.
To Watch or Not To Watch
Alright, I’ll be honest, the acting in this can sometimes feel incredibly wooden. Finn Jones (aka Sir Loras Tyrell) had a HARD time managing his accent. So did Jessica Henwick. I could excuse them both because neither character grew up in New York City, but still.
Sometimes the story got a lot hokey. It’s a superhero genre story with people with extraordinary abilities, so the fact that it’s not set in our reality even if the backdrop is New York City helps excuse the cheese factor. A little.
Overall, yes. I say watch. Especially if you’re a fan of the Marvel universe.
Marvel’s Iron Fist is worth it if for no other reason than the bookend it provides for the Netflix/Marvel universe. Unlike other series’ (not in this genre) where I can watch an episode here or there, take it or leave it, this was a true binge-watch. I found myself looking for times to sneak in an episode instead of doing laundry or dishes. (I mean, okay, let’s be real. Almost anything is preferable to laundry or dishes.)
Do I *really* need to walk to the bus stop or can I stand inside the door and wave at the bus driver to maximize viewing time? Hmmm… (did that more than once).
I needed to know if Harold Meachum would get a comeuppance. I really wanted to see how the relationship between Danny and Colleen would progress. I wanted to know if Danny would figure out how to center his Chi permanently so he could always access the Iron Fist and do crazy things like this:
I loved seeing Claire and watching her character development across four separate-yet-related series’. Iron Fist made me really excited for The Defenders and its debut later this year. All four of these characters together fighting bad guys with appearances by my favorite supporting characters?
Yes. Two Iron Fists way up for that.
Two Iron Fists up for this series, too. Go take a break from reality for a bit. You won’t be sorry you did.