REVIEW: IRON FIST
I’ve been looking forward to this one ever since it was announced as a future Netflix series. Danny Rand the ninja in the green and yellow pyjamas is my third favourite Marvel character. Behind Wolverine and Daredevil. Yes I was looking more forward to this than Daredevil. In my opinion Daredevil is tailored made for episodic television. If they had got it wrong shame on them. Iron Fist is different.
He spent a lot of his comics career in limbo. Rarely can he sustain a monthly series which is a whole other issue. Nobody really gave a crap about him till the Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction and David Aja series. I haven’t been put off by the negative reviews because I haven’t read them. I’ve seen the headlines and it makes me think critics now are just wishing Marvel to fail. So rather than get sucked into the negativity I instead drew up a list of things I’d like to see (writing this before watching). As I don’t read a lot of casting news I can’t remember if Lei Kung and Davos are slated to be in it. I could just like but it will be a nice surprise if they pop up. How big will their roles be? Will we get mention or even see other Iron Fist and other Immortal Weapons? What will the connective tissue be like?
After I watched the first two episodes back to back I could see why it got bad reviews. However I am now five episodes in and I’m enjoying it. My biggest problem with the first two episodes was pacing. In an ideal world they would have taken the best bits from both and made one decent episode. Things pick up in episode three. Each of the Marvel Netflix shows have taken different approaches to tell very different stories. Us comic readers know Iron Fist is completely different to Daredevil so to compare the two shows is unfair. Daredevil set the bar very high. Jessica Jones carried it on. For me Luke Cage dipped and in fact I still haven’t finished it yet. I feel Iron Fist maybe going down the same route as Luke Cage in being too many episodes. The stand out error with the pacing was how long it took to get the Iron Fist in action! Also we knew we weren’t getting the costume from reports so why hold back so long on revealing the tattoo as well? By episodes four and five I think it has definitely found its stride. The plot thickens, all round fighting and violence is increased.
Atmosphere is increased with moody lighting and stormy weather. We get two Marvel Netflix series must haves in these two episodes. A hallway fight scene and the introduction of Claire Temple. (The always brilliant Rosario Dawson. God she looked sooo good in her gym shorts). Her presence in Danny’s story was actual well handled. Having her as a student of Colleen Wing makes perfect sense. Then obviously they need her medical skills and her previous knowledge of The Hand plays a part. Aside from Claire Temple and a name drop here and there the four series have been pretty loosely connected. I just have a nagging feeling Iron Fist maybe be balancing two stories. That of Danny Rand and delivering some set up for next years The Defenders. I could be wrong but that could be what is upsetting the balance of pacing. The original run of Iron Fist comics in Marvel Premier are a rather simple concept. Danny Rand returns to earth after years training to become the Iron Fist in K’un Lun. He wants revenge on Harold Meerschaum who he blames for his fathers death. Obviously while he was away Meachum has become and old man and Danny can’t kill him. Instead he goes on other kung-fu based adventures.
What this series plays up more is people having major doubts about Danny’s sanity. As well as have Danny being more naive to mans world. He doesn’t acclimatize to the business side of his previous life as easily in the comics. Already there have been hints of him using his influence at Rand to help those who truly need it. Brining him more into line with the Brubaker/Fraction Danny Rand. Thats another thing why Rand Enterprises? Whats was wrong with Rand Corp? The fighting in Iron Fist is very different from Daredevil. Even within the series there are different styles going on. Whilst Daredevil and Elektra for story purposes may have seemed very similar. Danny and Colleen are completely different. Also different gangs have different styles. In a few of the early episodes Danny name drops some comic book stuff and it was geekgasm time. When I collected the Brubaker/Fraction run and then went back and read the Essential Iron Fist I never imagined he would be holding his own TV show. So to hear these things like Lei Kung the Thunderer and Shou-Lao the Undying is just pure joy. The names of the episodes pay homage to the names writers came up with for kung-fu moves down the years in the comics.
Finn Jones reminds me of a cross between Chris Hemsworth and Keanu Reeves. I like what he brings to the role. He’s a little of the OG Danny Rand and a little of the newer more modern version. He is extremely laid back. But seeing as he has complete control of his Chi he would be right? You can actually see him growing in the role with each episode. The child like naivety at being back in mans world does grate a little at time. I can totally see him bouncing of off Mike Colter’s Luke Cage. His chemistry with Colleen Wing played by Jessica Henwick also starts to grow around episode five. It will be interesting to see what route they take. Will it be romantic? In the early comics they were more like brother and sister. Talking of brother and sister we have Tom Pelphrey and Jessica Stroup playing Ward and Joy Meachum.
I don’t like Ward as a character but I like Pelphrey’s performance. Its like a typical 90’s movie smarmy, sleazy, win at any costs business man. Throw in some drug use, womanising and Daddy issues and its a solid character arc. Stroup also plays her role well without being outstanding. She seems to swing between being more emotionally involved to hard edged business bitch. David Wenham as Harold Meachum portrays the role with the right amounts of mysteriousness, villainy and father figure. Jessica Henwick is the best! You’ve probably been seeing that a lot since Iron Fist dropped last Friday. She does everything right with Colleen Wing. A combination of good writing and excellent performance make Colleen Wing feel like the only character with a clearly defined arc. Henwick holds your attention every time she is on screen. Immediately making you feel for the character. Obviously she has trained hard for the role and in the fight scenes it shows. Four episodes in and could easily be re branded as Daughter of the Dragon. Its the little details that add to her performance though. Whether it be her stance while in conversation or the little glances she does during fights its all positive stuff.
I think Iron Fist is worth sticking with for the entire series. Yes I’ve only watched five and it is a slow burn. It has certainly shown potential to deliver later on in the series. In my opinion it would have benefited from more flashbacks earlier own. Danny’s time in K’un Lun is such a big part of his story. I understand Finn Jones is the lead but I don’t think it would have hurt to have a more extended flashback earlier on to set things up more. Like I said stick with it I’m going to then maybe I’ll finish Luke Cage and be all set for The Defenders!
About Ian Wells
Ian currently runs the THEBLOGOFCOMICSHOTTOPICS blog. Check him out on Twitter @IanWells87.
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Together Richard and Shawn formed the podcast The Language of Bromance and from there it has been nothing but fun. The duo laugh about things they go through, stories in the news and even getting serious discussing net neutrality along with other issues. Every so often their friendship turns to a bitter rivalry with their nerdiest creation the draft episodes. An original take on a best of or a top 10 list. The draft episodes are done like an NFL Draft 7 rounds where Richard and Shawn flip-flop picks on various topics.
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