When Danny Rand was 10-years old, he survived a mysterious plane crash that claimed the lives of his extremely wealthy parents. Rescued by warrior monks, Danny grew up in the of city of K’un-Lun, where he endured harsh conditions, but also trained to be a fierce warrior. Years later, Danny returns home to New York, where he wants to reconnect with his past and take his rightful place at his family’s company, which is being run by his father’s former business partner. Danny hopes to restore his family legacy by defeating the people who threaten it.
*This review contains spoilers*
Top Ten great things about Iron Fist
1. Finn Jones
Finn Jones plays Danny Rand, and conveys child-like innocence and naivety that reflects his sheltered upbringing in K’un-Lun, a frailty that his counterparts (Luke Cage, Jessica Jones and Daredevil) while honorable and great in their own respects don’t have, being far from sheltered. It’s a great foil for the impending Defenders team up.
Danny Rand is an honest person but this character trait gets him into trouble. That coupled with his tantrums and impulsiveness can make him as a character unlikeable but his better side often shines through.
2. Iron Fist
The Iron Fist ability is unique and incredible when it’s used onscreen and is always the tipping point in any fight. The only real complaint is that it just wasn’t used enough but we’ll put that down to experience and training…and screen writing (maybe budget?). The lack of villan that can trade blows with Danny “fist for fist” 😉 is lacking. This is less about punching and more about how people manipulate him and use him, after all, he is called ‘the immortal weapon ‘ , people weild weapons and throughout the show that’s what we see people attempting to do-weild him for better or worse.
The theme of duality isn’t really explored until much later on in the series and for such an interesting and engaging subject matter you’d have expected them to explore this sooner but laying the ground work for Danny’ character is done earlier on, albeit via slow burn that by the time we get to explore it we’re all just a little tired of questions and want to see Iron Fist in action. In many ways Danny is still the boy who ran away from K’un-Lun, this is his coming of age story that matures him in our gritty world as his innocence is stripped, physically and spiritually. It’s an origin story in every sense of the word.
3. Colleen Wing
Colleen Wing is by far my favourite character of the series, she’s written fully, has a lot to do and is completely fleshed out in her own right rather than falling into the cliché of damsel maiden in distress/ female character that can kick butt. She’s layered and her Hand 🤚story arc intertwines with Danny’ and embellishes the plot and Danny as a character, as her secrets unravel. Their romance is pulpable, the conflict is believeable and is not only part of the story but makes the story better.
When Davos shows up the show gets even better and embellishes the romance further by creating conflict with Danny being asked to choose between his best friend Davos and K’un-Lun Lun or his lover Colleen Wing unwitting member of The Hand. Colleen Wing is written well and is acted superbly, with a series of impressive fight scenes topped off by a truly tense masterclass duel when she faces Bukuto.
4.The Hand Mythology
We get and idea of who The Hand are in season 1 of Daredevil , we get a proper introduction and see what they can do in series 2 of Daredevil but here The Hand is masterfully introduced again, we get to see ‘the back of house’, the ‘how ‘ of how does a person decide they want to part of The hand? Here we put the face to the name-The hand are made up of real people. The 6 episode slow burn suddenly pays off, these kids from the dojo are being indoctrinated by a poisonous ninja cabal.
This does so much to add motive to the fights that take place that is absent in Daredevil. I was happy to watch Daredevil and Elektra beat bad ninjas all day but watching Iron Fist, the fights with The Hand after this revelation become so much more weight-filled and meaningful. This is summed up when Colleen has to battle her own students mirroring a scene a few episodes before when she was training them outside; this time the stakes are high.
Bukuto in my humble opinion is the best out of the triumvirate of villains Danny faces in the series. Madam Gao is unecessarily mysterious to the point of iritation. That being said, her all -knowing ancient demeanour is a perfect foil to Danny’ hopeful, childish mindset.
Harold Meachum went from manipulative puppeteer to annoying, violent zombie. While his character is interesting he doesn’t deserve to be deified to main villain status.
It comes down to being able to go fist to fist with Danny, blow for blow-physically and emotionally. We actually see Bukuto teach Danny how to use his powers and later on, block them. Bukuto is a brilliant fighter, is Colleen’ sensei and is just as manipulative as Harold Meachum if not more, with so much more leverage too in the person of Colleen Wing. He has enough mystery about him as Madam Gao, but reveals enough of himself to serve the story and his motivations clearly.
Bukuto should have been the main villain, his motivations aren’t as basic as Madam Gao’ or Harold’. He genuinely has good points, he is a villain you can sympathise with. His cause is noble but his means are corrupt and nothing can hide that despite his emotional intelligence, bluster and charm. He is one of the stand outs of the latter part of the series that makes Iron Fist compelling to watch.
6 Claire Temple
A round character is a character that starts of in the story one way and by the end of the story has undergone some substantial change, they are not the same anymore.
Claire is a round character. It could have been very easy for Marvel Netflix to simply let her serve the purpose of a female Nick Fury; rounding up the Defenders by helping them out in the same way she always does but her series hopping has had a chartered progression that has allowed her visible growth. We see her more involved, and her experience with Matt, Luke and Jessica comes in handy and she is able to assist Danny the most. It could easily have been boring this time round but she’s a more capable version of herself , exploring more and learning more from the hero too.
Excuse my French but Ward was a premier dick head. Condescending, pedantic, a bully, rude, I could go on. But…BUT, you meet his dad Harold and the situations his father puts him in and suddenly Ward is humanised, he’s no angel but you begin to feel sorry for him. His spiralling descent into drugs is all the more sad and it’s depicted vividly by Tom Pelphrey. Ward is another round character I grew to side with and slightly like even if I hated his guts to begin with. He creates conflicts and adds drama.
8. Horror Influence
I’ll keep this short and sweet because I don’t review horror movies but the horror elements in this show must be applauded. Everything from the lighting in Harolds penthouse to the way the staircase /elevator scenes are shot when Joy is going upstairs or when Ward hallucinates. Ward seeing blood coming out of the door and elevator buttons was nicely done. However, the creepiest moment is Harold’ return, it’ all sorts of disgusting and all I could think was “Ward is F@#$ed!”
9. Character Development
The show is accused of slow burning to the point of boredom. I agree and disagree. I agree it was very slow at points and aggravating because all you really want to see is Danny light it up🔥👊🔥 !!!
I disagree it being redundant, Iron Fist goes the long way around by starting off slow to establish relationships, establish the world, and show us who Danny is. What many people fail to realise is that this series is a story of two halves, it’s back to that theme of duality.
The first half digs deep into who Danny Rand is, his relationships with people, how he interacts and we get to really see what type of person he is. The latter half is all about The Iron Fist; we get to see him in action using it, talking about it, talking about it, how he came about it, what his title means, where he trained and so on.
We get comic book heavy and they do their best to make it translate well on screen without sounding silly. Nothing helps more than a well done montage or flashback. Arrow is a golden example of flashbacks done right and it would have been so so good to see more Iron Fist. This was lacking in the development of the character of Danny Rand the Iron Fist. This is the issue many people are finding hard to reconcile with the series-they got a whole lot of Danny Rand but not nearly enough Iron Fist. For the series to shine it needed to be a perfect balance. All that being said it doesn’t nullify what we did get, it was entertaining to see and I wanted more Iron Fist. I still want more Iron Fist. Bigger and better! Come on Marvel!
Springboarding from my Iron Fist rant ,the direction in some of the scenes were really good. The martial arts duels were all good, not as crisp or brutal as Dardevil’ but definitely good.
Where there is no real threat there is no character investmemt. Danny Rand never looks like he’ll lose, not really and that’s why it’s hard to root for him because it just a run of the mill punch up, there are no stakes. I felt the stakes when Colleen duels with Buduko, I felt the peril in my stomach and I prayed she survived because I was invested in the character because she’s vulnerable. I held my breathe whenever I thought Claire might be in mortal danger and covered my mouth in shock when Joy got shot.
Danny’ character became easier to invest in, in the latter part of the series when his loved ones are put in the firing line because they don’t have an Iron Fist, they can die a lot easier than he can. Even the badass Davos got me worried when they were all surrounded by The Hand on the campus.
What am I saying? Iron Fist The series much like it’s titular character often gets in it own way with some missed opportunities that stop it from being incredible rather than just watchable.
That being said when you have to follow all the Marvel Netflix series that have gone before it you soon discover its mammoth undertaking. It’s a good addition to the Marvel Netflix family and and solid foundation for the future.
This was an enjoyable kung fu outing, with good performances and great character development and while I won’t be watching the first couple of episodes again, I’ll certainly be watching the latter.