Iron Fist Advanced Review: The Final Defender Arrives

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When Iron Fist premieres on March 17th, audiences will be introduced to the final Defender, Danny Rand. In this non-spoiler Iron Fist advanced review, we share our thoughts about Danny, Colleen Wing, The Hand, and how the show connects to the Netflix Defendersverse of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage.

Meeting Danny Rand 

When the show begins, Danny has returned to New York for the first time in 15 years. Danny is naive, he’s been off the grid all this time, he has no sense of protocol in the 21st century. Danny truly believes that he can show up at his father’s company, 15 years later, as if no time has passed. Unfortunately, Danny is met with intense skepticism from Ward and Joy Meachum, the children of his father’s late business partner. What surprised me the most about the opening sequence of events is that Danny’s first struggle was not physical but mental. Yes, Danny’s strength rests within his powerful fist, but his first task is not to best someone with his strength but to prove his identity and mental faculties. Danny is also misjudged as a homeless person, people treat him like a vagrant even though he’s the son of a billionaire. The pre-judgement here is quite fitting considering the judgment the internet has already cast on the series, despite it not airing yet, but I digress. The first two episodes of the series really dig into the question of identity and presumption.

The first two episodes also show Danny reliving moments of his greatest trauma: the plane crash that claimed his parents’ life. Much like Jessica Jones, Danny is haunted by vivid memories that trigger his PTSD. This trend of broken people becoming heroes in spite of their mental and physical damage really comes through Iron Fist. Danny has strength and skill like Jessica, like Luke, like Matt — but he must choose to use those strengths and skills, he must choose to become the Iron Fist. 

How Colleen, Danny, & Claire Shine

After having seen the first six episodes, I definitely have some favorite characters and themes. Danny is great, Finn Jones portrays a quiet, introspective yet strong leading man. Danny is childlike, he’s innocent, he believes in the inherent goodness of others — which is a quality about him that I really enjoy. Colleen Wing is also an amazing character. Jessica Henwick portrays a rigid, determined, focused young woman who is also challenged to use her powers for good. Danny Really challenges Colleen to step outside of her martial arts classroom and into the ring of life. I also really like Claire Temple. It’s great seeing Rosario Dawson show up across the Netflix Defendersverse. She’s so funny and so willing to help when she’s needed. Claire has a hilarious line in the fifth or sixth episode where she looks at Danny and point-blankly says, “You mean I know more about The Hand than you do?” It’s hilarious and ironically true, all things considered.

I’m also really enjoyed the mystical lore of the Iron Fist. Danny’s time in K’un-lun really fascinates me. There’s a scene with Danny and Madame Gao where she compares K’un-lun to heaven. She asks Danny, “why would you leave heaven?” That question is at the heart of the show. Why did Danny leave K’un-lun, a place of complete solitude and serenity, to return to New York City? I believe this question will be answered, but the show doesn’t answer it too quickly. 

How Iron Fist Connects with The Defenders

You might be wondering how Iron Fist will connect with Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage. Iron Fist is actually the most connective show Netflix has produced so far. Jessica Jones and Luke Cage were very much standalone seasons. Iron Fist, however, connects very clearly to Daredevil in a way that neither Jessica Jones or Luke Cage did. Madame Gao, Claire Temple, Jeri Hogarth — they all play significant roles in Iron Fist — and The Hand, of course, are out to destroy New York. Matt Murdock faced them in one small way in Daredevil Season 2, but Danny will face them head on Iron Fist. In fact, because Danny Rand is the sworn enemy of The Hand, it’s clear that the Defenders show will pick up where Iron Fist leaves off. It’s really quite fascinating how well Marvel’s Netflix universe has built up to a villain that will require the Defenders to assemble, much like the way the Avengers had to come together to defeat Loki.

Final Verdict

The show is a slow burn. The first two episodes deal exclusively with Danny’s return to NYC after 15 years of absence. He has no friends, no family, and no one to believe that he is who he says he is. The show begins to pick up around episode three and by episode six the action really kicks into high gear. While I think the show could have benefited from picking up the pace more quickly, I also think Danny’s PTSD and struggles with the Meachum family make him a more realistic and grounded character. For anyone who hasn’t read the comics, you may enjoy how the show doesn’t just give Danny’s identity or powers away too quickly. The show really takes its time in pulling the curtain back on Danny’s training with the monks, which I think was a smart choice. Like all the other Defendersverse characters, Danny is a reluctant hero and this primary season shows him wrestling with the decision to wade into the fight and use his gifts to save New York. Oh, and the opening credits are just perfect. A trademark of all the Netflix Marvel shows.

Iron Fist Season 1 exclusively hits Netflix on March 17, 12:00a.m. PST.

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