I am consistently impressed by the quality of the Marvel series created for Netflix, and I’m happy to say that Marvel’s Iron Fist is yet another step toward what I can only expect will be a fantastic Defenders group show.
In this series, Finn Jones plays Danny Rand, thought deceased after his family died in a plane crash 15 years ago. Danny actually survived, and found himself in a place called K’un-Lun where he is trained to summon his chi and take on the power of the Iron Fist. Returning to New York, Danny finds that many don’t believe or at least don’t want to believe he is who he says he is, and at least on the onset, it seems everybody wants to kill him.
The best thing about the Marvel Netflix series, to me, is that they feel immersive. New York is a character in these shows, and the location shooting REALLY adds an extra element that makes for a superior product. Also interesting to me is that at this point, each of the Marvel Netflix shows has offered a different look at the world: Daredevil was set squarely in Hell’s Kitchen, where characters like Matt choose to be there to help those in need. Jessica Jones could exist in a higher-class world with friends like Trish, but seems to be more comfortable in the down-and-dirty. Luke Cage takes place in the seedier parts of Harlem. And then there’s this, where on the onset, Danny seems to want to reclaim his old life or a connection to the life he once had, but is still accepting of his situations. Each of the Marvel Netflix characters is informed by their past as to how they act in the present; Danny Rand, in his heart, still has his younger self within, and also, it seems, an inner goodness. Some, like Jessica Henwick‘s Colleen Wing and Jessica Stroup’s Joy Meachum, might see some of that. But damn, does Ward Meachum (Tom Pelphrey) deserve an iron fist to the mouth, though I have a feeling even he has some layers that will grow throughout the first season.
(Also, can I just say that I’m really looking forward to seeing the character dynamics when Danny Rand and Luke Cage first meet, and I totally would watch a show with Colleen Wing and Misty Knight?)
The other thing that impressed me about Iron Fist, beyond the cast and the setting, is that all of the characters seem to have layers. Bad guys aren’t just bad; they have reasons for being how they are. People question themselves and their decisions. Uneasy alliances might form. And best of all, as I said up above, I can’t wait to see how Danny interacts with the other Defenders that Marvel has introduced. As acclaimed as Marvel’s movies are, I think there’s something to be said for meeting characters and worlds that can breathe, and Iron Fist certainly does that, as the other series have. Some of the other Marvel-Netflix series have gotten criticism for padding to get to 13 episodes; as I have not seen the entire season of Marvel’s Iron Fist, I cannot speak to that. I will say we don’t see the power of the Iron Fist immediately, but once we do, it’s a big moment that will make you yell at your computer/TV/whatever it is you watch Netflix on. Iron Fist has a few of those “wins,” by the way, where you just are rooting for it. The stunts are as you’d expect if you enjoyed past Marvel and Netflix productions like Daredevil.
Finally, I know there was some controversy over casting a white man to play Danny Rand, which was always a bit absurd to me as Iron Fist was always a white man in the comic books. While I have no problem with updating characters for modern times and having diversity in casting — just ask Johnny Storm, Iris West, or Josie of the Pussycats — I feel like part of what makes Iron Fist stand out is that he *is* a white guy, trained in that culture, which I think is unexpected for most, including Colleen when they first meet. There is plenty of room for diversity in Iron Fist, but I don’t think “making Iron Fist Asian-American” was really the thing that was needed to do, and I believe once the show is seen by the masses, it will make more sense.
Marvel’s Iron Fist is executive produced by Scott Buck who manages to make a better Iron Fist show than I could have ever dreamed of. I think that’s the best part of this “world” and good TV in general; if it’s better than you envisioned, it’s a success. Buck is going to be running Marvel’s Inhumans later this year, and if the quality matches, it’s in good hands. Marvel’s Head of Television Jeph Loeb is also an EP and I can definitely sense his guidance and strong influence in these series, also seeing some people he’s worked with successfully in the past in the credits. Assembling the perfect set of Defenders had to be a challenge, but Loeb and his team have seemed to knock it out of the park 4 times out of 4 so far (5 out of 5 if you count both seasons of Daredevil).
Like Marvel’s Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage before it, thirteen episodes of Marvel’s Iron Fist will all drop at the same time — in this case, it will be released globally on March 17. And, yes, like the other Marvel Netflix shows, it has very well designed opening titles and a great score to set the mood.
Note: After browsing the Internet and seeing some not-so-nice Tweets, I see Iron Fist hasn’t been as warmly received by all critics. I still stand by this review; I liked it a lot. If I like something, I’m going to praise it. No apologies.)
You can read more about Iron Fist and see some preview photos and trailers at KSiteTV’s Marvel-Netflix portal, DaredevilTV.net.