by Matt Sernaker (Managing Editor),
Over the last few years, Marvel and Netflix have teamed up to provide viewers with an impressive line-up of stories based in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. They have consistently proven their ability to take unknown B-list characters and raise them to new heights. After taking on Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage, Netflix is ready to release the full first season of Iron Fist, featuring cast members who will round out the team for the upcoming Defenders series. Who is Danny Rand, and what exactly is the purpose of the Iron Fist?
Minor Spoilers Ahead
Fifteen years ago, a tragic plane crash claimed the lives of the Rand Family. When Danny Rand makes an unexpected return to New York years later, he quickly learns that reclaiming his old life will be more challenging than expected. In an effort to restore his name and reconnect with the friends he left behind, Danny reaches out to Joy and Ward Meachum, who have inherited control of the Rand Corporation from their father. Their disbelief in his miraculous return causes Danny to seek out some assistance, and audiences are introduced to the martial artist Colleen Wing. Can Danny find a way to convince his friends that he is truly their family friend returned from the dead? What role does The Hand play in Danny’s return to the civilized world?
Iron Fist features Finn Jones (Game of Thrones) as Danny Rand/Iron Fist, Jessica Henwick (Game of Thrones) as Colleen Wing, Jessica Stroup (Ted) as Joy Meachum, and Tom Pelphrey (Banshee) as Ward Meachum. Of the main players, Henwick stands out as being the strongest. Wing has been a fantastic character in the comics, fans will be extremely pleased with her translation to the small screen. From what we have seen so far, her character seems to be the most badass character on the show. Jones comes in second to Henwick, as his take on Rand is slightly less compelling than the characters in his supporting cast. Having viewed the first six episodes of the season, it seems as though Jones does hit a groove, but for some viewers, it might take longer than desired. Rosario Dawson (Daredevil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones) also reprises her role as Claire Temple, acting as the connective tissue between the various Netflix series. Scott Buck (Dexter) acts as Executive Producer on the series.
In regards to the pilot, I will say that it was definitely the slowest and least interesting of any of the previous Netflix Marvel shows. I honestly disliked a majority of the characters by the end of the first episode, and I found the pacing to be challenging. I powered through the second episode, and by the end, I found myself intrigued by the cliffhanger. After the third episode, I was invested in Danny’s success. The show progressively managed to get stronger with each passing episode, and I think that if audiences can make it through a few, they will find the quality that they typically expect with these Marvel shows. It might take a bit longer than usual to get the ball rolling, but there seems to be a big payoff coming down the line.
On the surface, it would be easy to draw connections between Iron Fist and another superhero series: Arrow. While it might seem that these shows have some easy comparisons, Iron Fist quickly differentiates itself from the DC series. While Oliver returned home from his island exile with a mission and vigilante purpose, Danny truly wants to reclaim his name and reconnect with his past. While it seems they both went through a crucible, their ultimate purposes take the leads in different directions. Additionally, the focus on martial arts helps to set the series on an original path.
While I have expressed some frustrations, I wanted to clarify that I have still enjoyed the first few episodes enough to continue on with the rest of the series when it is fully released. There are a lot of callbacks to the previous Netflix series, and you can see that the universe is moving forward in some surprisingly good ways. If you need a good reason to tune in, it is any scene featuring Colleen Wing (hopefully she has a spin-off in her future). Viewers will ultimately make up their own minds on the show, but I believe that Iron Fist has a lot of potential, and I plan to stick around for the ride that is season one.
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