As we draw closer to the release of my next Netflix addiction, let’s go over what we can look forward to with Marvel’s Iron Fist and what we should be worried about.
Full disclosure- I wasn’t all that familiar with the Iron Fist when these shows were first announced, but I have since done my homework on our young Danny Rand and I can say with confidence he will make a great addition to the Defenders. There’s a wealth of stories that can be woven into the fabric of what’s getting established within this universe, particularly with the team they’ve assembled. There’s a lot of history from the comics to pull and draw from for the Defenders and some interesting stories specifically with the Iron Fist. During Marvel Comic’s Civil War event, he actually suited up as Daredevil to keep Matt Murdock’s cover from getting blown. Iron Fist also has appeared frequently with his partner/bff Luke Cage in the “Power Man and the Iron Fist” series, as well as the “Heroes for Hire” series. Now, I have been a dutifully invested and committed rumor junkie, high on Marvel’s Netflix content since Daredevil’s first season (some would say to my own detriment). I’ve spent the off season rooting out potential leaks or info on the Netflix MCU, which is pretty scarce between seasons. They really keep a lid on things. It’s been a tough haul for this series, in particular, with early rumors of it getting dropped from the roster all together. But I have to say, the release of the first full trailer for this show has my hype levels dialed up and my body’s default setting stuck on Ready.
Now to be fair, I’m predisposed to enjoy this series based on its inclusion into the greater universe being set up here for the eventual Defenders team up. But the trailer looks great! As I said, I’ve been completely immersed in the lore of the Iron Fist and so I knew the take on the origin was going to be somewhat different for the Netflix series (there’s a ton of magical elements that don’t jive with the Netflix gritty street level realism). That being said, Danny Rand seems on point with what I’ve learned about him and the series itself feels like it will follow a somewhat lighter-hearted vibe. Having Danny stroll up to the receptionist at Rand Corp. and politely state “Hi, I’m Danny Rand…I’ve been away for a while”, then promptly getting grabbed by security gives you a sense for the different kind of tone Iron Fist is going to embrace.
Why Different Is Better…
As we progress through the Netflix MCU, each Defender brings a certain je ne sais quoi to the mix. With Daredevil we got the gritty vigilante with a moral code, Jessica Jones gave us the gruff noir detective with a heart of gold sort of vibe, Luke Cage’s story emanates a reluctant hero’s call to arms, and now we have Iron Fist. Tonally, it has yet to be fully defined in summaries and interviews, but I believe what will bear out is the story of a wet behind the ears hero eager to make things right and follow his destiny. What excites me most about this prospect is that we will get a more hopeful and buoyant character in Finn Jones’ Danny Rand. That is not to say, I believe that the rest of the gang are all a big pity party, but…they kind of are (looking at you, Jessica). And of course, there have been moments of levity in all the series so far, but Danny is a character that is already at a point in his story where we won’t be dealing with as much emotional baggage and heavy themes as we have with the rest of the team.
Getting to the Point
Here’s what I’m really hoping to see from Iron Fist.
First and foremost I need to see prestige fighting choreography. As far as the subject matter, the Iron Fist is by all accounts Marvel’s premier martial artist, save for a very few notable characters and even they are up for debate. Early scene description regarding the choreography gives me hope that the team is very cognizant of the need to be authentic to the character in this regard. Based on clips from the trailer, we will be getting another, now seemingly mandatory, hallway fight scene, so it’s safe to say they’ve paid close attention to Daredevil, who has set the bar high for what we should expect in Iron Fist. In part due to Daredevil, I sincerely doubt this is an area we’ll need to worry about…is something I would’ve said before seeing the released clip of Jessica Henwick’s Colleen Wing in a cage fight.
The editing department seemingly phoned it in on this one. The punching sound effects felt like they came right out of a ‘90s Power Rangers episode. Also, the scene editing seemed clunky and it all flowed together awkwardly. I’ll reserve my full judgement, as I can understand that maybe this isn’t the final product, but it is troubling that they’d release such a weird cut.
Madam Gao’s ominous presence in the trailer lets us know that we can expect to see an expansion of her character in Iron Fist and possibly a proper introduction to the Steel Serpent. In the trailer you can catch a glimpse of someone holding up the Steel Serpent wingless dragon symbol. For those keeping score, we saw this same symbol in Daredevil season one when Daredevil busts up Madam Gao’s heroin ring. A couple things here: what is the Steel Serpent and what does it have to do with Gao’s character? Well, the Steel Serpent is somewhat of an arch nemesis from the Iron Fist comics. I don’t want to get too in the weeds with this before the season debuts, but essentially the Steel Serpent is of the same sort of power source that the Iron Fist is; only it dwells within the city of K’un-Zi, one of the mystical cities of the Iron Fist lore. There are actually seven mystical cities that harbor these “immortal weapons,” like that of the titular Iron Fist of K’un L’un. What will be most interesting to me is finding out exactly how connected Madam Gao is to K’un-Zi and to what extent she is involved with the Immortal Weapon of the Steel Serpent? Also, will anyone wield the power of the Steel Serpent and challenge Danny? I hope this plot plays a big role in the story as season one unfolds.
It’s All Connected…
Let’s not forget that this will be the last stand alone series before we get the full team-up mini-series and the connections to the other Defenders seem to be everywhere in Iron Fist. As it stands, this addition into Marvel’s Netflix universe will be most inclusive in terms of characters from other series. Again, we’ll have the seemingly prominent role of Madam Gao from Daredevil. We will also see Jeri Hogarth from Jessica Jones, who will likely be the attorney that represents Rand Corp., if they plan on continuing the role her comic origin counterpart held. And of course, we will see the return of Rosario Dawson’s Claire Temple, AKA Night Nurse in full Nick Fury style. I can only hope she’ll be introduced into this series saying, “I’m Claire Temple, and I’m starting a team.” All joking aside, I am really excited to get to the Defenders and, based on the marketing of Iron Fist as the last Defender, I think this series will lay down some of the initial ground work for the reveal of the team’s ultimate threat.
The Power of the Iron Fist
One of the most critical things they need to nail in Iron Fist is, well, it’s the Iron Fist itself. The trailer gave us a glimpse at how powerful Danny will be. We know concrete walls won’t be a problem for him and it looks as if he was about to level an entire office floor by the end of the trailer. The Iron Fist is all about the mystical arts and all the magical elements that go along with its otherworldly nature. I mean, the city of K’un L’un is only even accessible on an earthly plain every 10 years, which is why Danny has been presumed dead in the time since his disappearance. The degree in which the show decides to lean into that realm of the Iron Fist will be of particular interest to me. Not that they necessarily have to meticulously focus on all the magical elements of the original story but I think they’d do well to not shy away from it completely. A general understanding of how Danny achieves the title of Iron Fist, what it means to carry the mantle, and how he manifests the chi to focus golden light into his fist are a few plot points I hope the show addresses in a meaningful way. Those beats are at the center of his abilities and really help define the kind of hero Danny will become.
Honestly, there’s a lot more to be hopeful about than not with this upcoming series. The choreography teams have been paying close attention to what worked in Daredevil. They’ve assembled a great crew of directors, including the RZA! RZA is an interesting pick since he’s not only a big fan of kung fu movies (I mean come on, Wu-Tang Clan) but he’s also written, directed and starred in his own kung fu flick called The Man with Iron Fists. They’ve also assembled a stellar cast. Finn Jones was brilliant in Game of Thrones and by all accounts is taking this role very serious but, only having only a short timeframe to prepare, I’m not sure they got Danny’s physique quite as defined as it should be. That’s a personal nitpick though! What’s really going to make or break this thing is the balance of story for the 13 episode format that Marvel Netflix shows are bound to. Every series so far has suffered most from having to spread out their material. The most recent releases of Daredevil and Luke Cage tried to correct this issue by essentially splitting a season into two distinct arcs. My only concern with that is that the latter half seems to struggle behind a strong opener. Let’s hope the show runners can strike the right balance in Iron Fist.
Anyways, is it March 17th yet?