Marvel’s Iron Fist
Season 1, Episode 1: “Snow Gives Way”
The Last Defender Emerges.
Finally, with the release of Iron Fist, we now have all the Defenders in place, ripe for assembling. Still, what remains unknown is how Iron Fist will stack up to the rest of his future teammates’ solo series. Let’s dive into Iron Fist season one premier “Snow Give Way” as the story of Danny Rand unfolds in this live action debut.
Danny is back in Manhattan and he wants…answers.
He’s shoeless, sporting a gnarly beard, and is blissfully unaware of the inherent difficulty in his current endeavor. First, I’d like to point out the fact that Outkast playing on an Ipod classic really lands a hit in the nostalgic sweet spot. A couple questions though on the opening scenes: Did Danny really not have another plan for explaining where he’s been for the last 15 years or another way of proving that he is who he says he is? Danny does come off as pretty naive but it doesn’t make much sense for anyone to think his plan would’ve worked. The naivety is intentional, I’m sure, but it’s still pretty heavy handed. That said, I really found Finn Jones’ Danny Rand endearing. Ya know? It’s kind of a nice change of pace to see such an optimistic superhero protagonist. He is a glass half-full kinda guy, so much so, I can forgive that he thought by just strolling back into his father’s company he’d receive the “prodigal son returns” treatment. He clearly hasn’t watched any of the other Marvel Netflix shows: nothing’s ever that easy. It’s actually fitting that he’s promptly removed from the premises. But herein lies my biggest struggle with the episode: that’s literally the only real story beat. A majority of the episode was essentially a big montage of Danny attempting to get people to believe that he is Danny Rand. Of course we do meet Colleen Wing and the Meachums, but this episode is essentially Danny telling people that he is Danny Rand.
Since this plot gets a great deal of time, I have to wonder, how hard is it to recall a close friend from 15 years ago? Maybe it’s just me but it can’t be that difficult, can it? Sure, you’re allowed a couple spit takes and yes, you’d need to confirm specific details from the past and I guess yeah, they were pretty young when Danny went missing. Ugh, okay fine, clearly the fact that he was pronounced dead doesn’t help my argument, either. Really it’s just that I have this pet peeve about stories when the audience is presented with a fact and then the protagonist is given the job of convincing other characters of said fact’s validity. I know it’s a storytelling device that sometimes can play well but it’s particularly annoying for me when it’s the main focus of the plot. The fact here is clearly that hobo Danny is actually the real Danny Rand. We the viewers know that and Danny knows that but the episode dedicates so much time trying to convince its other characters of that fact that honestly, it gets a little old.
Nevertheless, the belaboring of this plot point does prevail in “Snow Gives Way.” Danny has to learn the hard way that Joy and particularly Ward have no intention of entertaining the notion that he is who he says he is. I actually think Ward knows by the end since the parking garage sequence is pretty effective in my opinion, at least it definitely struck a nerve. Harold seems to be the most sensible Meachum on this matter, proving why he probably is still in charge. Listening to Harold’s advice is probably the only smart business decision Ward has ever made. Harold is way more insightful about the Danny Rand problem but likely has an ulterior motive for wanting to actually figure out the truth of his identity.
So the Meachums. They really are just your classic corporate bad guys. Especially Ward, that guy’s a piece of work. Everyone knows you don’t desecrate a Monopoly board like that. His character is incredibly one dimensional; he’s like the d-bag the girl in a romantic comedy is about to marry until the lovable screw-up shows up to win her back. He is essentially who you imagine your high school bully grows up to become (definitely not asserting my own personal experiences here…). Harold Meachum, turns out, is still alive after faking his death for some reason (you’d think Ward would be a little more sympathetic to the not actually dead). He apparently now leads Rand Enterprises from the shadowy penthouse with Secretary Kyle. The introduction to Kyle provided some much needed levity in the episode. Here’s hoping there’s more where that came from. Joy seems to be the only Meachum that has some heartstrings to pull. That back stab at the end was pretty decisive, though. How deep is she into the dark side of Rand?
Colleen Wing makes her live action debut. She doesn’t get much time here but it is established that she’s not someone to be messed with. She is super charitable, however those toe split shoes are not cheap (trust me I’ve looked). I will be interested to see how they build a strong relationship between the two since their introduction in this premiere is so incidental.
My overall impression of the season premiere of Iron Fist is a resounding..meh. It’s not terrible, but there’s not much to rest your hat on in this episode. Finn Jones’ portrayal of Danny Rand is just, o-k. Nothing spectacular about the rest of the cast either, really. I will step back and let the characters have room to breathe before I come down too hard on them, though. The writing in this episode doesn’t do anyone any favors either. The action was also little muted. As I noted in the preview post, the fighting has to be a key element and this episode has got me worried on that front.
Of the very few plots being established early in the season, one of the more promising characters is Harold Meachum. You know exactly what you’re going to get with Ward, but Harold actually is set up to be an interesting villain. I will be particularly interested to see where his story goes. If for nothing else, to see him riff with Kyle the secretary some more is well worth the screen time.
I also really enjoyed the sprinkling of Iron Fist lore throughout the episode. I bulked up on Iron Fist knowledge prepping for this show, so hearing Lei Kung the Thunderer and Shao Lao the Undying gives me hope for this series. The more they lean into the mystical elements of the Iron Fist origin, the better off it’ll be.