By Nolan P. Smith
When it was announced that Marvel would be bringing a slew of series to Netflix, with the plan of leading up to a Defenders series, which would unite all the heroes, I was ecstatic. Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage have all been good series, with some being notably better than others. With Iron Fist, the last Defender surfaces amidst a barrage of controversy. Does K’un Lun’s champion stand tall in the hall of heroes? Or is the Iron Fist more of a Nerf slap?
Starring Finn Jones (Game of Thrones), the 13 episode series follows Danny Rand, the lone survivor of a plane crash that took his mom and dad 15 years ago. Danny comes back to New York to a very different world in 2017. A very different company than his dad founded with his old friends Joy (Jessica Stroup) and Ward Meachum (Tom Pelphrey) now running the business. But adjusting to the world is just one of the problems Danny faces, as he get committed to a mental institution, faces ghosts from his past, as well as the ever-present crime organization known as The Hand.
Oh, and Danny spent those 15 years he was gone learning kung-fu from Monks in the Himalayas, where he became the protector of K’un Lun, a mystical city of Heaven, complete with the ability to channel his chi into his fist into a, making for a, wait for it, Iron Fist.
The season got off to a slow start, establishing Danny as more of a homeless hippie than martial arts master. But business picks up big time as Danny transitions from lost poor man to lost billionaire as the majority stakeholder of Rand Corporation. Danny has few allies he can count on, but the ones he has can kick all sorts of ass, like Colleen Wing (Jessica Henwick), who runs a dojo and fights in illegal street fights on the side.
The series does a great job of connecting to the Netflix Marvel Universe, with several hints and Easter eggs thrown in, including the addition of Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson) and Jeri Hogarth (Carrie-Anne Moss). Plus, the clues that lead up to the rest of the Defenders, like a letter to Claire from Carl Lucas, the private eye hired by Joy Meachum, the mention of the devil of Hell’s Kitchen and so on.
The major gripes for me regarding the series is the somewhat slow build in the plot, as well as a non-ninja attired version of The Hand. However, the pluses far outweigh the minuses, including the inclusion of many characters in the Marvel mythos, like Davos (Sacha Dhawan), the Bride of Nine Spiders (Jane Kim) and more. For me, the series ranks high on the list of Netflix Marvel series, just below the two Daredevil seasons. Iron Fist does a fantastic job of tying in the legacy of the Iron Fist and his mystical roots, and even gives us a glimpse a former Iron Fist from the 1940’s, who may or may not be Orson Randle, another Iron Fist featured in the pages of Marvel Comics.
Iron Fist wasn’t as dark as Daredevil or Jessica Jones, and that’s ok. It had it’s own, addicting feel that had me binge watching episodes whenever I had the chance. I highly recommend watching the 13 episode series, and get ready for the Defenders this summer.
Rating: 9.5 out of 10.