Smack It All Up // Iron Fist Season 1 Review

It took me quite some time to get to watching Iron Fist. While I wasn’t going to seriously believe all the bad reviews that floated around it premiere, they indeed influenced me to take the time. That reason, along with the one that the series was released while there was plenty to watch on regular basis, led to me watching the series only now, merely a month before “The Defenders” launch. After two weeks of daily episodes, I ended the series with two main conclusions: Iron Fist was, actually, pretty good and interesting; and I would love to see a second season (which is confirmed, yay!).

On the whole, Iron Fist’s main plot revolved around Danny’s struggle upon returning to New York after he was presumed dead for 15 years. Danny somehow survived the plane crush the supposedly killed him and his parents, and was found by 2 monks from K’un Lun, a Marvel mystical city which is based in the real Ku’n Lun mountains. Once he is back in New York, he faces several fights: owning back his place in Rand, as inherited by his father; finding people to trust in this seemingly new world; and fighting The Hand, the forever enemy of the Iron Fist.

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While is seems predicted and simple, the series manages to navigate between several arcs pretty confidently. It does that by using a tight cast, a great step in the perfect direction. The use of Hogarth, Clare and Gao as established characters eases us into familiar ground. The 4 series of Netflix/Marvel has a very clear path regarding their main character: Daredevil, the first, slowly learned to become the hero that he is. Jessica Jones, the second, was already in the middle of her battle when we first saw her. Luke Cage, the third, was partly established in Jessica Jones, and later chose to be a hero in his own terms. And lastly, Danny Rand is already “The Immortal Weapon” when we see him, he only needs to find his enemies.

I can understand where the bad reviewers came from. But Iron Fist is not that bad as it was painted. Luke Cage was deeply immerged with black motives and stereotypes, and it was pretty tough to watch as a white viewer. The pace was too slow at times, to the point where I took a long break mid-season. Daredevil’s first season was also slow-paced, and its second season added Electra’s arc and corrected some of the problems. The only series that was strong and thrilling throught its entire run was Jessica Jones, mostly thanks to the series’ PTSD vibe, and David Tennant. Iron Fist is somewhere in the middle.

In his search after revenge, Danny wants to find and destroy whoever is responsible for his parents’ death. It was clear from the beginning, and Danny admits it almost too late, when the anger almost entirely consumed him. At first Ward was the enemy, then Gao, then Bakuto, and lastly, Harold Meachum was the series’ big bad.

During Danny’s story, we meet Colleen Wing, a troubled martial arts instructor, who quickly learns to trust and help Danny. But she wasn’t entirely honest, as she was also working with Bakuto’s Hand, the seemingly good part of the organiztion. When she finds out no Hand is good, she turns back to Danny’s side. By the series end, he also invites her to return to K’un Lun with him. I liked Jessica Henwick‘s portrayal of Colleen a lot.

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Ward and Joy Meachum are mostky plot mechanisms. They are always caught in the middle, divided between helping Danny or helping their father. Their loyalties differ, and they are revealed as complicated characters as well. Ward struggled with his pills addiction, and Joy with her loss of father figure (Ward was a poor replacement). When Ward killed his father, with a 15 years worth of rage, I was sure Harold would come back. After all, The Hand are involved. His growing evil was the true reason for everyone to get rid of him, though it seems Joy was pushed a bit too far, as she now conspires with Davos, against Danny. David Wenham‘s Harold was a delight: truely evil, truely manipulating, a perfect scheme master.

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Davos was another plot device: A help for Danny when he needed it, but also a reminder of his true purpose, when he didn’t need it. If he would have returned to K’un Lun, it would have crumbled his entire purpose, so thankfully he stayed around. Gao will go on to being one if the antagonists in The Defenders, surely something related to Sigourney Weaver’s big bad.

Finn Jones may have not been perfect as a series leader, but his portrayal of the troubled, childish and revengeful Danny Rand was surprisingly good, and I enjoyed it.

Now, it’s time for The Defenders, coming August 18! Also, don’t listen to judging first reviews. They can be misleading.

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