Over the last week we’ve been seeing horrible review after horrible review for Marvel’s Iron Fist based on the six episodes that Netflix released to critics. Headlines read that Marvel had made their first misstep and that slow, boring and down right bad. It’s funny for me to say this, being that I basically review shows all the time, but I don’t listen to critics. I go into everything I watch with as much of an open mind as possible. With Iron Fist, I grew up a fan of the character and was looking forward to the series. I pushed the negative reviews aside and sat down to watch the series.
You owe it to yourself to do the same thing.
I’m four episodes in as of right now. 2/3rds of what the critics had seen and not only am I enjoying the series… I honestly can’t see where all the negativity came from. The series opens with the scene we’ve seen in the trailers of Danny Rand (Finn Jones) walking barefoot in New York and heading to his family business. Except he has been presumed dead for 15 years and his former childhood friends Ward Meachum (Tom Pelphrey) and Joy Meachum (Jessica Stroup) don’t believe its him, as you’d expect. He also befriends Colleen Wing (Jessica Henwick), who runs her own dojo.
The first four episodes focus on Danny’s return to the city and his efforts to reclaim who he is. It’s a very rough journey for him. He returns and no one believes him, and when he does get someone to believe him, they think he’s crazy. The character is a mix of naive wonder at returning after 15 years away and living in a very different lifestyle, and an underlying anger that seems to boil to the surface whenever he thinks about his mother and how she died. The character is still finding who he is while he carries the burden of being both Danny Rand and the Iron Fist.
Colleen’s character is a definite highlight in the series. She is a strong, intelligent woman who tries to live by the Bushido Code, but the realities of trying to run a dojo with very few clients… many of whom are kids off the streets she is trying to help. She gets pulled into Danny’s world, but her own world is a mess. And, like everyone else, she doesn’t believe Danny in the beginning any more than the Meachums do until she sees him fight. And even then there is distrust.
And then we come to the Meachums. These are three very interesting characters. All of them can bit when necessary and have a sense of morality that puts self preservation first most of the time. Ward appears to be the cut throat, no nonsense type that will do anything to protect his sister and his company, yet there is a moment in the fourth episode that he genuinely seems to either care for Danny or hate his father. Joy doesn’t seem to be afraid to get her hands dirty either, yet she also seems the most conflicted about what Danny’s return means. And then there is Harold Meachum (David Wenham) who is either another great Marvel / Netflix villain or one of the most tragic characters. He is compelling every time he’s on the screen and even after four episodes I’m not sure if I’m supposed to like him or hate him. At the moment it’s both.
There have been some good action scenes so far. Colleen gets quite a few good fight scenes already, I said when the first trailer dropped last summer that I thought she might be the break out character from the series and four episodes in I still believe that. Danny also gets a couple good fight scenes, including his own hallway fight with bonus elevator footage. There are some nice nods to the rest of the MCU including a reference to Daredevil and the Incident (The Chitauri attacking New York in the Avengers). Plus the Hand is mentioned pretty early on, we get shadowy appearances by Madame Gao (Wai Ching Ho) and the Steel Serpent logo. Plus there is the appearance of Jeri Hogarth (Carrie-Anne Moss) who has appeared in Jessica Jones and Daredevil but her role here is pretty much was it was in the comics… helping Danny get his company back.
But the best thing I can tell you about the series is this. I sat down to watch the first episode last night before going to bed. Halfway through the fourth episode, I forced myself to turn it off and get some sleep. Got up and finished the episode before sitting down to write this. For me, it’s a binge-worthy show and it fits in well with the other Netflix / Marvel series so far. And I’m very happy to have 9 more episodes to watch.
But don’t take my word for it, go judge for yourself.