Welcome to ScienceFiction.com’s review of Netflix’s highly anticipated ‘Iron Fist’ series! I know what you might be thinking, “highly anticipated? Has he seen the reviews?” Well yes I have, but let me remind you, this show was and is still highly anticipated by a lot of fans, and a handful of negative reviews right before the show premiered does not mean everyone in the world is suddenly anti-’Iron Fist,’ nor does it mean the show is not entertaining for anyone willing to look beyond the high-brows of certain critics and give it a genuine chance. Yes, they did not go with any kind of creative or diversity pleasing casting choice for the main character. Yes, they did not necessarily push the envelope the same way ‘Jessica Jones’ or ‘Luke Cage’ did in terms of social commentary or having an important message behind the show. But you know what, not every show is going to do that, and so far, I’ve enjoyed ‘Iron Fist’ for what it is, and I hope you can as well. It’s far from perfect, but its better than a lot of the junk out there on TV right now. It still takes place in the MCU and is a set-up for ‘The Defenders,’ and if you are a fan of the Netflix/ MCU world, I see no reason why you will not be able to find something to enjoy in ‘Iron Fist.’
Jumping in, this review will cover the first four episodes, titled ‘Snow Gives Way,’ ‘Shadow Hawk Takes Flight,’ ‘Rolling Thunder Cannon Punch,’ and ‘Eight Diagram Dragon Palm.’ The story starts simply enough with twenty-something Danny Rand returning to New York to take control of the family business after 15 years away, and we slowly learn that he has been gone all this time because he and his parents were in a plane crash that killed his family and left him stranded in what I think were the Himalayan Mountains, where he was found by some monks from the hidden monastery of K’un L’un (which supposedly exists in a dimension outside our own and can only be accessed once every 15 years). Long story short, while waiting for the path to return to Earth, Danny trained at the monastery to become a warrior and managed to become the greatest warrior there, earning the title “Iron Fist” and the powers that go with it, the ability to focus one’s chi to make their body stronger and faster (I think) and send a glowing light into one’s fist that makes it as strong as iron (that part I’m pretty sure about). Anyways, he comes home, finds the family company is being run by his old childhood friends Joy and Ward Meachum after their father (Danny’s father’s business partner, Harold) died of cancer shortly after the plane crash.
Long story short, while waiting for the path to return to Earth, Danny trained at the monastery to become a warrior and managed to become the greatest warrior there, earning the title “Iron Fist” and the powers that go with it, the ability to focus one’s chi to make their body stronger and faster (I think) and send a glowing light into one’s fist that makes it as strong as iron (that part I’m pretty sure about). Anyways, he comes home, finds the family company is being run by his old childhood friends Joy and Ward Meachum after their father (Danny’s father’s business partner, Harold) died of cancer shortly after the plane crash. Only problem is that Ward and Joy want nothing to do with this “Danny” and do not believe their old friend has come back to life, and end up sending him to an insane asylum to keep him quiet, for fear of the bad PR even a pretender Danny Rand could have on the company (it is called “Rand Industries” after all).
Eventually Danny escapes from the doctors and links up with lawyer Jeri Hogarth (crossing over from ‘Jessica Jones’ and ‘Daredevil’) who we learn interned at Rand Industries in her youth and liked Danny’s parents and helps him file a case to get his inheritance back from the Meachums, who continue to fight Danny despite his insistence on who he is, and confusion that his friends (and sole remaining “family”) would hurt him so.
Meanwhile Danny also meets a woman named Colleen Wing, who is also into martial arts and runs a dojo in town, and while she is none-too-friendly at first, he seems to take a liking to her and wants to help train her students, but she does not take him seriously since he has looked like a bum since returning to New York and even less so once she learns he was committed. Eventually she warms up to him and helps him prove who he really is to Joy Meachum, acting as a courier/messenger between her and Danny, even as she learns of his impressive martial arts skills while watching him fight off a group of men sent by Ward Meachum to rough up (or kill, I wasn’t really sure). We also learn her dojo is struggling to make ends meet and pay the rent, so Joy eventually makes her way to a fight club where she shows off her own fighting prowess taking down guys much larger than her under the moniker ‘Daughter of the Dragon,’ even though she knows she is sacrificing her honor and credibility participating in street fights. She also “kindly” lets Danny sleep on the floor of the dojo for a few nights, though she insists he use the bathroom at the gas station down the street, and gives him the advice to shower (and ostensibly shave) hinting that he was a little musky after all that time on the street.
Eventually, Joy (because she now believes Danny) provides the evidence needed to Jeri Hogarth of who Danny really is and it seems Danny is going to win in court, but not before another twist comes their way. For after the big reveal of the evidence, Danny follows Ward to a secret meeting at a Penthouse, where Danny is about to learn what we, the audience, have known for a while: that Ward is being directed by none other than Harold Meachum himself, a man who is still alive despite the cancer and his “death.”
Right as Danny is about to enter the Penthouse from an exterior window, Ward appears and pushes him off the ledge, and Danny falls, the cliffhanger for the third episode. When the fourth episode opens, we see Danny catch himself on a light post for the building, and collapse right below it, and then he awakens the next morning within the Penthouse and is confronted by Harold, who welcomes him, much to Ward’s chagrin, and explains everything. Harold apparently did have cancer and was about to die, when he was approached by the Hand (yep, THAT Hand) who offered him a deal, in exchange for his service, they would save him from death. He reluctantly accepted (supposedly), and he came back from death and the cancer, better than ever. Only catch was he was restricted to the Penthouse and no one could ever know he was alive, except for Ward who he could use to run the company. If anyone else ever found out he was alive the Hand would kill them, even Joy. Danny is happy that Harold is alive seeing it as more family back in his life and Harold orders Ward to give Danny what is owed him in the company, though Ward later warns Danny that Harold is only out for himself, and not to trust the man.
So Danny gets back into Rand with a controlling share, which he immediately uses to force the board to drop the cost of a new miracle drug to cost, saying no one should profit from saving lives, a decision which infuriates everyone, especially Ward and Joy. So Joy is tasked with keeping Danny busy, and they go out on a date of sorts, though it is more like old friends catching up, and he tells her about growing up in the monastery, though he makes it sound very harsh. Eventually their night is interrupted when Joy is attacked by a gang of hatch-wielding ninjas who Danny manages to fight off by himself (though she does get a punch or two in), ending with an awesome elevator fight.
He brings her to Colleen’s dojo for safety, where he learns about Colleen’s fighting in the street fights and resets a broken finger of hers, before asking his friends to look after each other so he can find out who sent the men after Joy. He finds the offending gang and learns they wanted to punish Joy for helping Rand Industries take the Red Pier from them, a deal Harold and Ward had been making for the Hand for the past few episodes and brought in Joy to close for them without her knowing why. When Danny mentions that the deal was made for the Hand, the gang backs down immediately in fear, and Danny realizes how serious the Hand situation has gotten in New York. He knows he has to deal with it, for as he told Harold earlier, the Iron Fist is the sworn enemy of the Hand and is destined to bring them down.
The episode closes with Danny receiving a cryptic message in his office, with a piece of paper emblazoned with the Iron Fist symbol on it, the same one that is on Danny’s chest. What exactly this means we are not yet sure, but the first four episodes definitely left plenty to be imagined and had enough going on, in my opinion, to warrant going further down the Iron Fist rabbit hole, and continue to enjoy the new series. I’ll admit that to start with it does not seem particularly groundbreaking and seems to be relying on some tropes from ‘Arrow’ and ‘Batman Begins,’ but I really like the cast (especially David Wenham) and it seems like they are just getting to the good action scenes, so I am excited to see where else they can go with the series. And even the glowing “iron fist” itself does not seem as wonky as it did in the trailer, especially when it is explained as coming from the chi and emanating from one’s own body, it makes a lot more sense why the effect works the way it does. I am definitely looking forward to the rest of the series – make sure to check back here soon for the next recap of episodes 5 – 8 of ‘Iron Fist!’