DISCLAIMER: I have no prior knowledge of Ironfist’s powers or story arcs spare one passing reference in Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files. I will also try to keep spoilers to an absolute minimum, but I am only human. ON WITH THE REVIEW!!!
Marvel have been on an absolute roll recently. The movie franchise/universe, whatever you want to call it, is expanding every year and getting better and better as it goes. Daredevil was the first of the Marvel Netflix series to be revealed, briefly reminding everyone of that god awful movie, but all fears were quickly dismissed when the first trailers came out. The Devil of Hell’s Kitchen brought with him a unique and brutal fighting style, immaculately captured and brilliant to watch. Sure the story wasn’t great but it was engrossing and set the stage rather nicely.
Iron Fist follows the story of Danny Rand, heir to a billionaire fortune assumed dead after his family jet crashed in the Himalayas 15 years ago. Danny being the only survivor of the crash gets taken in by the mysterious monks of K’un Lun. We’re introduced to Danny as a barefoot wanderer, having fled K’un Lun to reclaim his family name, fortune and find answers to what happened all those years ago.
It’s not all sunshine and rainbows for our bright-eyed and bushy-tailed hero, finding his childhood friends Joy and Ward Meachum running the show, now that their father has also passed on, they greet him with less than open arms. Things progress to get ever more complex for the Immortal Ironfist himself from here.
Finn Jones’ portrayal of Rand is fantastic, walking a fine line between the emotionally vulnerable and sheltered child and the unshakeable badass that harnasses the immense power of Shun-Lao brilliantly. To see any other character pinball between the two states would be infuriating but I feel Iron Fist makes it work. The conflicting duality of Danny’s character is what makes him great. There’s a particularly notable moment when showing off a kata in Colleen Wing’s Dojo, one of the students mocks him at the end and Danny lashes out like an angry child. Growing up surrounded by the warrior monks where such things would be honoured and respected, the naive Danny expected to be extended the same respect here in the real world.
The pieces of Danny’s shattered and sheltered past come together build to reveal itself in time, progressing steadily with the plot which is great. The pacing is fantastic, it’s a little slow to start but once it gets going it’s impossible to stop. Some of the early scenes in the series are the most powerful, especially while Danny battles to convince people he is who he says he is. The placing of the patchy flashbacks helps add to the air of mystery surrounding everything about the force of the Ironfist and K’un Lun that Danny mentions so often. Admittedly it’s pretty dumb that he’s surprised when someone mentions him being the Ironfist, he isn’t exactly secretive about it, but again it reflects how trusting he is despite everything.
Not only is Jones a great choice (despite the controversy), the rest of the cast are fantastic too. David Wenham playing Harold Meachum brings just the right amount of creeepy and controlling to the show, think a less psychotic Kilgrave from Jessica Jones. Tom Phelphrey is just as great as Ward, doing all he can to save his own ass and to hell with the consequences. Joy starts off great and then becomes a bit bland in the middle, then finally finishing strongly, giving an interesting twist to Rand’s next appearance.
When it comes to the combat Iron Fist doesn’t disappoint. The fight scenes are beautifully shot and blend the brutal efficiency of Dare Devil with the delicate elegance of kung fu. Obviously with a martial arts focused series they have to be executed just right and the series really nails it. The fights are powerful and brilliantly delivered, there’s not a shaky cam to be seen. Being able to follow a lightning fast flurry of moves and activity is great! What makes it better is that the force of the Ironfist isn’t used at every given opportunity, Danny doesn’t just start lamping everyone with his luminescent fist and ending things before they begin. It’s used sparingly and adds to the weight behind it, unlike Luke Cage and his unbreakable nature. Watching Luke wade into an impeding shit-storm is fun the cool at first but it gets a little old, the release of the Ironfist in its short bursts works in its favour.
Something I’ve neglected to mention, the soundtrack. The soundtrack to the series is utilised perfectly. Featuring some uniquely composed tracks specifically for the series and some pretty funktastic hip hop, there’s never a bad moment. The show introduces a dirty and disheveled looking Danny Rand listening to “So Clean, So Fresh” by Outkast, and similar tracks make their way throughout. Even the use of some surprisingly heavy tracks while Danny performs his morning Tai Chi routines, they illustrate a cool little culture clash between the billionaire and the quiet monk.
All in all, Iron Fist comes together to make a really interesting and well delivered series. Sure it’s a little different to the rest but that’s what makes it great, it’s off the beaten path. It does try to add in a little corporate drama that feels a little out-of-place, but it’s blended pretty well into the main plot of the Ironfist that it’s not too bad. Aside from that, it’s a thoroughly enjoyable series, it delivers everything you’d expect and provides a solid base to bring together the Defenders further down the line. He might be the last of the Defenders to grace ou screens, but he’s by no means the least!
As I’ve said, I know nothing of how Ironfist is “supposed to go”, but I feel this is a great addition to the Marvel Cinematic/TV universe, go into it with an open mind and you’ll have a great time!