Marvel’s The Defenders is being released on Netflix soon. So do you need to watch Iron Fist first?
With Netflix not only dropping a quick teaser for The Defenders, but also a release date for the upcoming superhero series (18th of August 2017), the time has come for the people to get prepared for what looks to be something unforgettable. Unfortunately, there are some who feel that to properly appreciate The Defenders they need to first watch Iron Fist, and boy is it a cluster fuck.
Iron Fist has a lot of issues. It is without a doubt the worst of any of the other Netflix Marvel Properties (Daredevil Seasons 1 & 2, Jessica Jones & Luke Cage). And from what I’ve read, a lot of people are deterred from actually watching the show, mainly because they’ve heard how truly awful it is. What’s worse, some of my friends actually forced themselves to go through all 13 gruelling episodes just so they don’t go into The Defenders without a clue of what’s happening.
And that’s where I come in. I’m going to make sure that you don’t have to suffer through 13 hours of CW level television. I’m going to make sure that you still have some idea of what’s going on before you go into The Defenders. I’m going to steal the Declaration of Independence! But what I’m actually going to do is give you a rundown of what happened throughout the series and give you a quick review on Iron Fist. Yes, I am a martyr. Obviously going to slap a big ‘spoilers warning’ here, but that’s why you’re reading right?
So what is Netflix’s Iron Fist about?
Danny Rand, the son and heir of a corporate giant, returns to New York after everyone believes that he and his family died in a plane crash over the Himalayas 15 years prior. Returning to his family’s building, Danny presumes that ‘Rand Enterprises’ will be run by his father’s best friend and business partner, Harold Meachum (David Wenham). But apparently Harold is dead and his children, Danny’s once best friends, are running ‘Rand’. To make things worse no one believes he’s really Danny Rand, and he gets rejected at every turn, because let’s just say he doesn’t look a million bucks.
After going to extreme measures to try and reach his former best friends, the ones who are running ‘Rand’ Ward (Tom Pelphrey) and Joy (Jessica Stroup), Danny ends up getting locked in a mental institute. While he’s at the institute he does end up proving his innocence and identity, which attracts the attention of Harold Meachum.
But wait, didn’t I just say he was dead? Well apparently not. Dun dun duuuun. He faked his own death and is still running Rand. Harold visits Danny when he’s high as a kite and discovers that Danny was living in a place called K’un-Lun and is the mystical ‘Iron Fist’, the Destroyer of ‘The Hand’.
For those who don’t know, ‘The Hand’ is an intimidating as fuck mystical ninja organisation. Daredevil did an amazing job at making them feel like a super-powerful criminal organisation who are actually pretty threatening. It looks like ‘The Hand’ will also be the main villains for The Defenders, which means that people will have to watch Iron Fist, right? Wrong!
Long story short, Danny escapes the psychiatric institute and ends up working with Harold to try to get rid of ‘The Hand’ from New York and from ‘Rand’, and does a lot of dumb shit along the way. During this time he meets, befriends and ‘knows’ (in a Biblical sense) Colleen Wing (Jessica Henwick), a kickass martial arts teacher who wants to help Danny get rid of ‘The Hand’ from New York.
Essentially we have our traditional ‘Hand’ fucking shit up in ‘Rand’, making it the most wretched hive for scum and villainy. Then we discover that there’s another sect of ‘The Hand’, who are apparently the real ‘Hand’ and want to take out these extremists that we know and love from Daredevil and the beginning of Iron Fist – the one run by Madame Gao (Wai Ching Ho).
The major reveal is when we discover that Colleen is part of this newly revealed ‘Hand’, where she’s instructed to pick out potential students, so they can join ‘The Hand’, who essentially give them a good education. That way ‘The Hand’ have influence all over the world, as their students become successful doctors, lawyers, politicians, giving ‘The Hand’ unlimited power. They’re also trained in Martial Arts.
The series boils down to Danny learning more skills about being the ‘Iron Fist’, as well as getting rid of both versions of ‘The Hand’ from ‘Rand’. There’s also some kung-fu, murder, and Danny failing his duty of being the ‘Iron Fist’, which involves either destroying ‘The Hand’ or protecting the gates of the K’un-Lun.
Iron Fist Review
Iron Fist wasted a beautiful opportunity. This show had so much potential and they just threw it away. All these Marvel Netflix shows are different in their own ways – they have very different ‘vibes’. Luke Cage had a very strong community aspect, trying to save the soul of Harlem. Jessica Jones dealt with superhero abilities like super-strength, flying, mind-control, but still managed to ground these supernatural themes. Daredevil dealt with Matt Murdock’s (Charlie Cox) internal conflicts in being Daredevil, solving intriguing mysteries, and finally setting up the Marvel Netflix Universe.
It looked like Iron Fist tried to take a little bit of all those things and fucked it up at every turn. I did not give a shit about the mystery in this show: discovering who was responsible for killing Danny’s family. I did not care about Danny’s internal struggle between being Danny Rand and the Iron Fist. It was infuriating that Danny did not grow as a character, and couldn’t decide to pursue violence or peace. Danny was frankly quite annoying. The real superstars were the supporting characters, from the likeable Colleen to the oppressed Ward to the crazy but ambitious Harold.
Also, did anyone else find it really funny that David Wenham’s character had a “my son is the biggest disappointment” complex? Because you know, in Lord of the Rings, David Wenham who played Faramir, his dad was the exact same? Okay, just me…
In any case, while each Netflix show tries to be original, Iron Fist just failed to perform. It’s incredibly frustrating because they could have had several episodes of him becoming the Iron Fist in K’un-Lun. Imagine how cool that could have been, to see how Danny became a man: How he was trained to be the ‘Iron Fist’; what it means to be the ‘Iron Fist’; how his rivalry with Davos ultimately blossomed into friendship. The fucking fight with Shou-Lao the “undying” dragon! THEY COULD HAVE SHOWED DANNY FIGHTING A DRAGON. WITH KUNG FU! AND THEY DIDN’T.
Now I can understand why that wasn’t the case – why they may have decided not to show Shou-Lao. Because, CGI is expensive. But showing K’un-Lun would be original! It would separate Danny from the rest of The Defenders. Because what we really got was a mix between Daredevil and Suits, and they did a piss-poor job of make the business aspects of Iron Fist intriguing (at least on Danny’s end).
So now you can watch The Defenders!
Iron Fist was pretty rubbish. But having said that, I’m still very excited to catch The Defenders this August. Hopefully this article will get you up to speed with what Iron Fist was so you don’t have to put yourself through 13 hours of rubbish television.