NOTE: This article contains SPOILERS for Iron Fist #1 & #2
Andrew Dyce writes: It may have been instantly branded as the worst Marvel show on Netflix, but defenders of Iron Fist came to its defense, reminding everyone that telling a “great Iron Fist story” isn’t exactly easy. It’s a fair argument… at least, it would be if Marvel Comics didn’t immediately begin to tell exactly that. Not just a compelling, unorthodox story following the immortal Iron Fist, Danny Rand, and not just a story built to please fans of classic kung fu adventures. But in short, the kind of story that Netflix’s Iron Fist series really should have been if the studio wanted to make it in any way memorable.
To be clear, this isn’t a case of critics or ‘haters’ sitting through Iron Fist and turning to the expansive world of Marvel Comics to claim that a Heroes For Hire series would’ve been better (although that’s a seriously promising idea). Even for those who thought Iron Fist wasn’t actually bad, Marvel’s new Iron Fist series begins Danny’s story in a fascinating place, giving him unique challenges and motivations, an unexpected mission among the rest of the Defenders origin stories, and – most importantly – more martial arts action than fans could ever hope for.
Danny Rand is Looking For a Fight
The Netflix series did give Iron Fist some memorable moments, but started things on an odd foot. The idea of a millionaire heir returning from the dead to reclaim his empire isn’t exactly a groundbreaking notion… it’s actually the first clue that Iron Fist was weirdly copying Arrow. But aside from the playful comparisons, it was a missed opportunity to begin Danny’s story in a more interesting place for the audience. From one point of view, it’s beginning his story after the exciting things have happened. That idea isn’t devoid of potential, but how to capitalize on that potential is far better demonstrated in Iron Fist #1 from writer Ed Brisson and artist Mike Perkins and Andy Troy.
Issue #1 opens with Danny – a completely unknown figure to the reader (aside from those familiar with the character, obviously) – stepping up to compete in an underground, bare knuckle boxing tournament. Putting forward the cash needed for entry, and taking in the enormous, intimidating, musclebound, or murderous fighters, Danny claims he wishes to fight every one of them. A deceptively small, Caucasian male stepping into this arena sends all the messages it’s supposed to with a cold open. The one thing Danny has going for him is a death wish.
An American steps into a Bulgarian fighting pit. Puts up $1,000,000 to fight everyone present. Defeats ever single one of them in a smash-cut of fists and feet. And as an unknown man watches intently from the shadows, Danny reveals that he came in search of something. But whatever that is… he didn’t find it here. It’s the kind of opening that sells a comic book arc, every bit as well as it would sell a TV series or film. A protagonist with surprising gifts, uncommon traits, and a clear motivation that the viewers is not yet privy to. Most importantly, in contrast to the Netflix series, it establishes that Danny’s martial arts skills aren’t just thrilling or accomplished – they’re somewhat insignificant.
He’s deadly, sure. But he doesn’t enjoy it. In fact, he’s so dangerous, the fights themselves aren’t the point of his story. So with the audience nibbling at the bait, it’s time for Brisson to set the hook.
What Danny’s Really Looking For
There are some aspects of the Iron Fist series that nearly everyone would concede fell short, for reasons that, while disappointing, are understandable. The martial arts scenes and fight choreography were lacking, but the cast and crew did the best they could with sometimes just minutes to rehearse an Iron Fist battle. But they only wound up with that problem because the premise meant Danny Rand should be, by the time we meet him, an unparalleled fighter. That’s a hard sell with months of preparation and rehearsal. Not to mention the fact that. … (read more)
Read the full review at screenrant.com
[Also see our exclusive review of Netflix-Marvel’s new Iron Fist]