Note: This is a first impressions preview of the first six episodes and should not be taken as a final review.
First off let me say I am a huge fan of the previous Netflix Marvel series, so my anticipation for this fourth adaptation was very high going in. After the initial Daredevil, focusing on one of the more recognisable characters in the Marvel universe, we were then introduced to two of the lesser knowns with Jessica Jones and Luke Cage. We now come to probably one of the least known in all of the comic giant’s library.
For those of you not in the know, Iron Fist follows the exploits of Danny Rand (Finn Jones), the young heir to the multi-billion dollar Rand Enterprises, returning home to New York (where else?) after being away for 15 years. Danny soon reveals after surviving the crash of his family’s private jet in the Himalayas, killing his mother and father, he was discovered by monks and raised as a warrior, ultimately becoming the Iron Fist, sworn enemy of the illusive Hand (introduced to us in Daredevil).
What becomes clear from the start is this feels very much like the previous Netflix offerings, very high production value, shot beautifully with a strong cast of actors. With Danny already the Iron Fist (named so because of his ability to focus his chi into one fist for incredible feats of strength) the story of Danny’s return is in full swing, leaving back story to broken pieces of flashback very much like its predecessors, allowing the viewer to connect the dots. However a lot of the backstory is repeated several times which can be frustrating when that time could be used more wisely to progress the main plot.
A small amount of research and it’s clear the story diverges from the comics slightly, creating an interesting dynamic between Danny and his childhood friends, brother and sister Ward and Joy Meachum (Tom Pelphrey & Jessica Stroup), who have taken over the running of Rand enterprises. Presumed dead for the past 15 years, they refuse to believe he is who he says he is, cautious of his controlling 51 percent of the company. At first intriguing, it’s a side plot that soon becomes monotonous as you wish for more from the battle with The Hand, and that takes too long to really get going in itself.
Fans of Game of Thrones will recognise Finn Jones as Loras Tyrell. Jones manages to give Danny the soft spoken sensitivity of a young boy lost in a world he no longer recognises trying to reconnect with those he left, yet still manages to convince in the moments of brutality. Easily likeable from the beginning, Danny comes across perfect in every way, which at times leaves a craving for a flaw in his character to make him fully rounded and believable. Daredevil became much more interesting when he showed a darker edge.
Iron Fist deals with action sequences comfortably, but never feels like it’s trying to outdo what has come before. There has been no uniquely shot fight scene like we were gifted early on in Daredevil’s first season, with its single take hallway punch-up. There is a promising set piece raising the stakes in episode six, with the addition of an interesting array of characters, so it certainly feels it’s heading in a more action orientated direction, but after what came before, it should have done much more sooner to raise its head above its sister shows.
Overall, first impressions of Iron Fist are satisfactory at best. There is no doubt potential there for the show to improve in later episodes, but whereas the other series managed to capture my undying attention early on, Iron Fist seems to be taking its time. Netflix and Marvel had upped their game with each adaptation, but in this case it may have taken a slight step back. That’s not to say all is lost as this is still an enjoyable watch, but it just didn’t quite match my anticipation with its first half.