For a show that has been so marred by controversy, one would hope that the quality of the premiere episode of Iron Fist would be great enough to convince naysayers to back off. Alas, this is not the case.
Danny Rand’s Iron Fist is arguably the weakest of The Defenders in terms of story and just general popularity. And, whether due to the general weakness of the character to start with, the premiere episode of Iron Fist is dull and predictable
The majority of the episode focuses on Danny Rand’s origin story. His origin story is nothing new in the comic book genre. When Danny Rand was 10, he went on a vacation with his parents. As fate and the airplane gods would have it, the flight crashed somewhere in the Himalayan mountains. Of course, Danny is the only survivor. Monks take the young boy in and train him in the ways of their mystical powers of Chi wielding, preparing him as another warrior to help defeat the Hand.
Enter white guy saved and trained to be a mystical badass by Asian warriors trope.
Flash forward 15 years later, where we meet a now grown up Danny Rand (Finn Jones) walking around the streets of New York barefoot on a mission, a mission to reclaim Rand Enterprises. However, in a completely cocky future superhero way, he strolls into the company’s office and demands it be turned over to him. Because, yeah, that’s TOTALLY going to get you your company back, Bub!
In one of the most arguably lazy fighting scenes, he starts beating up the security guards. Eventually, he is escorted out of the building with much grumbling. Considering that this series takes place in the 21st Century, I am completely baffled that the monks who trained Danny wouldn’t have installed some sense of manners or whatever into him as a child. However, the character Danny Rand is a trope. I can’t expect much out of a character that is a living privileged rich white male trained by Asians to become a badass warrior trope.
The only redeemable factor for this episode and, honestly, the only reason why I am watching this series is for Colleen Wing (Jessica Henwick). Danny meets her in a park where she is hanging up signs to advertise her martial arts studio. However, he makes a really bad language faux pas and starts talking to her in Mandarin. Because, you know, all Asian people speak Chinese, right?
Let it be known I cringed a lot during this particular segment for all of the various reasons why Danny Rand doing this was wrong. That could be an article all on itself though.
Thankfully, Colleen cuts him off and tells him to only speak to her in English or Japanese. The next time they meet is when Danny comes to her to ask for a job. Of course, she turns him down. Although her character is just being introduced, the energy and charisma that Jessica Henwick has installed into Colleen makes watching her so enjoyable. I really look forward to seeing her character development.
The weird part of this episode surrounds the introduction of the new owners of Rand Enterprises, Danny’s childhood friends Ward and Joy Meachum (Tom Pelphrey and Jessica Stroup). Of course, when Danny comes barging in and demanding his company back, they don’t give in. Everything seems legit with them but, as we know from watching previous Marvel/Netflix shows, not everything is as it seems.
Even though they were all childhood friends, Danny and the Meachum siblings obviously had issues. Joy straight up ignores Danny the next time they meet. Danny turns to Ward, but that eventually turns dark pretty quickly. Ward denies it, but Danny calls out Ward for bullying him as a kid. Yeah, these childhood friends don’t seem like friends to me.
In a “surprise” twist, we find out that the Meachum siblings’ father Harold (David Wenham) is actually alive when it was earlier revealed to Danny that he was dead. Gee, let’s just insert another trope in here shall we? Surprise plot twist is not a surprise. A plan is devised to have Danny Rand committed to a psychiatric hospital.
This is the weird part that I mentioned earlier. For an episode that really started off dull, throwing this surprise drugging and forceful psychiatric commitment towards the end of the episode really does nothing except cause confusion. It also seems like a cheap writing tactic to show us who the villains are in Iron Fist.
Overall, I am baffled by this premiere episode. As an audience member I can’t answer the question of, “Why should I care about Danny Rand? What is the relevance of this series?” The tone is unclear and the first episode was riddled with so many tropes that I lost count. And the ending of the episode with the forceful commitment threw the tone completely off kilter.
I am going to give this series the benefit of the doubt for now and see where the writers decide to take us. But, as of now, I am thinking the critics may be right in that this may be the first Marvel/Netflix dud.