Marvel’s The Iron Fist has finally been released on Netflix. The trope filled, cliché story line that has filled many American representations of Chinese culture has been revived with characters that more than make up for the retelling of familiar tales.
Actor Finn Jones plays Danny Rand, a boy who was presumed dead at age 10 after his parent’s plane crashed flying over the Himalayans mountains and survives after mysterious monks find Rand and train him to become a legendary fighter known as The Iron Fist.
Marvel has gotten lazy when telling the stories, especially ones with as many mystical properties as The Iron Fist has. Rand can somehow connect to the monastery and to the monks, but not all the time. It’s only half-way through the series we find out how he creates his iron fist or understand more of the legend. Marvel expects their audience to have watched the previous series’ of Daredevil and Luke Cage to understand the complex story they are trying to tell.
For as much thought that went into creating the mystery around the legend and the power, the story behind this mysterious monastery that saves and takes in Rand is left untouched, only mentioned through Rand’s retelling of his journey from boy to warrior.
Although Marvel’s expectations of their audience is a little presumptuous, the overlapping stories of the Marvel’s defenders is really something extraordinary. Having been a fan of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage, The Iron Fist has been a satisfying distraction. The overused tropes are made up for by the complex characters that arch and fall throughout the series. The audience is left not knowing who to cheer for and who to hate.
The black and white vision for his destiny Danny Rand has in the beginning of the series turns to a sloshy, messy gray that pushes through the themes of childhood, family, and trust. The writers of Danny Rand’s comic-to-show adaption did a wonderful job showing the themes in every character as each one tries to prove themselves without the shadow of the family while trying to find somewhere to belong.
The love story and rich families pull the story in all directions, but the show is steady in the main idea of where Danny will end up and who will be on what side. The end sticks to the comics and is wholly satisfying, even with a cliffhanger that leaves the audience wanting more without feeling as if they were cheated.
The supporting acting of Jessica Henwick, who plays the hot-tempered, nearly uncontrollable Colleen Wing, and Rosario Dawson, who fans of the Marvel series will know as the fierce Claire Temple make perfect partners to Rand for the hero side. Claire Temple gives the reality checks the show needs without being too much while Colleen Wing is a perfect mirror to Danny Rand.
The chemistry between all actors brings a different angle to a tired tale of American who stumbles into something exotic and mysterious that he does not understand. The culture isn’t lost. The controversy of whitewashing, while can be noticed, isn’t as aggressive and still gives a nod to the original lands from which the tale comes from.
Overall, The Iron Fist might not have packed a punch the way most Marvel shows have, but it still is a fighter and a fitting piece to the universe Netflix and Marvel has created.