Marvel’s Iron Fist Review: Stockholm Syndrome (Season 1 Episodes 1-3)

Iron Fist, Reviews

Let us first begin with the elephant in the room: Yes, Iron Fist carries a lot of internet baggage.

The impulse to immediately hate this show is a strong one with some legitimate cultural appropriation concerns to be addressed. Sitting through the pilot alone is an exercise in patience.

But by episode 3, like the famed Disney princess in a tale as old as time, I began warming up to my captor and see the beauty that lies underneath.

Iron Fist Season 1 Episode 1, “Snow Gives Way,” (which sounds more like a Blindspot anagram than a title, but okay) begins with a barefoot homeless man traipsing about Manhattan listening to OutKast’s “So Fresh, So Clean.” He suddenly looks up at a building and says to an NYC hot dog vendor—the usually congenial type—”that’s my building.” The vendor replies what we’re all thinking: “why don’t you sell it and get yourself some shoes?”

William Shakespeare could not have written the like! And it only gets better from there, folks. He casually strolls into a Fortune 500 building—as unkempt blonde dudes do—and asks to speak to the CEO, Harold Meachum.

Calmly, the receptionist calls security—as educated black women do—to come whoop less-charismatic-Tom-Hanks-from-Cast Away‘s ass. But what is this? Skinerva Minerva proceeds to ballet dance his way out of being caught and the receptionist just sits there like, “above my pay grade, bruh.”

While the choreography of that fight scene looked more like watching a third place college dance troupe, the problem in this scene lies beyond its aesthetic.

Danny Rand, upon introduction, is not as enigmatic as Matt Murdock/Daredevil, as endearingly off-putting as Jessica Jones, or as contemplative as Luke Cage. He just… is.

Finn Jones lacks the gravitas to play an orphan stranded on a mystical mountaintop for 15 years with the wisdom of a thousand years of kung fu mastery. Even when he threatens Ward Meachum, pointing a gun to his head, there’s never the sense that he’s doing anything more than pouting.

Like most men, Danny Rand (and, to that note, Finn Jones himself) seems indignant that no one acknowledges what an awesome guy he is, despite offering no supporting evidence.

Iron Fist expects to receive credit just for showing up. Unfortunately, when your predecessors are a visually disabled man, a woman, and a black man, all historically marginalized minorities, the ancient story of a rich, white billionaire has the flimsiest leg to stand on.

The second episode of Iron Fist Season 1 Episode 2, “Shadow Hawk Takes Flight,” isn’t any better. Danny spends the entire episode locked in quite possibly the most poorly run psychiatric hospital in existence and it’s honestly one of the most boring episodes of television that I literally fell asleep.

We’re shown over and over that Danny’s chi is blocked by the trauma of seeing his parents die. Like, a lot. We get it. He’s traumatized. There’s only so many ways to show Martha Wayne’s pearls, and yet Iron Fist seems content with bludgeoning that poor horse.

But there is hope on the horizon.

Iron Fist Season 1 Episode 3, “Rolling Thunder Cannon Punch,” begins and suddenly, characters aren’t providing their intention directly through dialogue! There are lingering reaction shots! Jokes! Banter, even! Danny gets a haircut! Where was this Iron Fist two episodes ago?

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Marvel’s Iron Fist (courtesy Netflix)

Searching for the difference, I discover that Episode 3 is written by Quinton Peeples whereas the former two episodes were penned by the showrunner himself, Scott Buck.  And like Danny “unlocking his chi,” I am suddenly awakened.

It seems that Buck, a former writer on Dexter and Six Feet Under, and also currently showrunning Marvel’s Inhumans, has completely forgotten completely how to form characters with nuance and subtext, relying simply on basic dialogue to get from point A to point B just so he could sign out and make his way to the other side of the Marvel Studios lot.

Again, and I cannot stress this enough, episode 3 markedly improves on the whole boondoggle. Jeri Hogarth makes an appearance in all her sharky snarky glory and Madame Gao seethes from the shadows. Elsewhere, Joy proves why she’s really in charge of Rand Enterprises and Colleen signs a check that only her body can cash.

Hm. Maybe episode 3 is awesome better because they finally realized that the women in this show are their best asset. Let’s see if that’s a trend that holds.

Averaging ep. 3 with eps 1 and 2, I’ll deduce that this might actually be an okay ride. There was a little turbulence at the beginning and you have to pay for the in-flight snacks, but now we’ve leveled off at 30,000 feet and there are complimentary headph—I don’t know where I’m going with this metaphor.

Point is: Iron Fist? Not bad. Not great, but tolerable. Especially if you ignore the tons of baggage and skip episode 2. (I promise you, episode 2 is essential to the plot at all. AT. ALL.)

Focusing the Glow

  • Both Danny Rand and Finn Jones are Aries men. Aries men are trash. These are facts.
  • I’m not sure why OutKast was chosen for the opening scene; the lyrics don’t speak to the character and it doesn’t match the overall tone of the show. It was probably the last song Scott Buck listened to before he gave in to his Dave Matthews obsession and thought, “this is what the kids are listening to these days, right? The Out Casts! They’ll love it!”
  • Danny walks up to a random Asian person and immediately assumes they speak Mandarin. I promise you not a single person of color was involved in the crafting of this scene.
  • The pilot itself moves too fast. Give us some time to explore the world, yo.
  • As soon as Big Al shows up, I knew he was dead. Sad thing is, his death is meaningless. And I’m not speaking philosophically. I mean his character had no reason to exist in the first place.
  • Colleen keeps asking Danny to leave her studio and he won’t. You know how I know a man wrote this?
  • “Who sent you?” Idk, Danny. Maybe the guy who said he was going to kill you just five minutes ago? Just a guess.
  • Harold and Ward Meachum could pass for brothers.The actors themselves are only 14 years apart. I wonder if that’s a plot point or simply a testament to how poorly this show is cast.
  • I can know white men can just waltz through life, but the way Danny strolls in and out of this office building is…
  • How did he charge that 15-year-old iPod?
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Episode 2

  • Y’all just let patients lock themselves in with other patients? This whole hospital is a ticking class-action.
  • Colleen’s clearly got a chip on her shoulder, but without the nuance a good writer could provide, she simply comes off as mean.
  • Kyle the assistant deserves his own spin-off more than Danny Rand.
  • The scene where Harold takes off his belt and threatens to spank Kyle is more homoerotic than they were probably shooting for. You know how I know a straight man wrote this?

Episode 3– I’ve stopped taking notes, really

  • Is this Snow White coffin the reason why Harold and Ward look the same age?
  • “This episode should have come second.” The one note I highlighted.
  • All these guys wearing grey sweatpants is distracting.
  • Carrie-Anne!!
  • I’m glad he finally got that beard trimmed. It was giving me undue anxiety.
  • Say you’re in a dojo taking kung fu lessons with your friends and suddenly this white dude strolls in making demands and then starts beating on kids? Just imagine how that would look for a second because obviously the writers did not.
  • The women on this show are getting sh*t done.
  • I was hoping Danny would fall, honestly. Maybe the Iron Fist will get reincarnated into someone less annoying.

What did you think of episodes 1-3 of Iron Fist? Not as bad as critics are claiming or even worse than you’d imagined? Do you have a terrible experience with Aries men? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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[Total: 1    Average: 5/5]

 

Iron Fist is currently streaming on Netflix.

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James A. Windley, Writer, Virgo, Loaded couch potato. James' love of television began at the intersection when Saturday morning cartoons met to Xena: Warrior Princess syndications, and his head has been a mess ever since. He loves superheroes, drama (in life, not television), and misses when very special episodes were a thing.

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