So, last week I finally got around to watching Iron Fist, Marvel’s most recent series on Netflix. The show came out to less than stellar reviews, and I must admit I was left feeling a bit underwhelmed. However, there are some things to praise about the show, and I want to talk about them.
For those who have not, but want to watch the series, turn away now. Spoilers below.
All right. So, let’s be honest here: Danny Rand is not a character you want to like. Every decision he makes is, from the very beginning onward, pretty much wrong on every level. The very first decision, to leave K’un L’un, at the beginning of the series ends with the place we was raised and trained undefended. The Hand, the shadow organization that the Iron Fist (a title and power Rand has) is supposed to defend the secret realm from, attacked in his absence.
He’s also so incredibly whiny about everything that I can’t even listen to his moral speeches, which are supposed to be the hero’s defining ideologies.
His girlfriend, Colleen Wing, is so prone to rushing headfirst into stupid decisions that she actually has a thought process that goes “No, you can’t kill someone. It’s wrong. So I’m going to do it.” What the hell?
Claire Temple, who has been a recurring character throughout the Marvel shows on Netflix, is the only one in their group with any sense about her, and they just ignore her advice all the time.
However, there are two characters I loved from start to finish because of how they are presented to the audience and how they are portrayed by their actors. These are Ward Meachum and Madame Gao.
Ward is the only character in the season who is fully developed from the beginning to the end. He starts out as someone who is successful but eager to stay in power while simultaneously in servitude to his father, who is believed by the rest of the world to be dead. The pressures of dealing with his father and a major corporation are so great that he develops a drug addiction that soon leads to Madame Gao’s heroin trade.
Oh, and that heroin addiction is another in a long line of Danny Rand’s mistakes, but I digress.
Gao first appeared in the Daredevil series, but in it she seemed to just be some drug lord (or lady?). In Iron Fist, she is a looming adversary and a high-ranking leader in The Hand. She is this sweet-looking old Chinese lady who nonetheless leads through fear and even gets her own hands dirty when the occasion calls for it.
Ward is perhaps the only character in the entire series who is redeemable and, eventually, is redeemed. He disposes of bodies for his father, then snaps and kills his father (Don’t worry, kids. His dad is… or was… immortal!), betrays Danny and Joy and his dad all in one go, and then makes up for everything by helping Danny and killing his dad again (long enough this time that he can cremate him, killing him for good) (hopefully).
Gao is eventually captured by another leader in The Hand, one who wishes to use Danny for his own purposes, and is eventually left to her own devices. She is the only character in the entire series who is honest, which is awesome considering how downright evil the lady is.
Now, despite the show as a whole leaving me underwhelmed, I am extremely excited at the prospect of The Defenders, which is Marvel’s next big project to be released. Rand will appear alongside Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, and Daredevil to fight for the people of New York. Rand can’t possibly screw that one up too much.
I recommend, however, that you do watch Iron Fist, if only to catch up on the story. I left huge chunks out on purpose. Watch for the story and/or watch for Ward and Gao. And, get excited for The Defenders.