The final prelude to Marvel’s “The Defenders,” “Iron Fist”

Jeri Hogarth (left) and Danny Rand (right) in Marvel's "Iron Fist".  (Facebook/Marvel's Iron Fist) 

Jeri Hogarth (left) and Danny Rand (right) in Marvel's "Iron Fist".  (Facebook/Marvel's Iron Fist) 

Marvel’s “Iron Fist” tells the story of Danny Rand, a mid-20s adult thought to be dead for 15 years after a tragic plane crash killed his entire family leaving him a lone survivor, or so it seems.

The show begins with Danny returning to New York City in search of his father’s business partner Harold Meachum, played by David Wenham who is known for his role as Faramir in the “Lord of the Rings.” Harold is the only person who can prove Danny isn’t a fraud as he is immediately received as such upon his return to the Big Apple.

This struggle for proof of identity is key to the overall narrative of the shows 13 episode season, highlighting the qualities supporting characters of Edward (Tom Pelphrey) and Joy Meachum (Jessica Stroup), as it is quickly realized that their father, the very person Danny is searching for, has died.

A sinister story begins to take shape as Danny gets locked up in a psych ward to discover that there doesn’t seem to be any evidence of his existence anywhere, leading one to believe that things are not what they appear.

The only story Danny has to tell is that he is the Iron Fist of Kun-lun. In the show, Kun-lun is a secluded monastery in the Himalayas, trained to be fierce warriors in order to have the opportunity to become the defender of Kun-lun, known as the Iron Fist.

In some ways, the story stalls in its early episodes. While the show overall does tell a thorough and multi-layered narrative, its ability to suspend disbelief is challenged due to the knowledge that “Iron Fist” is the last stand-alone arc that will culminate in “The Defenders” coming later this year, which will combine the stories of “Jessica Jones,” “Daredevil” and “Luke Cage.”
All the characters from these shows are based in New York City, so the anticipated combination of the narratives, similar to the “The Avengers,” which had individual movies for each member of the super-hero group, isn’t a secret anymore. This kind of knowledge takes some of the thrill out of the show.

That being said, the fight choreography and gritty noir style that every Marvel show on Netflix has portrayed remains present here, maintaining a darker theme story that asks what makes one a hero. Danny is stricken with the trauma of losing his parents and upon his return to New York, those who watch the show will see the depth of that experience, a darkness that every character in prior Marvel shows have in some form.

All in all, “Iron Fist” may have one rooting for Danny from the start, but the time it takes to for the story to move forward is too slow. The early episodes succeed in portraying the dark and noir elements that these Marvel shows have been telling stylistically and continues to succeed in that endeavor throughout its entire season; that heroes aren’t infallible or by any means the quintessential role model.


Matthew Gilbert is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at matthew.gilbert@uconn.edu.