These viewing notes contain spoilers.
Iron Fist, the fourth and final member of the Defenders, has finally made his debut. As with previous Netflix series, we’ll be reviewing an episode a day highlighting the characters, reference points and easter eggs we spotted. Feel free to read along as you watch too, but please don’t spoil future episodes for anyone in the comments!
It looks like episode eleven is the closest we’ll get to an origin episode of Iron Fist, offering us glimpses of K’un L’un’s entrance and a slight hint of the dragon that Danny beat to get his powers. Admittedly, these are the kind of things that would’ve been hard to do on a TV budget, especially given how ropey the greenscreen was in just showing us the mountains, but I’m disappointed at how ambiguous it was left.
Meanwhile, Claire spends her time patching up a future Defender. Rosario Dawson really is a notch above the material here, which mostly involves standing around asking questions and saying the kind of things the audience is thinking (like “maybe if your version of the Hand is good it shouldn’t be called the Hand!?”). Davos’ frustration with Danny is also familiar – he’s the guy who would’ve respected the role of Iron Fist and yet was denied it. I’m trying very hard not to read subtext into that storyline.
The problem, really, is that nothing Davos says is wrong. Danny is a bad Iron Fist. He isn’t good at the job and he doesn’t want it, which makes me wonder why he was selected at all. Furthermore, if K’un L’un is only accessible for short amounts of time, why does he have to guard it anyway? I’m really enjoying Davos’ presence, because if nothing else it’s forcing Danny to confront what are, for him, some upsetting truths.
I’m still completely unsold on Danny’s emotional state, however, even if this is some temporary glitch designed to prevent him from accessing the iron fist. I hope when he comes back in Defenders he’s a lot less impetuous and a bit calmer and generally not like a very, very angry teenager. I get that they probably wanted to do a version of the character who was a little overwhelmed by life and maybe more emotional than a “living weapon” should be, but it’s hard not to watch the last few episodes and think they dialled it up too far.
The problem here is that I’ve sort of lost track of what Danny’s plan is. He arrived wanting to get back to his family, then he wanted his company back, then he wanted to shut down Gao’s heroin operation… and behind all that there’s apparently some subtext that he never wanted to be in K’un L’un and get the power of the Iron Fist anyway. It’s all a bit too inconsistent for me to get a firm grip on the plot or the character.
As for references…
Claire tells Davos he should eat a slice of Joe’s Pizza, which is (famously, if you’re a combination Marvel/New York Pizza nerd) the place where Peter Parker worked delivering pizzas in Spider-Man 2. That’s not so much a suggestion of a shared universe as it is a nod to New York’s importance within the Marvel canon.
The shirt Claire gives Danny would appear to have bullet holes in, so I *think* it’s supposed to be Luke Cage’s. Although the idea of Finn Jones wearing a shirt that the absolutely giant Mike Colter wore is kind of funny in itself.
For what it’s worth, there’s no real precedent in the comics for the Hand having any “good” operations, though Daredevil did once take over and try to run it, er, reasonably ethically. It didn’t end well. That all happens in the storyline called Shadowland, in case you’re interested.
And, I think that was it. The references are really being dialled back at this point, though I suppose it’s fair that they won’t be introducing new concepts from the comics at this late stage…