Review: Netflix’s Iron Fist, ep. 1 “Snow Gives Way”

If any of you know me, you know I have a great love of all things Marvel, whether it be the films (with Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain America topping that list), ABC’s TV shows, or even the Netflix stuff.

If you don’t know, Iron Fist is the fourth part of a whole, the fifth part of a story, that all culminates later this year in Netflix and Marvel’s TV answer to The Avengers.  The other parts of this are also Netflix shows: Daredevil (seasons 1 & 2), Jessica Jones, & Luke Cage. With the exception of maybe the first half of Luke Cage, it’s all been solid, so far, though Daredevil season 2 is a notable highlight, as it features a fully-costumed hero and the introductions of both Elektra and the Punisher (who is soon to get his own Netflix series).

Last week, when the press reviews began coming in for the first six episodes of the series, it was not good.  The show was being near-universally panned.  I don’t always believe the critics, but as this show was rumored, at one point, to be shelved (as they say they couldn’t creatively pull it off), part of me started to believe there may be some truth to the negative buzz.

Yet, from the opening scene where the show’s protagonist Danny Rand (played by Finn Jones of Game of Thrones) returns to New York City amid the soundtrack of Outcast’s So Fresh and So Clean, I began to realize that the critics were wrong.

I don’t know who those critics really are, whether they were fans of the comic or not, but my wife and I sat down last night and watched the first episode and most of the second, and we were both entertained.  I have limited knowledge of Iron Fist as a comic book character, but my wife had no clue who he was, just to put that in perspective.

It isn’t the action-heavy spectacle that we’ve come to expect from Netflix/Marvel collaborations, at least not up front, which is surprising, being that it is a show steeped in Eastern mysticism and kung fu.

This is a character drama, and Danny is a character with a good heart and a bit of a temper, but he isn’t hard to cheer for.  The show is about he reacts to those he comes in contact with after he’s been gone and presumed dead for the last 15 years.  What does get a little annoying is the way that everyone immediately writes Danny off, simply because he appears to be homeless, or they have believed him dead for so long.

I’ll steer clear of any spoilers here, but the pilot episode hints toward many things and offers several mysteries to be solved as the series progresses.  There’s enough there to become invested in, and the characters are all likable enough to care what happens to them…except Ward.  He’s a dick from the get-go.  Even as a kid.

The other actors,  Jessica Stroup (The Following), Jessica Henwick (Game of Thrones), and Tom Pelphrey (Banshee) are all in top form, here, as well.  I’m not saying I like every character, because they each have their part to play, and each actor performs their role very well.

While Luke Cage used music associated with Harlem to establish tone and setting of the series (not always to great effect, imho), this show similarly uses the outdated playlist on Danny’s iPod to tell a similar tale, not unlike the mixed tape made famous in Guardians of the Galaxy.

Bottom line, I’m itching to watch the next episode because the critics are stupid.  It doesn’t necessarily feel like a Marvel show after only one episode, but rather feels more like a mystery drama where the audience is left to wonder if this mysterious man who claims to be Danny Rand is really who he says he is and how he acquired the skills he now possesses.

If you’re a Marvel fan or if you’re just looking for something interesting to pass a few hours time, this one is certainly worth the look.

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