Netflix – Season One streaming from 17th March 2017
Based on characters created by: Roy Thomas and Gil Kane
Created and Written by: Scott Buck
Directed by: John Dahl
CIRQUE DU PSYCHOPATH
Ant-Man aside, I have invariably been on the ball with watching all of Marvel Studio’s blockbuster comic book adaptations during their cinematic runs. Inversely, the television spin-offs have somehow evaded by attention. I’m not against seeing them, but I don’t consider them essential to the MCU. Plus, once I fell behind on Daredevil, I felt inclined to hold off on Jessica Jones and Luke Cage until I could watch them in production order.
Confession time: I still haven’t seen any of them, but with Netflix dropping all 13 episodes of Marvel’s Iron Fist today, on a spurious whim curiosity got the better of me and I thought “why not check it out?” After all, there should be no need to have seen the preceding three spin-offs to appreciate this (largely) independent series.
And there isn’t. At least not on the evidence of episode one. Written by showrunner Scott Buck, “Snow Gives Way” introduces us to barefoot wanderer and lead protagonist Danny Rand (Finn Jones), who channels Chris Pratt’s scraggly happy-go-lucky arrogance from Parks and Recreation. Sleeping rough, Danny returns to New York City after being presumed dead for the previous fifteen years. He just wants to talk to those now in charge at his father’s former company, Rand Enterprises, but he is met with distrust and open hostility at every turn – even from those he used to call friends.
Brother and sister Ward (Tom Pelphrey) and Joy Meachum (Jessica Stroup) – who grew up with Danny owing to their father’s partnership in the firm – are now corporate leaders at RE following the Rand family tragedy and Harold Meachum’s (David Wenham) death from cancer, but they are threatened by his return to the extent that bully Ward would rather throw him out and have the security guards eliminate him, then take on board his miraculous story.
You see, when the Rand’s plane crashed in the Himalayas, Danny was rescued and brought up in a Buddhist monastery where he channelled his inner zen and learned to become proficient in kung fu, a la Bruce Wayne in Batman Begins. While we see Danny orchestrate some implausible martial artistry in this debut instalment (taxi jumping, wall scaling), his back story is still rather sketchy (we only see snippets of his flashbacks when he has seemingly painful ‘episodes’) and we are yet to link his abilities to the show’s title. Danny hints at a supernatural element when he mentions a land called “K’un Lan,” but Scott Buck is clearly playing a long game here and doesn’t lay all of Danny’s cards on the table this early on.
Preview reviews suggested that Iron Fist (well, the first six episodes, to be precise) fails to hit the highs the Studio’s other successful endeavours have, but I went in blind and with an open mind and must confess to being slightly underwhelmed, if not all-out disappointed. Finn Jones was just too laid back in his portrayal of Danny Rand’s philosophical nature, to the point where he was more aggravating than the antagonistic jerks who shut-down his attempts to reintroduce himself. Finn also has the same metaphorical-shrug on his face as he fights his attackers, which makes him appear bored rather than untroubled. If this lasts throughout the series it might become intolerable. How can you support such a jaded superhero?
Also, I fear a show this young had yet to earn the supposedly jaw-dropping revelation concerning Harold Meachum, while the script failed to clarify why he felt the need to lay low underground, and why the Meachum’s are so resentful of the deceased Rand’s. I’m sure this will be clarified as the show proceeds, but as a dazzling debut, “Snow Gives Way” raised more questions than it cared to answer, leaving me feeling partly curious, but also somewhat unengaged. Iron First 1.1 didn’t dig deep enough to make me care about these “special creatures” in their kooky scenario.
CR@B’s Claw Score: