We have known for a while now that Iron Fist was going to round out the Netflix Marvel lineup going into The Defenders later this year. With two seasons of Daredevil and one season each of Jessica Jones and Luke Cage tucked away now the expectations for Iron Fist and The Defenders are extremely high. The interesting result of that is that Netflix no longer has to promote the Marvel shows as heavily to build hype, and so they don’t need to release trailers far in advance. Indeed, their tendency these days is to release trailers for all of their new shows and movies in close proximity to their actual release date. This has worked well for them, and I suspect it will work with them releasing the Iron Fist trailer just over a month before the show hits their service.
The story of Iron Fist is that of Danny Rand, who was taken to the city of K’un-Lun by his father. Both his father and mother died on the journey thanks in large part to a corrupt business partner, but Danny survived. Based on the trailer this has changed to him being the sole survivor of a plane crash, which is certainly simpler to explain but also has the side-effect of making it look like an Arrow knock-off (I’ll come back to that in a moment). In the comics the betrayal occurs in the mountains themselves, and Danny’s mom survives a little past the initial danger. Regardless of how he ended up an orphan, he was taken in by the local monks and taught their martial arts styles. As his final test he plunged his hand into the molten heart of a dragon and “his hand… becomes like unto a thing of iron”.
With its heavy emphasis on martial arts, my personal hope for this series is well-choreographed fight scenes. Daredevil has proven that Marvel is capable of providing at least a few per season, but neither Luke Cage nor Jessica Jones had any noteworthy choreography. Those shows didn’t need them since both the titular characters rely on their near-invulnerability to win fights, but both Daredevil and Iron Fist need to actually dodge their attackers. We get some glimpses of the action we can expect in the Iron Fist trailer, and some more in the preview clip starring Colleen Wing’s cage fight (both viewable at the bottom of this page). You can tell that the production team understands that the action is going to be a large part of this show, and it looks like it will receive the attention it deserves. That said, you can also see that there are a number of fast cuts to the action which doesn’t make it as smooth as a Chinese production.
Right now we don’t know much about the actual story behind Iron Fist except the broad strokes. Danny’s parents are killed early in his life, presumably in the plane crash although it is possible they could survive for at least part of the trek to K’un-Lun. He trains to become a master martial artist (and thus misses all the Avengers action) before returning home to reclaim his Fortune 500 company. The trailer doesn’t even bother to hide that the man who controls Rand Enterprises is straight up evil and wants to murder Danny, which is fair since that is the exact plot we got in Iron Man, and have seen versions of in many superhero stories like the aforementioned Arrow. With thirteen episodes to get through I am sure there will be some far more nuanced threats to Iron Fist and his companions, but we don’t know what they are.
Speaking of his companions, in addition to Rosario Dawson making her customary Netflix appearance ala Phil Coulson in the first arc of Avengers movies, we also get Netflix newcomer Jessica Henwick as Colleen Wing. Like Finn Jones (Iron Fist himself) Ms. Henwick is a veteran of Game of Thrones in which she plays one of the Sand sisters (not precisely a ringing endorsement), although she also has Star Wars in her filmography since she played an X-Wing pilot in The Force Awakens. The trailer introduces her but doesn’t show much about her. Netflix rectified this by releasing a clip from the show a day later which features her in a cage fight with two muscular men. It’s a good fight, and shows she has been practicing since her Game of Thrones appearances.
In the books Colleen Wing is a samurai with a sacred katana that she carries pretty much everywhere. More importantly, she is most commonly associated with the “Heroes for Hire”, which she co-founded with Misty Knight — the cop who played such a major role in last year’s Luke Cage. We won’t be seeing Misty in Iron Fist, but both characters are slated for The Defenders later this year, and it is possible that they could be pivotal in creating the team. Either way, there will absolutely be some sort of connection between the two since they are traditionally best friends in the comics.
Lastly, we have David Wenhem stepping in as Harold Meachum, the business partner to Danny’s father who will be the bad guy for at least part of the series. He is a talented actor with a number of great action movies under his belt (300 and The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers being but two of them). In the comics Harold isn’t particularly well developed and never gets much past “evil person trying to steal Danny’s company”, but I expect we’ll get more than that here. I am hoping that the blank slate of Harold will allow the team to create an interesting villain that we can hate throughout the series. It is no secret that Marvel’s biggest weakness in their cinematic universe is the villains, and that really should not be the case in the Netflix shows even though it often is.
Primarily Marvel needs to make sure that this doesn’t just become a rehash of Iron Man, or draw unfavorable comparisons to Arrow. That show has been drawing criticism for its writing the last few seasons, and it would be a good idea to not invite comparisons beyond the plot structure. What will hopefully distinguish the two shows will be the characters. While Stephen Amell’s Green Arrow is dark and brooding (to the point of making Batman envious), what we have seen of Danny Rand is much more casual and laid back. In recent years the character has adopted a more zen/surfer-dude attitude, and that appears to be what they’re drawing on here. He also spent a lot longer away from home than Oliver Queen did, which will make a difference. And there’s also the Avengers. In Arrow Queen is one of the first heroes, while Danny is coming into a world already saturated with them.
The last thing worth taking a look at is the final scene in the trailer. Although brief, we do get a glimpse of some of the special effects in play in the show. In addition to Danny’s glowing hand (a change from the traditional “coated in fire” look he sports when using his powers) we see a room get explosively destroyed by one of his punches. With the success of previous shows, it is clear that Marvel’s Netflix budget has increased, and they are putting it to good use. We have seen a similar jump in the special fx of Agents of SHIELD, despite an apparent attempt to tank the show this season by changing its time slot. Between their Netflix shows, the addition of Runaways to Hulu, and a bevy of other shows incoming it does seem that Marvel is finally taking the television side of their cinematic universe seriously. That does make the upcoming Defenders show all the more appealing.
With just over a month to go before the show launches I expect we will see plenty more teasers and features for Iron Fist. For now the one Iron Fist trailer we have will have to suffice, but it is a good start. This is the Netflix show I have been most excited for since Daredevil season one, and I can’t wait to finally get a chance to watch it. Luke Cage and Jessica Jones were good, solid shows, but Iron Fist has the potential to be a rock’em, sock’em action roller coaster. We’ll find out soon enough whether it can live up to those expectations.
Anyone looking to read some good Iron Fist stories in advance of the show would be well-advised to check out The Complete Immortal Iron Fist v1 by Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction, as well as artists David Aja and Travel Foreman (among others). It is probably the best Iron Fist story we have gotten in a long time, and possibly ever.
Iron Fist Trailer
Colleen Wing Fight Clip