The Marvel Takeover - Day Five: Iron Fist Season 1 Recap
The Four Color Ark
THE MARVEL TAKEOVER
DAY FIVE: IRON FIST SEASON ONE
Excelsior! This is the final installment of The Marvel Takeover and our last series to recap before the premier of the Netflix Marvel Series: The Defenders. It’s time to take a look at the young man whose family died in a plane crash near the mystical city of K’un Lun leaving him as the sole survivor – raised by warrior monks to become: The Immortal IRON FIST.
SEASON ONE RECAP
Danny Rand (Finn Jones) has more or less grown up in the mystical city of K’un Lun but decides that since he now has glowing hand superpowers, it’s time to return to New York City and reclaim his family’s legacy. Barefoot and wearing tattered robes Danny walks into Rand Enterprises and demands to see Harold Meachum, whom he believes should be in charge. Looking for all the world like a homeless man, Security does not take Danny all that seriously in his claim that he is the long lost heir to the Rand name and try to remove him from the building - - but being the Iron Fist means Danny has learned some sweet kung fu moves that he uses to fight his way to the top floor where he finds his childhood friends, and children of the deceased Harold Meachum, Ward (Tom Pelphrey) and Joy (Jessica Stroup.) There is some back and forth, and the younger Meachums do not immediately believe this man to be their long since believed deceased friend. Danny leaves and spends a little time living in a park before he finds his way to a dojo run by Colleen Wing (Jessica Henwick) where he demonstrates more sweet kung fu when Ward sends mercenaries to capture Danny. The next day he goes a little stalkerazzi and follows Joy, attempting to reach out to her to get her on his side; instead she drugs him and has him committed to a psychiatric hospital.
The supposedly dead Harold Meachum (David Wenham) is actually very much alive and in hiding, the only person who knows he is alive is his son Ward. Harold sneaks into the psychiatric hospital to talk to a drugged Danny who reveals that he is the Iron Fist – the defender of K’un Lun and the sworn enemy of The Hand. Since it was The Hand who cured his cancer but forced him into a life of hidden servitude, Harold starts instantly scheming of ways to use Danny to his advantage. Meanwhile Danny’s doctor thinks he suffers from delusions, and Ward sends in men posing as patients to kill Danny. Danny uses yet more sweet kung fu and his mystical hand powers to defeat these men and escape.
Joy figures out that the guy claiming to be Danny must really be Danny and tracks him down, offering him $100 Million to change his name and disappear without ever troubling the Meachum’s again. Danny refuses and does what any good rich kid does, he lawyers up by going to visit Jeri Hogarth (Carrie Anne Moss) who helps Danny build a case to reclaim his identity – the key component being a ceramic bowl Danny made as a kid and gave to Joy. This bowl contains a fingerprint that matches Danny’s and proves the legitimacy of his claim. In return for helping him reclaim his name, all Jeri asks is to be on retainer to Rand Enterprises.
Harold’s weird schemes involve the need to purchase a particular pier and turn it over to the Hand. Danny deduces that Harold Meachum is really alive and follows Ward to Meachum’s home, where Ward first pushes Danny off the ledge then apparently saves his life and presents him to Harold who convinces Danny to help destroy The Hand in New York and free Harold from his exile. Harold tells his son to allow Danny to return to Rand Enterprises and reclaim his role as majority shareholder. Danny returns to his father’s company and begins to throw his weight around, making unpopular decisions that concern the board of directors. Members of the Triad ultimately track down Joy for her role in the purchase of the pier that has been turned over to The Hand and are planning to kill her; Danny intervenes and takes Joy to Colleen’s dojo where she’ll be safe. The Hand informs Harold of what has happened to Joy and grants him the permission to kill the Triad member who wounded her in the attack.
Danny discovers that The Hand is responsible for a new synthetic heroin, and comes to Ward with a sample to try to convince him that Rand should take them down – Ward dismisses Danny’s concerns and pockets the heroin to take as part of his growing addiction. Danny then discovers that Rand’s Staten Island facility is spewing carcinogenic waste, and is caught on camera publicly apologizing and committing Rand Enterprises to clean up the mess – which of course angers the board. Ward gets together a meeting to strategize how to respond, and the most favored option is to oust Danny and try to restore consumer confidence by putting the Meachum’s back on top. Placed into another situation where he has no control and is under the thumb of Harold, Ward takes the potent synthetic heroin he took from Danny and immediately overdoses. Meanwhile Danny pops by Colleen’s dojo to see if she’ll come along and help him confirm his theory that the synthetic heroin is being shipped out of the docks that were just purchased by Rand and turned over to The Hand, Colleen agrees to go after dismissing her latest student: Claire Temple. Colleen and Danny discover trucks full of heroin and a Russian chemist who is conscripted to work for Madame Gao.
Ward throws out all of his drugs and agrees to help Danny search Rand Enterprise warehouses for more clues about the heroin supply chain, and the pair search together until Danny finds an invitation from Madame Gao to face The Hand in ritual combat. Facing off against Andrei and Girgori Veznikov, The Bride of Nine Spiders, and Scythe – Danny uses yet more sweet kung fu to defeat all of them but is less than successful when facing Madame Gao herself. Danny manages to make it out alive, but barely. Claire and Colleen take the Russian chemist to a hospital because he is in terrible shape, but he is captured by The Hand.
Meanwhile in Harold’s penthouse prison, The Hand has shown up to get intel from him on the nature of his relationship with Danny – who shows up just in time to turn the tide so that Harold can kill the two. Harold forces Ward to do the clean up on this.
Rand Enterprises decides that Danny and the Meachums are all a liability to the company and ousts all of them. Danny, Colleen and Claire kidnap Gao and learn that The Hand can bring people back to life, but those who are brought back go crazier after each return. Furious over losing his job and all his money, which was his escape hatch from his father’s terrible life, Ward kills Harold… but not for long.
Harold revives again, and just as Danny had learned – he comes back more psychotic. He kills his assistant and plants drugs in Ward’s car so that he’ll be arrested and sent to a psychiatric hospital. Harold reveals himself to Joy and the two have an eerie reunion. Meanwhile The Hand has descended on Colleen’s dojo to retrieve Gao, the battle is fierce but for some reason Danny is having a hard time harnessing his chi to do his sweet kung fu and he is knocked unconscious. Danny wakes up at a martial arts compound run by a man named Bakuto (Ramon Rodriquez) who it turns out is one of the leaders of The Hand, and the former sensei of Colleen Wing who is a secret Hand member as well. Betrayed, Danny tries to find a way to escape the compound. His wish is granted when his friend Davos from K’un Lun arrives. Davos helps Danny escape, and as the two fight their way through a sea of Hand ninja’s – Colleen opens the main gate allowing Davos and Danny to escape.
Harold kills the board member who ousted his children and makes it look like a suicide, he then makes sure the rest of the board reinstates Joy and Ward. Ward escapes the hospital, Colleen escapes The Hand. Ward goes to the Penthouse to try to destroy Harold and rescue his sister – Colleen goes to find Danny to help him take down The Hand. Davos wants to return to K’un Lun, but Danny won’t – not until The Hand has been destroyed. Bakuto and The Hand head for the Penthouse so that they can finish siphoning all of Rand’s money into Hand accounts. A massive showdown happens, battle lines are drawn, and in the end Danny refuses to kill Bakuto; but Davos does. Danny and Davos fight, Davos admits he is jealous that Danny is the Iron Fist and he is not. Davos and Bakuto’s bodies disappear.
Harold comes back to work at Rand, alive and well, and prepares to announce his return to the world. Colleen and Danny return to Bakuto’s compound to find it completely abandoned except for the prison Bakuto had placed Gao into. Gao reveals to Danny that Harold was the architect of the plane crash that killed Danny’s parents, and that Harold wanted the secrets of K’un Lun for himself but settled for the powers of The Hand. Enraged Danny races to Rand Enterprises to face Harold, Ward agrees to help stop Harold and Danny finds his way to the roof and his final showdown with the seemingly immortal Harold Meachum. The fight is short, Danny channels his Chi and uses yet more sweet kung fu – Harold falls off of the roof and to his death. Ward makes sure that Harold cannot live again by cremating the body, but a furious Joy aligns with Davos to plot the death of Danny Rand. Danny takes Colleen back to K’un Lun, but finds that in his absence the gate has been closed and he cannot return.
Iron Fist is unfortunately the weakest of all the Netflix shows and is the victim of its own choices. The cast is full of actors who deliver quiet menace and understatement with aplomb – all would be fantastic additions to the corporate and legal world of Hell’s Kitchen inhabited by Matt Murdock. The characters they are playing however are far more showboat than the performances given, and it shows that some of these roles are terribly miscast. David Wenham and Jessica Henwick are the standout performances, and Wenhams’ mainly for the fact that it is so out there.
The pacing of this series is so slow that it becomes a real slough to get through, and the pace doesn’t ever really pick up.
Danny Rand is made into the “sworn enemy of the Hand” in this series, which will I’m sure come into play tomorrow when The Defenders premieres. This choice, however, undermines the character of Danny in some fundamental ways (to say nothing of what it does to Daredevil.) Danny in the comics is dedicated to his role as the Iron Fist, but placing him in a position from the start where he abandons his post to run back to America takes this sober hero and turns him into a fickle teenager. That characterization makes a lot of the “sweet kung fu” tedious. Additionally, in the comics, Iron Fist has nothing to do with The Hand. The two characters most concerned with fighting The Hand are Daredevil and Wolverine. Giving that connection to Danny may make the characters much easier to connect in Defenders, but it robs Daredevil of some of what makes him unique.
Rosario Dawson’s Claire Temple is more active in this series since she is learning how to fight from Colleen Wing, but this is the first series where her character felt shoehorned in.
TODAY: NETFLIX PREMIERES THE DEFENDERS!
SOMETIME SOON: The Four Color Podcast will discuss the entire franchise so far, including the episodes that premiere today. Keep an ear out for it!
NEXT WEEK: We return to the DC Universe where Barry Allen breaks the timeline several times in our Flashpoint Special!