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TV Review: Marvel's Iron Fist - S1 Episode 2 "Shadow Hawk Takes Flight"

03.17.2017

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EPISODE 2: "Shadow Hawk Takes Flight"

SYNOPSIS: Danny struggles with his new surroundings, Colleen dishes out a harsh lesson, and Joy sends an unconventional message.

Iron Fist, TV Review, Marvel Studios, Netflix, Drama, Comic Book, Superhero, The Defenders

REVIEW: By the second episode of every Netflix/Marvel series, you have an idea of what to expect. With both Daredevil and Jessica Jones, we knew that the series would be presenting a unique and distinct vision from what was being done on the big screen Marvel Cinematic Universe projects. With Luke Cage, it took the first two episodes put together to really get a sense of where the show was going as both hours felt like halves of a longer single premiere. Iron Fist still feels very disjointed and thematically unclear two episodes in with the second hour coming off virtually with no sensible ties to the first episode. After seeing Danny Rand elude the security detail from his family's company to meeting Colleen Wing and trying to connect wiith his former childhood friends, this episode shifts the focus to the lamest remake of ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST that you could imagine and one that serves no purpose on this show.

If you suddenly met someone you presumed dead for decades and they swore up and down they were the person you remembered despite no proof of identification, you would be skeptical. If that same person claimed to have been trained in a mystical city by warrior monks and became the titular hero of legend, you would have them committed to a mental hospital, too. But, both Ward and Joy Meachum vacillate from friend to foe through the course of this episode that you are left scrambling to figure out who you can trust. The duplicitious nature of these characters would not be a problem on arguably any other series, but the sheer lack of momentum in this hour is what left me wondering what the hell Iron Fist was even going to be about. With a character who is not as well known to mainstream audiences, you owe it to your viewers to anchor them by either opening your series with an origin story or a more profound examination of who this superhero is and what he is capable of.

Sadly. Marvel's Iron Fist seems to make the assumption that we are going to watch this series simply because this is another chapter in a larger saga. For the first time on any of the Marvel/Netflix series, I felt a sensation that this show was written just to fill a quota so the character of Danny Rand could round out The Defenders later this summer. Finn Jones is a decent actor and could be a likeable Danny/Iron Fist but the writers just don't give him anything to do. The core of this episode has Danny committed as a mental patient where he insists he is sane. His doctor begins to unravel that Danny is actually who he says he is, but when Danny finally has earned back his sanity, he begins spouting stories of K'un-Lun and his legacy as the Iron Fist. The doctor quickly realizes that Danny may actually be crazy after all. Stuck in the hospital and medicated to the point where he cannot use his abilities to escape is meant to create tension for the viewer but instead left me questioning just how strong of a hero Iron Fist could be if he cannot even get out of this predicament.

We also have a problem when your primary villian and secondary characters are much more interesting than your hero. Harold Meachum, the presumed dead father of Joy and Ward, is lliving in seclusion and seemingly unaged for twenty years. We are given clues that Harold holds a lot of power of his son and has aims for the returned Danny, son of his former business partner and best friend. Harold has a similar menace to him that Vincent D'Onofrio brought to his portrayal of Kingpin but David Wenham just doesn't have much gravitas as a man stuck in a luxury penthouse. We also get some more time with Colleen Wing. As I said in my previous review, Jessica Henwick is a star in the making and Colleen Wing is a far more intriguing character than Danny Rand. I was left wondering through this episode why she didn't get her own spin-off the moment the writers saw how well she was appearing in the dailies.

Iron Fist, TV Review, Marvel Studios, Netflix, Drama, Comic Book, Superhero, The Defenders

By the end of this second episode, Danny has proven his identity to Joy through the organization of M&Ms by color and Harold has visited him in the hospital, posing as a benevolent spirit. The episode closes with an eerie message for Harold from The Hand and Danny narrowly escaping murder by some inmates hired by the jealous Ward. Danny manages to escape from the hospital as the medication begins wearing off and we get our first look at the power of the Iron Fist as he blows through a solid wall and escapes into the night. Where Danny will go next seems pretty obvious as the writing so far on this series is not exactly top tier. I expected a lot more this early in the season with character development and insight into who exactly Danny Rand is as a man versus who he was as a child. But therein lies the issue with not providing any sort of origin yet for the character: Danny seems like an unreliable narrator and if we cannot trust our main character, what investment do we have in the series?

The entirety of Danny's stay in the mental hospital could have been compressed into a few scenes or even half an episode, but by spinning their wheels for a full hour it seems like the writers behind Iron Fist themselves didn't know how to get the ball rolling. I can think of no other Marvel character who would have been stuck in a situation like Danny Rand finds himself. Hell, even The Punisher managed to get out of prison eventually but that was after enduring a period of time encarcerated where he wanted to be in jail. Once he was ready, he was out. Here, Danny just takes some pills and gets drugged and is virtually beaten into submission, relying instead on his conversational abilities to try and talk himself out. Even that fails. Ultimately, Danny Rand and Iron Fist are just not very compelling yet and that is a shame because there is so much potential in these characters that should already be evident two hours into a thirteen hour story.

NEXT ON MARVEL'S IRON FIST: "Rolling Thunder Cannon Punch" - Joy proves herself a shrewd businesswoman, Danny recalls a painful memory, and Colleen puts her talents to good use.

Source: JoBlo.com

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