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Monday, March 20, 2017

Netflix's Iron Fist Review From Comics to Screen!



I usually don't like boarding the critic train of negative reviews. In all actuality, I really could care less what critics say or don't say about a movie or show. Sometimes I don't agree with them and sometimes I do.

In the case of Iron Fist now streaming on Netflix, I do agree with some critic's views of Marvel's fourth Netflix series but not nearly to the same degree. Unlike some critiques, I don't think that Iron Fist is horrible or unwatchable. 

There are good things about the show. The acting is decent, and I'm not sure why all the hate on Finn Jones is being slung out there or why they think he's not believable as the character.

When critics say Iron Fist is like a generic Kung Fu flick, I do have to agree with that but not to the extent of vile disdain that some have wrote. If you know of the actual character's creation, Roy Thomas has admitted that Danny Rand and the Iron Fist inspiration came about after he watched his first Kung Fu movie.

Not 2nd, 3rd or 50th Kung Fu movie back in the 70s, his very first. So, yes, Iron Fist was a pretty generic concept taken from a Kung Fu flick and thrown out there in the Marvel universe of comics.

Shang Chi? Pretty much the same deal. Everybody who grew up watching the Kung Fu TV series thinks of Shang Chi if they're a comic geek also. 

Neither Iron First nor Shang Chi were exactly and overly original or revolutionary comic characters. At the time, America was just getting into a martial arts craze nation wide, and all the hi-ya-sockie yo face flicks was infiltrating pop culture.

For the most part, Netflix's Iron Fist is somewhat true to the original source material in most regards but also heavily deviates on one important aspect - Danny Rand as Iron Fist the Living Weapon and Danny Rand as well...himself. 

In the early comics, Rand's purpose as the Iron Fist was not clearly implied but he was the Living Weapon and had no qualms about it. He knows who the murderer of his parents are and sets off to exact his revenge. 

In the show, he is much more clueless and doesn't really know why he returns to New York from K'un Lun. Well, that's not true. He returns to find answers about his parents, and in doing so, he hopes to find himself.

He basically gets this greeting shown below.


Danny does know his purpose as the Iron Fist in the Netflix series, and it is the protector of K'un Lun and the guard of the passage way into it from their enemies, most notably the Hand in which he is sworn to destroy. Not the same in the comics, and the show unravels this internal struggle of self that Rand has trouble divorcing either or.

Is he suppose to be the Iron Fist or the Danny Rand he was truly meant to be? Where does he truly belong or with whom?

Unlike Daredevil who is steadfast, adamant and obsessed in his purpose to help the less fortunate and protect his domain of Hell's Kitchen from bad guys of all sorts of levels, Danny is the opposite and lacks and deeply desires a sense of belonging to fill an emptiness inside him.

Much like Luke Cage, Danny is a lost soul that has to weave his way around enemies, except that his enemies hide behind familiar faces or ones that gained his trust. He also searches for answers in hopes of filling that emptiness, but they often lead to him feeling more lost and confused.

There is a lot going on in the fourth and newest Netflix series for sure. Sometimes maybe a bit too much, and it is a slow build where things do connect and unravel eventually.

I can see some critic's points about the show being boring. I admit that there are some sluggish areas.

It's not perfect for sure, but I think it's still enjoyable. I don't think Netflix dropped the ball as some have claimed.

They moved in a direction so this character could actually be plausible in a modern setting and try to eliminate as much of the actual cheesiness of the comics they could, and that is no easy task. For the characters that have already shown up in the Netflix/Marvel world, Iron Fist is the character that had the most to overcome in translating from comic to screen.

It was an underdog at the very onset, and I applaud how they handled it and made it as realistic as possible while still having that connection to the actual source material. That's another thing I like about the show. As a comic fan, I like watching a comic based show or series and can pick up on certain elements where the show plucked from the actual comics.

The further it deviates, the more likely I'm inclined to dislike it. If you know the comics, you can easily spot how it incorporates the comics into the show and where it doesn't.
  
Okay, this is the basics: Danny Rand is the son of Wendell Rand, who is a successful businessman and co-owner of Rand Corporation. Harold Meachum is the shady, piece of sludge, partner of Wendell.

Heather is the wife of Wendell and Danny's mother, and Danny, Wendell, Heather, and Harold Meachum debuted in Iron Fist's 1st appearance and origin in Marvel Premiere #15. If you read the comic, you already kind of have an idea of what's going to unfold in the Netflix series.

SPOILERS AHEAD!

If you don't like ass hat reviews spoiling shiz for you before watching the actual show, stop reading here and come back after.

Of course, the origin was slightly changed from the actual comics, but the essence of Harold's betrayal is still the same in the show. As for the Meachum children, Joy is the daughter of Harold in the comics, but Ward is Harold's brother.

The change from Joy's uncle to brother doesn't really detract from anything since Ward wasn't really a prominent comic character, and I think the sibling dynamic in the show even adds more to the characters.

So in the comics and in the show, Danny Rand does go back to good ole NYC after receiving the Iron Fist in K'un Lun. In the comics, the origin of how Danny defeats Shao-Lao and obtains his power is first told in Marvel Premiere #16, Iron Fist's second appearance and Shao-Lao's debut, and that issue does show Iron Fist returning to New York City. 

The Netflix show doesn't show the battle between Danny and Shao-Lao but refers to it, and in the comics, Danny shows up back in New York in full Iron Fist duds. Keyword in that sentence is "comics", and the show is a bit more humble concerning Danny's return and the outfit he is wearing.

In issue #17, Danny finally visits the Rand building in full Iron Fist duds and is met with hostility in the form of booby traps and hired security. Unlike the show, Iron Fist first meets Harold Meachum upon his return in Marvel Premiere #18.

Having lost his legs due to the intense cold in the Himalayas, Harold is shown as wheel chair bound in issue #18, and this fool has been preparing for Danny's return. Joy Meachum also makes her debut in that issue and walks in late on the verbal confrontation between Iron Fist and Harold that ended up with some masked villain killing Harold Meachum instead.




Of course, Joy thinks Danny or Iron Fist is responsible and vows revenge. Ward Meachum debuts in Marvel Premiere #19 as Joy's uncle, whom she calls immediately after her run-in with Iron Fist.  

He only appears in three panels in that comic, and unlike the show, Ward would end up hiring a bunch of different goons to target Iron Fist continually during his limited appearances in comics. The Netflix show does have the character of Ward do this once.

Colleen Wing makes her debut in issue #19 as well and first meets Iron Fist in that issue. Their meeting is not by happenstance in that issue, and it appears that Colleen sought out Iron Fish. In a later issue, it was confirmed that she was hired to make contact with our Kung Fu hero.



The show definitely has a different take on Danny's return and how he meets the show's supporting characters or villains, and he meets Ward and Joy first out of the main cast. Of course, they don't believe who he says he is and thus begins the drama for the first couple of episodes.



Ward and Joy don't really investigate whether Danny Rand is really who he is, but they do try to thwart him from being able to gain control of the shares Danny inherited. I can see that happening in real life. 

The great thing about the siblings in the show is that they are not cookie cutter villains. They may seem so at first but they evolve as events transpire around them, meaning they're not single-minded throughout the entire story.

They twist and turn and you end up discovering that these two are just as conflicted internally as Danny. Tom Pelphrey is damn good in the role of Ward Meachum.



Harold Meachum is pretty much a cookie cutter villain. You know he's up to no good pretty early on, but he offers a few twists as well since you don't exactly know what he's really up to.

Every time I heard David Wenham speak during the show, I kept hearing 300 lines in my head.


The comics do have a bit of this legal stuff that played out in the Netflix show but to a much lesser extent. Jeryn Hogarth is a character that is instrumental in getting Danny back his inheritance with the Rand Corporation in the actual comics and the show and debuted in Iron Fist #6.

The character of Jeryn Hogarth is obviously Netflix's Jeri Hogarth played by the still lovely Carrie Ann Moss sporting her Trinity hair. Jeryn Hogarth is a lawyer for the Rand Corporation and good friend to Wendell. He became the executor of his estate after Wendell's death.


Like in the show and comics, both Jeryn and Jeri do confirm Danny Rand's identity and orchestrate the legal return of Danny's ownership of the enterprise. However, in the comics, Jeryn is still a lawyer for Rand, but in the show, Jeri got her start at the Rand and doesn't have much love for the company after Wendell's death and the Meachums took over.

Still, the connection is still there for Hogarth from comics to screen, and I thought that was cool. In the comics, it is revealed that Hogarth hired Colleen Wing and Misty Knight to contact Iron Fist.

The show has no connection between Hogarth and Collen Wing like that nor Misty Knight, and Danny meets Colleen supposedly by happenstance. Jessica Henwick as Colleen Wing has gotten great reviews, and some even say that she steals the show.

I don't know about that, but she does a great job as the character. Once again, if you don't like spoilers stop reading.

So in the Netflix series, Colleen Wing is revealed to be a member of the Hand. She is mislead and sent by Bakuto to recruit disenfranchised youths to become eventual Hand members or soldiers.

This is somewhat true to the comics as Colleen Wing was once a Hand member but did not start off as such. Remember, the Hand debuted a bit later in comics in 1981's Daredevil #174 and was created by Frank Miller.


Colleen's connection to the Hand was eventually revealed in the Shadowland story in Shadowland: Daughters of the Shadow #1. Her mother Azumi Ozawa was a leader of an all-girl and sword-wielding branch of the Hand called The Nail back in the day.

In the Shadowland and Shadowland: Daughters of the Shadow series, Daredevil became leader of the Hand and asks Colleen Wing to head up the Nail and take her mother's legacy. So that's pretty much a later connection of the character to the Hand in the actual comics.

So any people watching the show and thinking, Wait a minute! Colleen Wing was never a member of the Hand, now you know there is an actual connection there. As for the character of Bakuto, he is an actual comic character and a leader of the Hand as well but in South America.

No connection to Colleen Wing in the comics unlike the show, and he has very few appearances in actual comics before he's offed by White Tiger. He debuted in Daredevil #505 and is mainly a Daredevil villain since he attempted to kill Daredevil in his few comic appearances and quickly died for it.

As for most of the complaints about Danny's character being all unhinged and having all those flashbacks, read the Marvel Premiere issues that have Iron Fist in them. As much as I agree that the flashbacks were way too repetitive in the show, the actual early appearances of Iron Fist in the comics do have him constantly remembering things from the past.

Also and in the comics, Iron Fist does seem to be traumatized or haunted by what happened to his parents. This is done in the show, but I think they played it out a little bit much.

The way corporations and those corporate elites within Rand Enterprises are depicted is more than plausible and realistic. After all,  George Zimmer of the Men's Warehouse was booted out of the very company he started and so was legendary Steve Jobs at one point.

I don't understand the critics who chastised the show for it's white privileged main character from the 1 percent and why the show is hard to relate to because of class. Really?

For me, messed up is messed up. Don't care if one is rich, middle-class or poor. All I understood is that Danny had an inheritance in a company that tried to basically screw him out of it. 

I think they (these critics) are missing the contrast between Danny and the Meachums in the first couple episodes of the season. The Meachum's value is placed on money and control while Danny's value is once again his need for connecting and belonging. 

It's no surprise that Colleen Wing and Danny end up connecting to each other more in the show than his so-called childhood friends. Also some critics blasted the show for it's political relevance or lack of. 

Once again, I think they missed the underlying back drop of corporate corruption and greed or how Bakuto states that it's not governments who are in control but corporations. Sounds pretty political, and they are relevant talking points in the political landscape currently. 

Danny obviously fits into that corporate world like a square peg in a round hole, and that makes sense. Not like he's gonna come back from K'un Lun after 14 years of just training in martial arts and be Gordon Gekko.

His constant struggle between his K'un Lun upbringing and the world he was suppose to be a part of gets annoying at times, but being a 1st generation American-born, I do understand the struggle or tug of war between two cultures first hand. 



I do agree that the action scenes are kind of bland or generic, but not any more than what was shown in Luke Cage. There really isn't a jaw dropping action scene like in Daredevil season two when our favorite protector of Hell's Kitchen is whompin' on a horde of bikers while descending the staircase.

The villains are a bit more complex as well, and not as straight-forward like in the other Marvel Netflix series. They do not have single-minded goals of villainy like Kingpin, Black Mariah, Diamondback and Purple Man.

Harold Meachum and Bakuto may be exceptions, but their villainy isn't shoved in your face from the get go. Like the show, their true purpose slowly unfolds throughout the season.

Joy and Ward are very much like Danny. When you think one or the other is a villain, you find that they too are searching for themselves among the changes that Danny has thrust upon their lives. 

I was disappointed when I didn't hear news of Davos or Steel Serpent being cast prior to the show, but he does pop up and is played by Sacha Dhawan. As most comic fans know, Davos is the arch nemesis of Iron Fist and covets it's mystical power.

In the show, Davos' character develops and unfolds as well. Deception and betrayal is everywhere in this show, and Davos is no exception. The character debuted in Iron Fist #1 as himself.

He's not in his trademark duds for quite awhile and does not suit up until Iron Fist #14. Yes, the same issue that sees the debut of Sabretooth.

Steel Serpent shows up prior to Iron Fist's meeting with Sabretooth in issue #14 and is mostly in shadow as shown below.




Only on one page and in 7 panels. I think the scene in that comic was in a flashback that had not yet been told.

Davos or Steel Serpent's origin was not told until Marvel Team-Up #64, which also has the first time Misty Knight and Colleen Wing are named Daughters of the Dragon. I believe it's Steel Serpent's first cover also.

The Netflix show did not really show Davos' origin either but his friendship and jealousy of Danny gaining the Iron Fist was definitely stated.

The next season will most likely start getting more into Danny's time in K'un Lun and the relationship or rivalry he shares with Davos. We may see both suit up in season two as well which I am hoping.


There were other minor villains from the comics in Netflix's Iron Fist as well. The Crane Mother or Order of the Crane Mother was mentioned quite a few times.

The Crane Mother debuted in The Immortal Iron Fist #4, and Bride of Nine Spiders and Dog Brother appeared in Immortal Iron Fist #8. Danny does face the Bride of Nine Spiders and Dog Brother in the show.

There is a lot going on in Iron Fist, and Danny Rand as an outsider was very much in the comics and a prominent theme in the show. Things do unfold slowly, but over-all, I enjoyed it.

What about you? What did you think of Iron Fist.







15 comments:

  1. Hi-ya! Everybody Kung Fu fightin'? Did not see the show yet but wanted to throw my fond memories of the first appearance of Sabretooth in the pages of Iron Fist into the ring. Really cool story and cool art that would translate great on to the screen.

    Max Rebo

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    1. Hmmmm...it would be interesting to see Iron Fist clash with Sabretooth on screen.

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  2. I thought it was great ! Daredevil has better source material but Iron fist ranks ahead of Luke cage and Jessica Jones right below DD i loved all of them ! The critics are crazy !

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  3. Screw the critics - this show was great. Never listen to reviews by people who never actually read the comics

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  4. Great review about the marvelous Iron Fist I must say.
    Also, it is very sad that you haven't reviewed Logan. Since you made a review of the trailer months ago I was expecting to see a full review of what you thought about the movie. Anyway it is always nice to read you, your knowledge is simply amazing.

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    1. Oh great then I'll just keep waiting for it I guess :)

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  5. would like to point out that Deadly Hands Special is Iron Fist's actual 2nd appearance. Came out in June 1974... at least as far as i know.

    May 1974:
    Marvel Premiere (1972) #15 - 'The Fury Of Iron Fist!'

    Summer 1974:
    The Deadly Hands of Kung Fu (1974) Special 1

    July 1974:
    Marvel Premiere (1972) #16 - 'Heart of the Dragon!'

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    1. Marvel Premiere #16 has the cover date of July, 1974 but has the copyright date of March 26th 1974 and the newsstand date of April 23rd.

      Deadly Hands of Kung Fu Special #1 has cover of Summer, 1974 but the copyright date of July 16th, 1974 and the newsstand date of July 23rd according to Comic Reader #108. The issue isn't even the third appearance of Iron Fist.

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    2. well, there you go. what do i know. was trying for months now to clear that up and haven't been able to get a straight answer until now!

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    3. Mike's Amazing World "Newsstand" section can help you out if dealing with another comic where they have the same cover dates or if one cover just says Summer, Spring or Winter in comparison to another with an actual month and year.

      You can look up by cover date or on sale date and specify just Marvel or DC Comics within whatever parameters. Pretty helpful when it comes to this.

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  6. Finish watching the show this weekend. Thought is was good.

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  7. Started slow. By episode 6 watched the rest in a day. Jw

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    1. It is sluggish in the beginning for sure and then here and there in some parts. It surely is a different beast. How was the con JW?

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