iron fist spoiler review genres

Genre-Flipping

The best parts of the legal drama that comprise large portions of Iron Fist (to some dismay) are those that lean into the kind of cutting strangeness that made FX’s Damages so good. The Rand-Meachum legacy is complicated at best, especially with Harold pulling the strings and the suggestion that the Rands might have been involved with the Hand even before their fateful plane crash. It’s not a ship that’s fully right even before Danny comes on, as evidenced by the board’s willingness to oust Danny as well as the Meachum siblings. This is where blackmail and a very House of Cards-style method of dealing with uncooperative colleagues kick in, and taken for what it is, rather than a secondary part of a superhero show, it’s good fun.

It helps that the Meachums are a twisted bunch. In what is easily one of the darkest scenes in the season, Ward commits patricide, only to discover that what brought Harold back to life in the first place will keep doing so ad infinitum. Then there’s Ward’s consuming devotion to his sister, which, at around the same point in the story, becomes his primary motivation.

The conflict between different branches (fingers?) of the Hand is fascinating, too, as it draws together elements of what we’ve seen with other heroes through Madame Gao (Wai Ching Ho) and expands upon it. That she manages to throw Danny across the room with just a wave — without even touching him — is just the cherry on top of the cake. And then there are the ntroductions of Davos (Sacha Dhawan), the Steel Serpent, who is seen recruiting Joy to the cause at the end of the season, and Lewis Tan as Zhou Cheng, practicing the “drunken fist” style of martial arts and proving, in his five minutes of screentime, that he deserves every bit of buzz that he’s gotten.

Marvel's Iron Fist

Listening In

Part of the way Marvel has distinguished its shows from each other has been by giving them a distinctive look and sound. Iron Fist mostly fails to distinguish itself visually — its boardroom scenes stand out, but mainly because the corporate environment hasn’t been a big part of DaredevilJessica Jones, or Luke Cage — but it definitely sounds different. There’s a surprising amount of silence in the series, but in general, Iron Fist goes for an electronic vibe.

Maybe unsurprisingly, it’s a gambit that doesn’t entirely work. It works when the series is focusing on the Rand Corporation and when it doubles down on its dealings with the Hand (it’s Refn-like, if one is feeling generous), but less so when it comes to Danny’s journey of self-discovery. This mostly has to do with the fact that there’s a lot of filler going on in anticipation of The Defenders, and trademark looks or sounds only really work when they’re tied to a focus. It doesn’t help that the specter of cultural appropriation and assumption hangs over Danny’s story, which brings us to the last point.

iron fist spoiler review harold

The Creature from the Black Lagoon

Though Harold Meachum’s repeated resurrection is courtesy of the Hand, the iconography that surrounds it is much more reminiscent Western monsters rather than the mishmash that the Hand can be (notably egregiously so in the second season of Daredevil as well as Danny’s trials here). His third lease on life sees him emerging from a murky swamp, and taking the majority of the episode after that simply regaining his bearings. It’s one of the stranger sequences in the show, and works simply for being so bizarre.

It also bears some interesting connotations as to Elektra’s fate within the Netflix Marvel universe. The last time we saw her, it was in a sarcophagus, but it’s already been confirmed that she’ll be back. Each time Harold is resurrected, he behaves a little more erratically — his appetites shift wildly, and his capacity for violence only becomes more brutal. The scene in which he caves in two men’s heads with a hammer and thereby extracts all their teeth is one of the most shockingly violent and jarring sequences we’ve seen in a Marvel property thus far. Given what Ward is told when he seeks out information — that the undead destroy those closest to them, citing a story in which a shepherd roasted and ate two of his own children — this can’t bode well for what comes next.

All that said, there’s a show inside Iron Fist that’s worth a chance, but it’s a tough sell when you have to get through a significant number of Russian nesting dolls to get to it. The best iteration of the show is a corporate drama crossed with a parsing of clan mythology, i.e. something very different from each of the Marvel shows that have come before it. But maybe a shake-up is what the formula needs.

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