These viewing notes contain spoilers.
Iron Fist, the fourth and final member of the Defenders, has finally made his debut. As with previous Netflix series, we’ll be reviewing an episode a day highlighting the characters, reference points and easter eggs we spotted. Feel free to read along as you watch too, but please don’t spoil future episodes for anyone in the comments!
Iron Fist episode 2 seems a little better than the first in some ways, although it still has a long way to go. After the events of the previous episode, Danny finds himself banged up in a mental institution and drugged to his eyeballs such that he can’t use his Iron Fist power (or so we’re told). Of course he manages to escape, even getting several people on side through his actions – and Harold Meachum reveals that he may be serving some darker master.
At first I thought the show was going to play with the idea that Danny actually had been in a psychiatric ward for 15 years, and maybe his claims of being the Iron Fist weren’t quite so clear cut. On one hand, that’s definitely a take on Iron Fist. On the other, we know he’s Iron Fist because that’s the premise of the show, so suggestions to the contrary hold little dramatic weight.
We do, however, get to see Danny actually use the power of the Iron Fist, and that’s at least enjoyable. Personally, I enjoyed them tying the show to the greater mythos of Marvel’s Netflix-verse, and there was plenty of that in the episode:
Meachum’s plan – buying abandoned warehouses in Brooklyn – seems quite reminiscent of the plot of Daredevil season two, where the Hand were digging a hole in Hell’s Kitchen for… some reason. The fact that someone leaves a handprint on the outside of Meachum’s window is a pretty strong suggestion that he’s working for (or with) The Hand, so the familiarity is probably intentional.
Speaking of The Hand, you probably know those guys by now: they’re the order of mystical ninjas who are interested in ruling the world, the enemies of The Chaste (who Daredevil and Elektra were marked as potential warriors for). Iron Fist’s position as the only guy who can destroy The Hand isn’t anything I recognise from the comics, but it does make some sense to cast him in that role here.
The psychiatrist, of course, refers to “The Incident” which is Netflix’s time-honoured way of referring to the time a bunch of aliens flew out of a portal in the sky and fought a Norse god and his mates. Remarkably restrained way of putting it, really. It happened, of course, in 2012’s Avengers movie which the Netflix shows are 100% for sure depicting the same world as.
Danny also describes himself as the Immortal Iron Fist, which doesn’t mean he can’t die, it just means that if he dies there’ll be another Iron Fist to take up the mantle. Probably the best Iron Fist comic, by Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction, David Aja and others, was published under the tital Immortal Iron Fist, so do check it out.
Lastly, Danny calls his monk sect “the Order of the Crane Mother”. At this point there are reveals presumably coming that I don’t want to spoil, but while the sect doesn’t have this name in the comics, the Crane Mother does exist – and she’s not necessarily someone you’d expect the Iron Fist to be working with or for, so that’s quite interesting in itself. If you want to learn more about the Crane Mother, start with Immortal Iron Fist #4 (2007) where she first showed up.
But like I say. More on that later…