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!
This episode is the one where the generally uninspired fight sequences really hurt the episode, given that it’s structured around Danny fighting in a “tournament”. That said, I thought it was the strongest yet and evidence that the show’s finally coming together.
The problem is that Daredevil season one gave us a high benchmark of this excellent single-shot fight scene, whereas Iron Fist – which is supposed to be about the world’s greatest martial artist – can’t show two punches being thrown in a row without a cut between them. Sometimes two. It feels like the editing is trying to disguise some really shaky work from the actors, stunt performers and directors. It’s improving slowly, but we’re still not anywhere near the thrills of fight scenes from any of the other Netflix MCU shows.
Beyond that, though, I liked it. Danny’s tension between being Danny or the Iron Fist is well-dramatised, and we’re getting some teases that maybe he didn’t leave K’un L’un on the best terms. There was also some quite fun dialogue, though I’m not sure if it was intentional (“I can sense your fear.” “…no you can’t!” had me laughing for about twenty minutes). Colleen and Claire do the smart thing and take their patient to Metro-General, only to discover it’s infested with The Hand’s agents and Ward/Joy find that the former is totally strung out.
Also, you may have noticed it before me, but I’m seeing a lot of the same guy turning up in the background of shots. I’m relatively sure they’re going somewhere with it, but I’m mostly wondering if I missed a bunch of appearances from earlier episodes now.
We finally got a specific MCU reference when the Crisis Management Guy mentioned Danny’s video having “more views than the incredible green guy”, who we can assume is the Incredible Hulk. You know the guy. Big, green, etc. Last seen flying off somewhere sad, in a plane.
Danny’s opponents during his ritual challenge appear to be comics characters too: the woman he fights would seem to be the Bride of Nine Spiders, who first appeared in Immortal Iron Fist #8 (2007) who is one of the other Immortal Weapons. The guy he fights afterwards is definitely a version of Scythe, who Danny fought in Marvel Premiere #16.
Danny also… communes with Lei Kung, the Thunderer, who was one of his masters in K’un L’un. He’s also the Steel Serpent’s father. I’m kind of interested in seeing how much of the mythology they’re actually going to put together by the end of the series. At this point I’m not sure whether Lei Kung is alive, dead, a spirit, a memory, a metaphor or someone Danny was directly talking to with some kind of psychic link. I can only assume that at this point, I’m not supposed to know. In any case, Lei Kung first appeared in Marvel Premiere #15 (1974).
Claire saying “Sweet Christmas!” was, of course, a nod to Luke Cage. And Madame Gao finally confirms, making good a connection hinted at in the first season of Daredevil, that she had been to K’un L’un. And also confirms that Danny isn’t the first Iron Fist, and that Wendell Rand (Danny’s Father) knew about K’un L’un before he accidentally crashed there. Big mythology drops. I’m actually quite looking forward to the next episode.