MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD: The main arc of “Iron Fist” is discussed in the following review, though major revelations are not revealed.
With the premiere of Marvel’s “Iron Fist,” the Netflix universe completed its list of “Defenders” to shape the streets of New York City. Although the actor portrayals throughout the show can come off as cheesy and cliche, the series thrives on it’s beautifully choreographed fight scenes and the commitment to the universe it has established.
“Iron Fist” distinguishes itself from its predecessors with its constantly shifting antagony. Throughout the series’ 13 episodes, it’s unclear whether the organization known as the “Hand” was the archvillain or simply an individual with an agenda, which kept the series from growing dull.
Danny Rand, played by Finn Jones, arrives back in the city after mysteriously vanishing in a plane crash in the Himalayas. Assuming things were as he left them, Danny shows up in New York with only a backpack and a head full of memories trying to prove his identity.
In the pilot episode “Snow Gives Way,” Rand is confronted by his longtime rival Ward Meachum, played by Tom Pelphrey, who has taken over his father’s company under the assumption that Rand has been dead for 15 years.
Having ambitions to expand the company eastward, Ward Meachum can’t let the newly arrived stockholder go public, despite remaining wary of Rand’s identity. Equally wary is Ward Meachum’s sister Joy Meachum, who walks the thin line of wanting to believe their long lost friend has returned while maintaining her stake in the company.
In the second episode “Shadow Hawk Takes Flight,” Rand’s struggle to prove his identity truly begins. He spends the duration of this episode in a psychiatric ward after being deceived by Joy Meachum and must convince the one’s watching him he is who he claims to be.
During Rand’s detainment, Harold Meachum begins to suspect that the stranger claims to be who he actually is and arranges for his son to make his transition a comfortable one. Ward Meachum does not like the idea of Rand being alive and has other plans in mind for the young warrior.
In “Rolling Thunder Cannon Punch,” Rand must cope with losing his old life and embracing his role as Iron Fist. The Marvel universe within Manhattan begins to weave together as Jeri Hogarth, lawyer and antagonist to Jessica Jones, makes an appearance.
It’s a nice little touch to have Hogarth help Rand try to prove his identity and takes ownership of his father’s company. Marvel really starts to hammer the nail in the coffin by “Night Nurse” cameo in Rosario Dawson’s character Claire Temple.
The show speeds up once Harold Meachum demands to meet with Rand, laying down the groundwork for the main conflict of the entire season. The Hand becomes more prevalent as its role in Rand Enterprises and Harold Meachum tasks Rand with ridding them of the company. Rand slowly begins to transition into businessman by day and defender of the streets by night in the following episodes.
In episode six “Immortal Emerges from Cave,” we begin to see the Hand in full effect as an invitation is extended to Rand to complete a set of matches. Upon completion, the audience learns the identity of Madame Gao.
It becomes increasingly difficult to juggle all of the storylines the show has going on simultaneously, especially toward the end of the season. However, the plot begins to clear up after “Black Tiger Steals Heart.”
Everything comes full circle after Harold Meachum’s true role is revealed. In the finale “Dragon Plays with Fire,” Rand finally understands his life path and the reason behind the series’ events. Now understanding who the true villain is, Rand must face his foe while on the run and also dealing with conflicting emotions about his true destiny.
After confronting his final foe, Rand leaves the audience with suspense of what his future holds, possibly teasing a second season before Netflix decides to finally assemble “The Defenders.”