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– by David Kozlowski

Netflix’s newest Marvel television series Iron Fist has an identity problem. Each of the preceding series leading up to Iron Fist — culminating in the epic mini-series The Defenders later this year — exhibited distinct points-of-view and unique attitudes. Daredevil expressed Matt Murdock’s Catholic-driven rage, Luke Cage was typified by his social consciousness and a soulful mood, while Jessica Jones demonstrated female empowerment against the backdrop of addiction and sexual abuse. Each was an extraordinary character living within a fully-defined world. The perplexing question left unanswered by the lead-up to Iron Fist is: who is Danny Rand? And more important, why should we care? 

Over the past couple days, Netflix has dropped three new clips, which aim to define the character of Danny Rand, portrayed by actor Finn Jones, while also fleshing-out the world of Iron Fist and how it will be woven into the tapestry of what will soon become The Defenders. That’s asking a lot. Are they successful?



In this first clip we get a few moments of dynamic martial arts action. Marvel is vague regarding the specific fighting style employed by the Iron Fist, but fans will tell you that it’s derivative of the Chinese art of Kung Fu, which is typically rhythmic and flowing. Danny faces off against a nameless fighter who wields a deadly (if ornate) Chinese Kwan Dao spear. The ensuing battle exhibits shades of Korean Tae Kwon do and Bruce Lee’s eclectic Jeet Kune Do – the fighting is snappy and acrobatic but doesn’t provide separation from the fighting seen in Daredevil. Unfortunately, this clip does not illuminate much in the way of character, as Rand is laconic and his dialog a bit clichéd. 

Next, Rand is paired with Claire Temple, played by Rosario Dawson, a veteran of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage. Temple is the conscience and everyman in the Netflix/Marvel universe. She tapes up Rand’s midsection and offers him a slightly-bullet-ridden shirt, presumably once worn by Luke Cage. It’s a nice moment, but honestly, this is a scene we’ve seen in each of the preceding Marvel series. Rand is somewhat more vocal here, but Jones’s performance comes across totally different from the previous clip.

Finally, Rand encounters another connective Marvel television character, the shifty corporate lawyer Jeri Hogarth, as played by the amazing Carrie Anne-Moss from Season 1 of Jessica Jones. This scene provides some interesting backstory. Apparently, Rand met Hogarth many years ago when she was a young intern in his father’s employ. It’s a fun scene that provides a little human conflict and some useful exposition – although, it’s a stretch that Rand would have such clear recollections of an inconsequential chance meeting so long ago. Again, Jones seems to be channeling a different character in this scene apart from the other two.

None of these clips really establishes much clarity of character or narrative. Iron Fist is the springboard from which The Defenders launches this fall, but it remains to be seen if Danny Rand can create the necessary momentum to drag all of us forward into this pivotal mini-series.

What do you think of these new clips? Is Danny Rand who you thought (or hoped) him to be? Let us know in the comments down below!

Iron Fist hits Netflix on March 17, 2017.

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SOURCES: Cosmic Book News, Netflix

David Kozlowski is a writer, podcaster, and visual artist. A U.S. Army veteran, David worked 20 years in the videogame industry and is a graduate of Arizona State University's Film and Media Studies.