Enter the Iron Fist
SINGAPORE—Danny Rand is an outsider— that’s how Netflix’s adaptation of “Marvel’s Iron Fist” presented his character, and that’s exactly what his story needs him to be.
For the rest of the world, Danny Rand has been dead for 15 years. So were his parents, Wendell and Heather Rand, after their private plane crashed in the Himalayas on a business trip to China.
But the young Rand miraculously survived the accident and was sheltered among the monks of K’un Lun, a city of heaven in another dimension. He was raised to become a warrior, who chose to train and triumph against the city’s finest to earn his badge as its protector.
Fifteen years later, he decides to pop back in New York, back into the lives of Joy and Ward Meachum, who weren’t exactly prepared to welcome him with open arms. The prodigal multibillion company heir then discovers his sworn enemy—The Hand—has infiltrated his company and may have caused the accident that left him an orphan.
In an exclusive press conference in Singapore, executive producer and showrunner Scott Buck said that while the other Defenders had accidental superpowers, “Danny Rand becoming the Iron Fist is something he had to work for, had to struggle through years to become.
“Now that he has the Iron Fist and is the Iron Fist, he asks what does it mean? What did I just spend my life trying to attain? What am I gonna do with this,” the Marvel production rookie said.
The newest Marvel series produced by Netflix has been haunted by casting criticisms and bad reviews since it premiered. Critics argued that the series’ first mistake was casting Finn Jones for the lead role, with a plot that played around an outdated storytelling troupe that involves a westerner eventually excelling at eastern cultures.
“I think that’s how it is on the show, we have the essence of the character and we are free to interpret that. The essence is always there even if the way the story is told changes,” Jones argued.
While “Marvel’s Iron Fist” presented its viewers with a lead that is vulnerable and under emotional turmoil, ultimately, it also gave a character to journey with.
Danny is a half-baked Immortal Weapon, one who is just starting to realize the gravity of his role as the sworn enemy of The Hand, the sole protector of K’un Lun. He is an Iron Fist that has not completely turned his back from his past, with his desires for vindication and belonging as distractions from his duty.
“He’s full of contradictions, on the one hand he’s this fierce, strong, loyal warrior. On the other hand, he is this wreck of a kid that’s just trying to piece his life together,” 29-year-old Jones shared.
“Danny is always in the middle of these contradictions and for me to play his character, I have to find the grayness in it all, explore all those elements.”
Netflix shows a character that has not fully undergone his complete training as a warrior, with his actions and motivations muddled with the desire for truth and revenge. But Danny is also a character that is seemingly being put into place by fate itself.
The Hand is finally revealed to be a multidimensional threat in the series. It is not merely a syndicate that controls corporations and cartels. But this is the point where the viewers share Danny’s confusion as to why The Hand is in New York, as well as their motivations of their illicit operations on Earth.
The discovery revives Danny’s destiny and duty as the Iron Fist. More importantly, it pulls the entire Netflix Marvel Universe together.
“It’s not so much about a superhero, but a show about a person who happens to have a superpower and what it means—what he’s going to do with that, and how it affects the world and the people around him,” Buck, who elaborated on the show’s main storytelling approach, said.
Although riddled with immaturity and lacking the emotional intensity it calls for, Danny Rand’s character and psyche continue to be one of the most complex in the cinematic universe—and Netflix is taking its time in letting his character develop.
“Marvel’s Iron Fist” made use of the Marvel’s formula of putting front and center its heroes’ humanity. However, as it tried to explore and spark conversation on the lead’s mental health, and even his conflicted moral compass, it must also recover—more intensely—in coping with the anticipation of action and thrilling scenes.
The first season made us doubt the Iron Fist as the Immortal Weapon, given the fighting caliber of the heroes that have been introduced before him. But maybe that is exactly what the series compels its viewers to do at this point: to dismiss Danny Rand as a third-tier character.
But perhaps he will be The Defenders’ underdog-turned- deus ex machina—and eventually Danny’s character will be able to center his chi, powerful enough to break through.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.