Spiritual Nugget Alert: Why the Critics are WRONG about Iron Fist on Netflix
You know what is great about raising three boys and a pit bull? Well, being a grown man, it gives me an opportunity to revisit my childhood and I have to admit it is a lot of fun! As a former comic book collector I have a great appreciation for the burgeoning Marvel comic book’s foray onto the Netflix platform. As a youngster I lived in a time where technologies answer to Spider Man’s web shooters was white rope…rope for God’s sake! Nonetheless, my generation was happy to see any attempt at a super hero production leap off the comic book pages on to television in the 1970s.
Fast forward to modern times where technology is so advanced super hero movies are now billion dollar revenue generators for movie studios. Marvel and Netflix, released Iron Fist on March 17, 2017. By 2:00 AM in the morning, myself, my sons, and our pit bull watched the complete Iron Fist series. I took note before it even came out, it was lambasted by many major publications on the Internet; even Rotten Tomatoes gave it a zero! I was influenced by none of their rhetoric or opinions because as a former comic collector I feel I am more of an authority on the transition of comic books to television and movies. Not people who are not intimately aware of the characters or their development over decades.
First, let me say the critics were wrong and clearly off base to condemn the Iron Fist production. I accept the fact people have their own opinions, but my question is are they steeped in reality? There was a controversy Finn Jones, who is a Game of Thrones alumni, was the wrong choice for Iron Fist because he is White. Where was the outcry when Samuel Jackson took over the reigns to play Nick Fury? The fact is Danny Rand, the titular character played by Finn Jones is White in the comic book series, which added to the amazement of a non Asian boy, raised by warrior monks to even become the Iron Fist.
Another interesting facet was Danny Rand was part of a filthy rich family who experienced a tragic plane crash in the Himalayas, which killed his parents and he ended up in another dimension; we will circle back to this premise later! What the writers at Netflix did was to clearly flesh-out the Marvel characters and masterfully integrated characters from Daredevil and Luke Cage into the story line. Iron Fist did not rely on a litany of special effects to drive the story line, but an introspective view of the psychological ramifications of a little boy seeing his parents killed in a horrific plane crash imbued with great spiritual power combined with martial arts.
Can you even imagine the horror of seeing your mother sucked out of the fuselage of a plane? Or the death of your father right before your eyes? It is kind a hard to be an emotionally healthy bad ass carrying that type of emotional luggage around. This concept and sensitivity seemed to evade the many critics who panned Iron Fist. In my opinion, the real tell-all from the critics, is most if not all of them are spiritually blind. The true underpinnings of Iron Fist is a spiritual foundation and demonstrations of spiritual power. This totally flew over the heads of many of the critics.
I found many parallels between concepts in Buddhism and Christianity written into the dialogue for Danny Rand. Profound statements were made and if understood, open the door for great spiritual growth for people. Danny Rand, said, “If you wish to see the truth…then hold no opinions” This is synonymous with being “born again” in the Christian faith because you must erase your mind like a new born baby and learn only spiritual things. Is it not fascinating Buddha lived 1,500 years before Christ, yet they both spoke many of the same truths?
If you wish to see the truth…then hold no opinions.
Danny Rand’s power came from within himself and the Kingdom of Heaven’s Power comes from within. In essence, Danny is a spiritual warrior. The warrior monk dimension Danny Rand was trained is from another dimension. Only accessible during a certain tilt of the Earth’s axis and a specific constellation alignment. Part of this very premise was addressed in the Dead Sea Scrolls where the Essene Sect documented, “There are certain planetary alignments to pray into.” Danny Rand is an amazing character tortured by trauma any of us would suffer through. Finn Jones, effortlessly delivered a performance I can only say was not only believable, but captivating.
The subplot of Iron Fist was abuse between a maniacal father played by David Wenham, as Harold Meachum, whose affiliation with the ninja crime syndicate the Hand, made him immortal. His children were played by Jessica Stroup, as Joy Meachum and his abused son was played by Tom Pelphrey, as Ward Meachum. I will not spoil the series for you, but you will see the decline of Joy and Ward due to the father’s abusive behavior. Their character arcs are viscerally displayed more so by Ward who loyally serves his father’s cryptic nefarious agenda and usually met with physical and emotional abuse.
Harold Meachum, was a methodical menacing character who was quite dangerous not only because of his immortality, but because he played a “frenemy” to Danny Rand with great aplomb. Joy Meachum, was the first to realize Danny Rand was who he said he was and demonstrated she was the only one in the family with a moral compass trained on true North. All in all, the Meachum family, although wealthy was plagued with great dysfunction and dealings to derail Danny Rand only highlighted it. The critics seem disappointed in Harold Meachum as an enemy, but his rage and violence were clearly delivered by David Wenham; and I certainly would not have wanted to be on his bad side if he existed in reality.
Wai Ching Ho, reprises her role as Madame Gao, from the Daredevil series and brings the confidence of being a crime lord from the Daredevil series. In Iron Fist, she came off like Hannibal Lector manipulating Iron Fist with truth when it served her agenda. I guess after being around since the 18th century will give you this mental acumen. Rosario Dawson’s, Claire Temple, has morphed into a bad ass and women should be happy they are getting stronger roles in television. Stand out to me in Iron Fist is Jessica Henwick, who plays Colleen Wing. The strength and skill of her character only made Iron Fist better because she was trained by the “Hand” and could hold her own against Iron Fist. The two of them together clearly complimented each other and it is yet another strong role for a female actor.
Iron Fist is a series for the spiritually minded and those that do not see this miss many spiritual nuggets in this series. Danny Rand, channeled his Chi, which is the human body’s energy system, into his fist turning his flesh into iron. Many critics dismissed the CGI used to create this effect as not impressive, but I assure you this is in fact possible. I attended high school and college with a friend who went to Africa and sat around a fire where an old African man channeled his Chi into his hand and it lit up! I found this special effect for the “iron” fist to be awesome and thoroughly enjoyed seeing it.
The fight scenes were well choreographed and I saw many similarities to Daredevil’s fighting moves in his series. There is a faction of the Hand, acted by Ramon Rodriguez, who plays Sensai Bakuto, and he is another antagonist for Danny Rand. Any opposition by the Hand is a problem for any character in the Marvel Universe because they are immortal. It basically comes down to Light vs. Darkness and Netflix did a fine job of illustrating this war. The Iron Fist is no light weight either because he once knocked the Hulk out.
Many critics were disappointed to not see Danny Rand fight the dragon that seared his chest with the dragon symbol. My thinking is this can happen in year two of the series. Why shoot your load the first time out? Save some bullets for the war not the battle. It is also important to clearly development your characters before relying on CGI effects and Spider Man with Toby McGuire proved this formula. Viewers are left with the indelible impression of not just Iron Fist skills, but his inner turmoil. The Meachum family captures the decadence of corporate greed and moral ineptitude. The Hand will always be a mysterious formidable crime syndicate and year one of Iron Fist clearly captures Danny Rand cutting his teeth on the reality of our dimension.
What I really appreciate is the humanization process of Marvel characters we can relate through love and pain. At the end of the day, they are still human and the affable Finn Jones played the role with innocence and intensity when called upon. Without spiritual training Iron Fist would never be the Iron Fist and I hope this causes more interest in the spiritual capabilities we all possess. Ironically, it is the critics who are holding opinions against Iron Fist and this why they cannot see the truth.
Netflix Iron Fist Grade: B+