It’s finally time to shake hands with Danny Rand, aka Iron Fist.
He’s the fourth member and the final ingredient of what could turn out to be TV’s most intriguing superhero series of them all.
Over the past few years, Marvel Television and Netflix have rolled out show after show with the grand plan of uniting a mismatched group of New York superheroes into a kind of Big Apple Avengers.
First there was “Marvel’s Daredevil,” with Matt Murdock, a blind attorney whose other senses are heightened way beyond the norm. Then came “Marvel’s Jessica Jones,” a sarcastic P.I. with super strength and the gift of flight. Then “Marvel’s Luke Cage,” an ex-con with awesome strength and unbreakable skin.
Now, available for streaming on Netflix beginning Friday, is “Marvel’s Iron Fist,” starring English actor Finn Jones (“Game of Thrones”) in the title role.
Once Iron Fist is fully established in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Netflix foursome can team up for the big payoff. “Marvel’s The Defenders,” which began filming in December, is set to premiere later this year.
The team-up approach worked wonders on the big screen for Iron Man, Captain America, Thor and the rest of the gang in Marvel’s “Avengers” movies. The characters are popular in solo outings, but often are even more satisfying when they combine forces to fight super villains (and sometimes each other).
It should also be fun to see the Netflix “street-level” heroes trying to work together.
They come from different worlds. The corporate Manhattan culture of “Iron Fist” is very far removed from the Hell’s Kitchen of “Daredevil” and the Harlem of “Luke Cage.” The characters also are all outsiders who don’t particularly function well with others.
But before we get there, we’ll need to see Danny’s origin story.
“‘Iron Fist’ is no different from our other series,” says Jeph Loeb, Marvel’s Head of Television. “It has to be able to stand alone, but also has to advance the macro story.”
Our protagonist is the son of a billionaire industrialist and was thought to have died as a child with his parents in a plane crash in the Himalayas. But after 15 years away, he is back among the living.
When he shows up at headquarters for Rand Enterprises, shoeless and bedraggled, looking more homeless than heroic, no one believes that he’s really Danny Rand. Then, once the people now running the company do take him seriously, they sic assailants on him, not exactly the warmest of welcomes.
Danny counters with a mastery of martial arts, which he learned from the warrior monks who saved him. What’s more, when he concentrates on his chi and focuses it on his fist, he can floor anyone with the super strength of one very devastating punch. You’ll know it’s coming when his fist glows.
With help from Colleen Wing, a martial arts expert who runs her own dojo, and Claire Temple, a nurse, Danny will set out to restore his family legacy while also becoming the selfless hero he’s meant to be.
“He’s conflicted,” Jones says of his character. “He has these spiritual pursuits — trying to attain these very Eastern spiritual philosophies — yet he comes from a very corporate Westernized culture. I love the contradictions in both of those.”
Jones also likes the idea of making a show about a spiritually centered superhero that’s somehow grounded in realism.
“We’re taking this stuff seriously,” says Jones, who won’t be sporting a superhero costume any time soon. “It’s not just some hokey-pokey fantasy land.
“I believe that people have chi energy and I believe that there are different dimensions. I believe that anyone can go deep within themselves and find their higher voice. It’s in our nature, but we’ve forgotten it. This is one of the reasons why this project spoke to me.”
Marvel’s Iron Fist
- All 13 episodes will be available for streaming Friday.