As part of a planned Marvel series (Defenders, due in late summer 2017), Netflix has released four separate prelude series starring each of the individual heroes. This is the last to be released; the excellent Jessica Jones is another, along with Daredevil and Luke Cage. All of the series center around a troubled, conflicted hero and have a dark, gritty quality. All are set in New York, so that helps with the gritty.
The premise of Iron Fist: a young boy is the sole survivor of a plane crash in the mountains of China. He is rescued by two warrior monks of an obscure order. He is raised as one of them and taught to fight to protect their way of life. He is given the distinct honor of becoming the Iron Fist, the defender of the pass into their secret monastery. When he focuses his chi, his fist glows yellow and he can punch things really, really hard.
His troubled nature: his parents both died in the plane crash; he’s really, really rich, but when he goes back to New York, he finds his daddy’s company has been taken over by the children of his business partner, and they are not initially very happy to see him. He has also been taught to swallow all his anger, and we who are more accustomed to Western psychological principles know this is very, very bad.
Ok, so it’s pretty stupid. The lead actor, Finn Jones, does just a passable job. I guess it’s difficult to find a great actor who can also convincingly act “martial arts” and make his fist glow. The most compelling part of this story is what’s going on with the business partner and his kids, specifically the son played by Tom Pelphrey. Good daddy issues drama there, and easily the most interesting performance of the show. In fact, so good, it made me watch the next episode, twelve times, and is squeaking out a “yes” from me for the whole series.