Iron Fist S01E01: Snow Gives Way
Director: John Dahl
Starring: Scott Buck
Writer: David Wenham, Jessica Stroup, Finn Jones
A review by Stephanie Cooke
I’m going to start off this review by stating very clearly that I’m on Team Stop Hollywood Whitewashing, especially when a TV show or movie deals with subject matter such as, oh I don’t know, say martial or mystic arts. I just believe that we need to give these roles to Asian actors and actresses. That being said, let me go into my review for the first episode of Netflix’s Iron Fist which will be available to stream on March 17.
In the title role of Iron Fist is Finn Jones, who you’ll most likely know as Loras Tyrell from HBO’s Game of Thrones. Good ol’ Fisty doesn’t just run around by that title though and around New York City he prefers the name Danny Rand. Danny has been MIA from the city for 15 years after the private jet he was on, along with his parents, crashed in the Himalayas (sad face). This episode kicks off with Danny’s return to NYC, where he tries to pick up where he left off and figure out what has happened in his time away.
It very much feels like an alternate Green Arrow story where instead of Ollie being stranded on an island, he’s been stranded in the mountains learning about martial arts and plotting his return.
Unlike Oliver though, Danny has a lot of trouble returning to his world. Oliver was an adult when he was shipwrecked and was thus recognized when he came back to Star City. Danny was a child when the plane crashed and has now grown into an adult that no one has seen. He has no living relatives and no way to prove his claim to the Rand name.
Rand’s family company is now run by the Meachums, who do not want to accept that Danny is back, despite his efforts to convince them of who he is. The first episode revolves around the back and forth between the characters as Danny tries to find the answers he needs to move forward in his life.
I went into this show cringing and expecting the worst from it. The trailers definitely show Rand explaining martial arts and such to some of the female POC in the show and I wasn’t looking forward to seeing it, even with the context of the full show. Thankfully that didn’t happen in Snow Gives Way. It feels as though Marvel and Netflix are actively trying to draw in the naysayers in an effort to show them that Finn Jones does, in fact, work as Danny Rand… although after one episode, I’m still not convinced of this.
I have to say that ultimately and objectively, I liked Snow Gives Way. It was hard going into the show thinking about trying to have sympathy for a bajillionaire white dude with superpowers who’s trying to convince us that his life sucks but I was mostly impressed by what I saw. I felt for Rand’s plight and wanted him to get what he came to NYC for. His motives (at least in the first episode) feel pure and going back to the comparison of Danny Rand to Oliver Queen, Queen felt like he was still a selfish ass when he came back to Star City that was full of a different kind of arrogance than the kind he left with. He improves and becomes a better person over time but he wants his company, his money and his life back. Rand’s story doesn’t have that feel to it right now. He doesn’t feel driven by money or power (at least the business kind of power), but rather just his need to have answers regarding his past.
The rest of the show has stereotypical roles for the POC, including ninjas garbed in all black, trained in martial arts (all stuff we’ve seen in the trailers), but the first episode didn’t touch on that and definitely made me curious about the remaining episodes. Knowing the way that Marvel intertwines their universes, I also just feel compelled to watch the rest of the show to be able to get the most out of the shows that follow, including The Defenders, in which Iron Fist will play a prominent role along with Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage.
Based on the first episode alone, I would say check it out. I am well aware that the show inherently has problems simply with Finn Jones as the lead, but with those set aside, I did enjoy what I saw so far. It’s not exceptionally fast-paced and/or action driven but I’m curious about the supporting characters they’re setting up within the show including Colleen Wing (played by Jessica Henwick).
As mentioned, if you feel really morally conscious about the show and you don’t want to support the show for the whitewashing reasons, I can’t personally hold that against you because I felt the exact same way. However, as a reviewer and a geek, and as someone with no prior knowledge of Iron Fist, I did like what I saw. I’ll check out the following episodes and hope for the best there as well.