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Iron Fist – Snow Gives Way (Review)

So, what is Iron Fist about?

To be fair, it is a tough question to answer. The final Netflix series, publicised as “the Last Defender”, seems to have been a hard sell. Indeed, the emphasis on the show’s position as “the Last Defender” recalls the marketing of Captain America: The First Avenger. In both cases, Marvel was selling a property that posed a creative challenge by tethering it to a looming mass-market crossover, counting on its position as “the last piece of the puzzle” to draw in audiences that might otherwise hold little interest in the material.

Fist first.

And, by and large, Iron Fist is defined by these outside demands. Any audience member trying to figure out what Iron Fist is or what purpose it serves will arguably get a better sense of that by tracing the outline established by the other Marvel Netflix shows. Iron Fist is not a television show that defines itself, instead existing in a narrative and marketing space that has already been defined for it by the demands of other multimedia. Iron Fist is not so much a television show as a bunch of stuff that fits in that space before The Defenders.

That much is evident even as early as Snow Gives Way, the first episode of the Netflix series. The pilot is arguably as instructive in what it fails to do as it is in what it actually accomplishes. It eats up fifty minutes of airtime without providing the audience with any real sense of who these people are, what they want, or what the series is trying to say that isn’t on the agenda already set up by the other Marvel Netflix shows.

He’s acting. Really hard.

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The Immortal Iron Fist Omnibus

My name is Daniel Rand. I am the Immortal Iron Fist. And though it may be in chaos, my world just got a little bigger. My sense of self has grown ten thousandfold.

– Danny Rand reflects on the first half of his run

Who the hell is the Immortal Iron Fist, I hear you ask? It’s a good question. The character traces his roots back to 1974, with Marvel attempting to work off the success of the period’s kung-fu films with a line of martial arts comics. Just like they used to have western comics and war comics and so on. However, the character – despite enjoying success at the time and creating a vocal supportive fan base – never really breached pop culture consciousness in the same way that the truly big comic book characters did. He remained mostly a cult figure, beloved of some and virtually unknown to others. Matt Fraction and Ed Brubaker, two very talented comic book creators who had recently found a home at Marvel, decided to stage a revival of the character in the middle of the last decade. Apparently Marvel was so happen with the result that they omnibus’ed it, releasing it in one giant collection.

Okay, maybe ‘giant’ is exaggerating, but it’s certainly impressive.

Everybody was kung-fu fighting...

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