A big failure on the part of the series was how badly they executed Danny’s “double life”.
I would have definitely kept the Meachum family arc and development. They are, admittedly, one of the series’ stronger points. But please, let’s do away with the semi-amnesiac and asylum arc. Those scenes felt like a forced attempt to add drama and intrigue.
The first 7 episodes come off clunky. Again, I can only attribute that to Scott Buck’s aversion from the original mythos, and what frankly feels like a need to satisfy his writer kink for slow-reveal mystery.
Danny is the champion of the Heavenly City, a place that has perfected combat. It doesn’t make sense that drugs at the asylum would keep him down.
Buck really should have gone back to the source material.
I cannot say this enough. There are enough elements to play around with and no shortage of ways to explore how to best introduce Danny to all audiences. I previously mentioned Fraction and Brubaker, and did so with good reason. Fraction and Brubaker worked so hard to re-envision the Iron Fist mythos in a fairly comprehensive arc that ended up spanning 3 years. Netflix’s adaptation could have taken tips from that. Doing so would have given more depth to the newest addition in a fairly impressive street hero line-up.
How would I have liked to see it?
Danny doesn’t leave K’un-Lun with amnesia. Danny leaves K’un-Lun because he can’t let go of his worldly attachments. He needs to learn what happened to his family. And he will rain righteous, heavenly, vengeance when he discovers the culprit behind their deaths.
Where better to find out the truth than to go back to the company with his name on it, now renamed as Rand-Meachum.
As a true warrior, slinking in the dark is not an option when a direct approach is available: walk into his building, ask for the party whom he has an issue with, and deal with it. He doesn’t have to scream to the world that he’s the Iron Fist, because even Danny would know how crazy that sounds.
“Hi, I’d like to speak with Harold Meachum.”
Have him bust through Security to get to the head office, the way see him do in the show. Let him find Ward and Joy, discover that Harold is dead, and play the aftermath of that scene all the way up to where he’s escorted off the building premises. Netflix can even keep Ward sending people out to kill him, because it would be so satisfying to see how Danny subsequently wipes them all over the floor. But here is where it all has to change:
After Danny tells Shannon to inform Ward that there will be a reckoning, cut to him returning to his place in the park. Here, he finds Big Al dead and the symbol of the Steel Serpent on the other man’s arm. Danny doesn’t have to know much about the Steel Serpent; he only needs to acknowledge that it’s related to K’un-Lun.
Seeing the symbol of the Steel Serpent is the straw the breaks the camel’s back. The reckoning will be tonight. He will get rid himself of the distraction that is composed of his ties to his former life, and then he will deal with the mark of the Steel Serpent.
This would be the perfect point to have Danny open up his backpack and unpack a leather case which holds what appears to be clothing in themes of yellow, green, and black. Cue to Danny Rand putting on the ceremonial garb of the Iron Fist.
The whole point of
K’un-Lun Zen Heaven, is that it is the one place (not) on earth where you could get past All Worldly Attachments. Even then, Danny couldn’t.
Scott Buck’s statement of “Danny won’t wear a costume because it doesn’t make sense” is entirely uninformed. Danny’s garb is not a “superhero costume”. It is the uniform of the Iron Fist. And while this might differ per Iron Fist, it will bear a relatively similar design and theme.
But let’s go back to the discussion. On a matter of honor, Danny cannot idly stand by as Ward sends thugs to kill him in such an underhanded fashion. I can see him heading down to the Rand-Meachum building, garbed in ceremonial attire, kicking ass in a fight scene that’s as epic as Daredevil Season 1’s “Hallway Scene”. From there he makes a beeline for Ward’s Office and with no lies about his identity, just omissions of fact, he tells Ward that the Iron Fist will not stand for such dishonorable methods such as sending hired thugs to kill an innocent man.
Danny could even say how it’d be stupid for Ward to bring this up with the authorities or the media. After all, who in their right mind would believe Ward if he said that a masked man came into his office and threatened him with justice.
(This would be amusing to play out. By virtue of a shared universe, it’s inevitable that Danny will learn about the existence of Daredevil and other costumed vigilantes. That, and Danny probably forgot about the CCTVs.)
I imagine this would be sufficient enough to keep Ward from trying to kill him again. This also allows Danny to go about the legal-corporate angle of the story with Jeri Hogarth, as well keep the really good parts from the Meachum arc and development.
How do we tie in the Hand?
The Iron Fist attacking Ward would most definitely catch Harold Meachum’s attention. Instead of being an unwilling captive, I think that Harold should have been a lieutenant of the Hand. This would have given him more agency as a character. Having identified a threat on his son’s life, it would make sense for him – a loyal subordinate of The Hand – to mobilize his people.
The appearance of this masked outsider is a problem. They don’t know it’s Danny Rand – they’re only hunting the Iron Fist. Playing things out this way means that Harold still has to deal with the individual claiming to be “Danny Rand”. A boy who, as far as he knows, was killed 15 years before.
Angling the plot this way, could have shown Danny kicking ass both in and out of ceremonial garb. This would also successfully weave the two plot points, supporting the whole idea that “it’s better if nobody learns that he is the Iron Fist”. At least, after everything is sorted out.
I’d personally prefer to remove the Hand angle altogether. But I acknowledge that I’ve yet to see how things execute in Episodes 8 to 13. Until I finish the second half of the season, I’ll leave my “How It Should Have Gone Down” suggestion at that.
Final installment! More feelings on combat art, narrative relevance, and even more thoughts on why Iron Fist failed so hard.