Iron Fist is often viewed as the low point in the Netflix Marvel saga, and certainly suffered due to a rushed production schedule brought about by The Defenders team up event. Can the second season repair some of the damage done to the comic book martial artists’ reputation?
Danny Rand (Finn Jones) has settled into his new life in New York. The former defender of the mystical land of K’un Lun, has taken up the fallen Daredevil’s mantle as protector of the city, and despite being intoxicated by the power granted to him by the dragon, has found a degree of peace in his relationship with Colleen Wing (Jessica Henwick). His past is never far behind him, as both his former childhood friend Joy Meachum (Jessica Stroup), and his former K’un Lun sparring partner, Davos (Sacha Dhawan), find common cause to avenge the perceived wrongs that Danny has inflicted on them.
Season two is certainly an improvement over the first. Perhaps most importantly, certainly for a character that was inspired by the emerging kung fu cinema of the 70s, the fight choreography is actually good. No longer are the fight and stunt coordinators rushing to get the series out on a tight deadline (forced by the set in stone premiere date for The Defenders), so they can give the actors the appropriate training to appear competent on screen. This also allows for the fights to be not so rapidly edited, so we get a proper flow to the action, rather than the in close rapidly edited that attempt to cover a multitude of sins in action films. As such we get some stunning set pieces, which means audiences can appreciate the martial arts prowess of Danny and Colleen (once again demonstrating why Netflix needs to do a Daughters of the Dragon series).
Secondly the script has developed characters, enabling an address of some of the flaws from the previous season. Danny has grown in New York, tempering the arrogant childish bravado and self-righteousness which characterised him initially. He is also growing through the course of the season, struggling with the temptation of power provided by the Iron Fist. In that way the second season of Iron Fist touches upon a similar theme of toxic masculinity that Luke Cage touched upon as part of its season arc, but tilts it in a very different direction thanks to the different dynamics of Colleen and Danny’s relationship. It also provides a good counterpoint to Davos’ misguided certainties.
Finally, Iron Fist takes the wise move of only having 10 episodes this season. Bravo! Hence this doesn’t drag as other recent Marvel seasons have, providing more bang for your buck, and less filler.
The downside is it doesn’t quite stick the landing. The elements are there, and we do get a satisfactory pay-off, but it doesn’t manage to live up to the hype. Season two does lay extensive groundwork for season three, but this means a protracted denouement in the final episode, again robbing that climax of some of its effectiveness. Nothing earth shattering, but slightly detrimental to the overall quality.
In all, season two of Iron Fist is an improvement from the first, correcting many of the issues from that season, and sets the series in good stead for the future.