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Marvel’s Iron Fist (Season 2) 2.1-2.6 Review

September 8, 2018 | Posted by Jeffrey Harris
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Marvel’s Iron Fist (Season 2) 2.1-2.6 Review  

Author’s Note: This is a spoiler-free review based on screeners for the first six episodes of Marvel’s Iron Fist Season 2 that were provided by Netflix.

At this year’s Comic-Con International, Marvel Studios and Netflix clearly put their best feet forward to make the hard sell for the upcoming second season of Iron Fist. The show’s first season was greatly maligned by critics, despite all the previous Marvel Netflix efforts receiving heaping amounts of critical praise.

The freshman frame of the show, while incredibly flawed, was also incredibly misunderstood. Regardless, Iron Fist Season 2 gives the show and its likable set of main characters a fresh start, thanks to new showrunner Raven Metzner. Credit to Metzner he believes in this show and characters, and he clearly put in a lot of effort to guarantee that the new season would be a better ride overall.

The biggest problem for the first season for Iron Fist was that it started off very slowly. Scott Buck was clearly the wrong man to helm the ship. Viewers were forced to watch Danny meander around and deal with being institutionalized. It’s still annoying that in the MCU people can’t accept that aliens can attack New York City, Norse deities exist and can travel to Earth, a scientist can turn into a raging green monster and that a highly advanced killer robot can try to end the world by dropping a city out of a sky, but the idea of someone like Danny Rand having superpowers and meeting a dragon is insane. That aside, while the first season of Iron Fist was not as terrible as many critics made it out to be, it had its fair share of problems. Metzner and his staff do an admirable job of fixing many of them.

For starters, the action for the show starts off a lot quicker. After the events of The Defenders, Danny Rand (Finn Jones) took what he believed were Matt Murdock’s final words to heart. He believes it’s now his responsibility to protect New York City. He’s grown more comfortable with using the Iron Fist, but the violence in Chinatown is only growing. The apparent defeat of the Hand has created a power vacuum, and the main Triad clans are jockeying for control. A gang war is about to erupt. Danny is stepping up his vigilante activities to try and keep the peace, much to the chagrin of his girlfriend Colleen Wing (Jessica Henwick). However, other forces are aware of his presence and are engineering the Iron Fist’s downfall.

Additionally, Davos (Sacha Dhawan) has emerged as one of the central antagonists this season. This gives Dhawan the opportunity to have a greatly expanded role of embodying the Steel Serpent character from the comics. He turns out to be a much more compelling antagonist than the rather underwhelming Harold Meachum of the first season.

Another major improvement to the season is the fight scenes, which definitely left something to be desired for the most part in Season 1. Season 2 starts off with Danny in much greater control of his Iron Fist abilities, but even that is made into a part of Danny’s overall character arc. While Danny has grown much more comfortable with using the Iron Fist in battle, he’s starting to become overly reliant on it, and the power that’s coursing through him is starting to guide him into trouble.

As the disappointing fight scenes were one of the major points of contention for the first season, the Comic-Con panel went very far to show that the message was heard by Marvel Studios loud and clear. Clayton Barber (Black Panther) serves as the new stunt coordinator and fight choreographer for Season 2, and his hard work pays off. The marked improvement in the fight scenes not only showcases Danny’s skills and abilities, but there are some other fantastic fight sequences involving Colleen Wing and Misty Knight (Simone Missick), who joins the cast for Season 2.

Colleen Wing’s character arc and fight scenes also play off of her own personal identity crisis, where she is trying to stay away from fighting and violence. When she finally gets the chance to cut loose again, it provides one of the best moments of the season thus far. Henwick was easily one of the breakout stars from the first season of Iron Fist, and she’s still one of the best parts of the show here.

Plus, much like Luke Cage Season 2 basically got to take a break and do a Heroes for Hire subplot, there’s a nice subplot where Colleen and Misty get to team up, and it’s basically a Daughters of the Dragon mini-arc, climaxing in another great fight scene that was among the selection shown at this year’s Comic-Con.

Another addition this season is Alice Eve playing the disturbed and mysterious Mary Walker, who fans will recognize as Typhoid Mary from the comics. Eve gets the chance to do some interesting work here in performing Mary’s multiple personalities and someone suffering from dissociative identity disorder. Unfortunately, that’s come at the cost of some of the more interesting aspects of the character.

So far, the drawbacks to Season 2 are some specific narrative and character choices. One thing that’s starting to become disappointingly prevalent throughout the Marvel Netflix line is seeing characters who are supposed to be smart repeatedly make head-scratching decisions. It was tough to ignore in later seasons of Jessica Jones and Luke Cage as well. It’s one thing for characters to make mistakes, but sometimes it appears the writing team is having the characters abandon sanity for the sake of moving the story along or giving them more obstacles.

Additionally, the Joy Meachum subplot leaves a lot to be desired. At the end of last season, there was a sudden turn for Joy Meachum that was in no way natural. This season doesn’t backtrack on that plot development, but the writers’ attempt to explain Joy’s direction leaves a lot to be desired.

This all could’ve been amended if the setup was that Joy was led to believe Danny had killed or murdered her father. But as it stands, it’s the weakest subplot for the season. Jessica Stroup is in no way a bad actress, but Raven Metzner was unable to really rectify one of the most flawed loose threads that was left dangling in the first season.

Fans who truly hated the first season of Iron Fist might not find enough in Season 2 to change their minds. But for the most part, the show displayed a superior story in its second time at bat, with a stronger focus on the good characters, better fight scenes and a more intriguing, developing plot. This is far from being the perfect Iron Fist series. The show clearly needs to embrace more of the mystical, fantasy martial arts elements from the comics, but Season 2 takes many more steps toward making Iron Fist the show it should be.

You can read our interview with Jessica Henwick about filming the second season, Colleen’s relationship with Misty Knight and more here.

The final score: review Very Good
The 411
Iron Fist is back for another season, and it's significantly better than the first. There's better action, better writing, a more focused plot and some improved character development. There are definitely still some issues with plotting, the Marvel Netflix shows aiming to be too grounded 'n' gritty for their own good some other caveats. Overall, what's been shown so far this season leaves a much stronger impression than Season 1.