Spoiler Warning: The following review contains spoilers for the second season of Iron Fist. Please read at your own risk!
Last weekend, Marvel’s Iron Fist returned to Netflix for its second season. If you read my last piece on the Netflix shows, you’ll know I wasn’t a huge fan of Danny Rand’s (Finn Jones) inaugural season. (Hint: “Booty cheeks.”) However, season two feels like a 180, and that’s exactly where they need to be.
Picking up after both the first season and The Defenders, Danny has been doing his best to keep the streets safe in the absence of both Daredevil and the Hand — while also balancing a blue-collar job in Chinatown. Colleen Wing (Jessica Henwick) has been volunteering at the local community center helping Chinese immigrants. Ward Meachum (Tom Pelphrey) runs Rand Enterprises by day and attends Narcotics Anonymous by night.
The plot is set into motion after Joy Meachum (Jessica Stroup) contacts Ward and Danny to divest her interests from the company. She claims she wants to go solo, but is “secretly” in cahoots with Davos (Sacha Dhawan), Danny’s K’un L’un training partner and fellow heir to the Iron Fist. Their revenge plot is admittedly convoluted — like Civil War Zemo or BvS Lex “Riddler” Luthor convoluted. But that, and the other weak plot points, are carried by fantastic acting this time around. Especially from Finn Jones, who finally feels like a character in his own series.
Season two gives audiences a chance to do something that was lacking last time: We get to give a shit about Danny Rand. Rather than being lost, whiny, and entitled, Jones gets to portray Danny as a man in search of an identity divorced from supernatural and financial power. Despite his hard work and training, he has lived a life of inheritance — both of wealth and the Iron Fist itself. He has no idea who he is, and that hurts him on a personal level. Exploring how his power has affected him and his loved ones is what ultimately makes this season work — even in its weaker moments.
Henwick’s Colleen Wing is trying to keep out of the vigilante game, but the looming threat of a Triad war and the dangers it presents ultimately draw her back into it — along with Detective Misty Knight (Simone Missick). And Ward, the most interesting civilian, is on the road to recovery after the death of his father and the exile of his sister. Danny, and his career, are all he has left.
Meanwhile, Dhawan’s Davos (Steel Serpent in the comics) gets some much-needed screen time, which he spends kicking ass, blaming Danny for the fall of K’un L’un, constantly working to reclaim his “birthright”. Joy is still hurt from Danny and Ward keeping the truth about her father from her, to the point that she all but becomes him and aligns herself with criminals and killers. Alice Eve’s Mary Walker (Typhoid Mary in the comics) is like The Punisher with an interesting twist.Fight choreography was drastically improved this season. Check Netflix’s fight breakdown above!
The action in this season saw a much-needed improvement. The first season’s fight sequences looked like they came from a ’70s C-movie with YouTube-level choreography (and that’s me being generous). This season? They got the coordinators from the Black Panther movie for crying out loud! It felt similar to the action boost between the first two Captain America films — which is exactly what you want in a story with a bunch of martial artists.
Iron Fist’s second season is far from perfect. The writing, while more enjoyable, still needs work. There are still too many quick cuts during the action. And the shorter season (ten episodes, for once!) lends itself to some rushed plot resolution. But the action, acting, and character-driven narrative have managed to rescue this series from the dumpster fire that was last season.
They seem to have learned two things: 1) more time is always better, and 2) keep Scott Buck away from everything. You saw what he did to Inhumans, man!
The Verdict: 7/10