Written by Rick Warren / gfn21
I enjoyed the first season of Iron Fist more than most, but there was no denying that it was deeply flawed. The writing was cheesy, the villains were weak, fight scenes fell flat, and all the flaws came together to make for a boring show and a boring lead character. Danny Rand fared a bit better in The Defenders, but he still wasn’t reaching his full potential. Questions soon came up as to whether it was Finn Jones as an actor that was holding Iron Fist back, but I never saw it that way. Still, Iron Fist was running out of chances. Thankfully, things finally took a turn for the best when he made his cameo in Luke Cage. With better writing, Danny seemed confident, relaxed, funny and badass. He might not have had the costume, but he finally felt like the Iron Fist from the comics that everyone was dying to see. That episode had me excited to see more Iron Fist, and it proved that the character was worthy of another chance.
So, here we are; Iron Fist season 2. Are things better this time around or does the sophomore season prove just as lackluster as the original? Read on to find out!
--- Warning: Spoilers Beyond This Point! ---
A Step In The Right Direction
It doesn’t take long to realize that Scott Buck is no longer involved with Iron Fist, something that will be a huge relief to those who suffered through the first season or the even more disastrous Inhumans. From the opening moments some stronger choreography is shown off, and there are some truly spectacular fights in nearly every episode. The lower episode count (10 episode as opposed to the standard 13) is beneficial, as the show’s pacing is more appropriate. Most importantly, the actors have more to work with this time around due to some much stronger writing.
Perhaps the most surprising character arc this season is that of Ward Meachum. While he’s still a self-destructive character, the writers make his struggles interesting this time around. Tom Pelphrey displays Ward's flaws perfectly by nailing the serious moments in addition to his character’s dry humor. One scene in particular, where he explains to his sister Joy why he handled the situation with their father the way he did, is a beautifully acted moment of redemption for Ward. His relationship with Danny is entertaining as well, and their scenes together this season are miles ahead of the moments they spent together in season one.
Iron Fist's improved writing truly gets to shine when it comes to the show’s new, standout character: Bloody Mary. While she’s traditionally known for her role in Daredevil’s comics, Mary works just fine here due to Alice Eve’s phenomenal performance. Playing a character with multiple personalities is a difficult task, but Eve does so effortlessly. Whether it’s the way she speaks or the way she uses body language, it’s easy to tell whether the innocent Mary or the badass Walker is her active identity. There’s a nice connection to the MCU movies within her backstory, and the tease of the Bloody Mary alter ego in the season finale is wildly exciting. She’s not quite an antagonist either, which makes her even more intriguing. Mary’s diverse background and skillset makes it possible for her to appear in almost every Marvel Netflix series, and every series could benefit from having her as part of the cast.
Colleen Wing was the saving grace of Iron Fist season one, so it’s nice to see her play such a large role in the plot of this season. She’s less of a supporting character than she is a protagonist, as she spends more time kicking ass than Danny Rand and is just important to the plot as the Immortal Iron Fist himself. Every fight she’s in is a pleasure to watch, and her moments with Misty Knight are sure to bring joy to fans of the source material. Colleen getting an awesome-looking white Iron Fist of her own was a great surprise, and it’s only outdone by the sight of her channeling that energy to her sword in the season’s final moments. Danny using Orson Randall’s guns afterwards makes the finale even more satisfying, and it’s nice to see the showrunners start leaning into the more fantastical elements of Iron Fist’s lore. With the show finally delivering a powered-up Danny and Colleen, season three needs to happen soon.
Even with all the great character work this time around, Iron Fist can undoubtedly still be improved upon.
Davos, the season’s main antagonist, is a mixed bag. He’s certainly a badass, as he has some of the season’s smoothest fight scenes under his belt, but he’s also very one dimensional. He’s jealous of Danny, and he’s very angry... and that’s about all there is to him. It’s fun to watch him fight (especially when he starts dual wielding the Iron Fist), but it’s far less engaging to see him talk to Joy about his plan to clean up the city.
Speaking of Joy, she’s just as frustrating as she was in the last season. Her sudden villain turn is never explained all that well, and when Danny and Ward prove that they’re not deserving of her hatred, she fails to see reason. Instead, she acts so childish for so long that that it’s impossible to feel any sympathy for her as the season comes to a close. Jessica Stroup has very little to work with so it’s not her fault, but honestly, this is a show that would be much better off without Joy Meachum.
Finally, it’s time to address the superhero in the room: Finn Jones’ Danny Rand. Sadly, though, there’s not that much to say about his role in the season. To be clear, he’s undeniably more likable than he was in season one, and it’s great to see him light up the fist in just about all his fights. At the very least Finn Jones proved he isn’t the issue, and neither is the character he plays. Instead, the problem comes from how little he’s used.
Colleen is great, but it’s a shame that her and Danny couldn’t share the spotlight. While the writers made plenty of good choices, their biggest mistake was choosing to shove Danny into the background. At the midpoint of the season, he breaks his leg and he loses the Iron Fist. His conflict with Davos is still addressed, but Danny's role in the last few episodes is surprisingly (and disappointingly) small. For a character who has yet to reach his full potential and needs to prove himself, being sidelined for half of the show isn’t the best of looks. After two full seasons, a spot in The Defenders, and a Luke Cage cameo, Danny Rand still isn’t the Iron Fist he could be. With the show being in a much better place now, there is no excuse to stop Danny from always being as cool as he is in the final scene. For those hoping to finally see Danny at his best, they'll be left unsatisfied yet again.
Iron Fist may not be perfect, but it is much better than it was in its debut season. Davos is a one-dimensional villain and Joy is wildly frustrating, but Bloody Mary’s excellence makes up for their flaws. Ward has become a great supporting character, and Colleen Wing is better than ever. Fight scenes are stylish and well-choreographed, while the ending sets up an awesome third season. Let’s hope it happens, because there's still nobody that can benefit more from new episodes than Danny Rand.
Iron Fist’s second season is good, but not necessarily because of Iron Fist.
Alice Eve’s Bloody Mary +1.5
Fight Scenes Greatly Improved +1
Ward’s Surprisingly Strong Arc +1
Coleen Becoming The Focus +1
A Promising Ending +.5
A One-Dimensional Davos and an Annoying Joy -.75
Danny Being Sidelined So Often -.75
FINAL SCORE: 3.5/5