Be honest, did anyone want another season of Iron Fist? Marvel’s introduction of the outlier when it comes to the New York set corner of the Netflix-Marvel addition to their broader universe was of questionable quality to say the least. Danny Rand, essentially a variant on both Bruce Wayne and Oliver Queen by way of Bruce Lee, just didn’t under Scott Buck’s tenure fit the otherwise grungy, street-level, slow-burn theatrics of contemporaries Daredevil, Jessica Jones or Luke Cage. With new show runner Raven Metzner in charge, Iron Fist attempts a course correction.
The second season, chiefly, makes a point of grounding Danny. Finn Jones had an effervescent earnestness during the first year which bordered on irritating, as he brought a certain po-faced commitment to being the titular Iron Fist of K’un-Lun to a New York filled with mysterious ancient societies and villainous corporate CEO’s. The Defenders, and particularly a guest appearance in Luke Cage Season 2 actually did Danny some good, because he’s much less frustrating in this second run. Primarily this is thanks to the fact he is partnered, frequently, with easily Iron Fist’s best asset: Jessica Henwick’s Colleen Wing.
If the first season attempted to tell a broad story about Danny fighting for his birthright against the villainous Meecham’s running Rand Enterprises, the second year is as much Colleen’s story as Danny’s. She truly comes into her own as Danny’s partner (both physical and emotional, even if there’s a strange sexlessness between she & Danny throughout), his friend and ultimately his mentor. Colleen has just the right blend of femininity, girl power and humour to make her eminently watchable, particularly again when she’s in the company of Det. Misty Knight, as Simone Missick transfers for duty for the majority of Iron Fist after the two memorably helped each other out during, again, an episode of Luke Cage S2.
Danny in many ways feels part more of a patchwork and tapestry this season than attempting to front-load him last year as the main character, because honestly Jones doesn’t have the range, nor Danny the strength, to carry a show on his own. Iron Fist improves this year because Metzner leans into Colleen, deepens characters such as Ward (Tom Pelphrey) who morphs from annoying, cheesy corporate bad guy into a rounded, flawed and slightly tragic player, and introduces Alice Eve as Mary – a character Marvel comic fans may enjoy seeing emerge, given she could well develop into a major antagonist for the Marvel-Netflix corner in time, who Eve plays with a skilled balance (or perhaps unbalance) of emotions.
If there are problems, they again come from the villainy, which is frequently an issue when it comes to Marvel properties. Sacha Dhawan easily wins the award for the dullest bad guy in on-screen Marvel history as Davos (I whispered Davros every time *every time* someone said his name), as he blossoms into the main threat following last season, given how Metzner attempts to both ground the narrative and explore the mythology of K’un-Lun at the same time; seriously, Davos makes Malekith from Thor: The Dark World look like Thanos. Equally, Joy Meecham (Jessica Stroup) unconvincingly develops into a sly, calculating she-devil before flip flopping all over the place – she’s just tiresome, especially when plotting with Davos (Davros).
The good news is that Iron Fist is only ten episodes, the first Marvel series to not have thirteen (and not one of them has needed those extra three hours), but even then there isn’t quite enough plot at times to prevent the narrative dragging. The show is without question more solid, less flighty or poorly choreographed, and is written more in line with the rest of the Marvel-Netflix corner, but it remains the most disposable of all of these series. Honestly, Danny Rand would work better popping up on other shows and helping out, or indeed if one day partnered with Luke Cage in a ‘Heroes For Hire’ series. He works much better as part of a team, without the need for a laboured, emotional arc. Sorry, he just ain’t a strong enough hero to warrant it.
One for Marvel completists only, Iron Fist. An improvement but anything that warrants a third season of investment? Not really. Let’s have more of The Punisher instead.
Iron Fist: Season 2 is now available on Netflix.