Whereas Iron First Season 1 remains one of Marvel Netflix’s greatest failures, Iron Fist Season 2 goes a long way in terms of redeeming Marvel Netflix’s good name. Danny Rand’s second outing boasts a number of production shakeups and creative revamps, such as Scott Buck’s replacement by Raven Metzner as the showrunner and its inclusion of Clayton Barber as this season fight coordinator. Long gone are the days of sitting through painstaking boardroom scene’s, which offer little in the way of character development or plot progression. Instead the audience is greeted by the welcome addition of the streets of New York’s Chinatown. This new location drives much of the story’s progression and embroils the audience in the depths of the Triad war from the onset of Season 2. The second season even see’s the promotion of Jessica Henwick’s well-received Collen Wing as the series co-lead, as well as the welcome replacement of Rosario Dawson’s Claire Temple with Simone Missick’s Misty Knight. All of these subsequent changes result in a much improved and focused second season. Raven Metzner goes all out in his attempts to prove the series as being worthy of a second chance.
Whilst Iron Fist’s second installment presents the audience with a number of noticeable changes, it is the strength of this seasons refined characterizations and dynamic action sequences which prove themselves to be the shows saving grace. As a result of Clayton Barber’s contributions, Iron Fist Season 2 is able to rectify the lackluster fight scenes found within its first season. Whilst Season 1’s action sequences were marred by its incredibly janky execution, obvious use of stunt doubles, rigid performance and overly edited nature; Iron Fist Season 2 manages to give the audience much smoother and fluid fight choreography. The actors also exude a newfound comfortability when performing action sequences. This denotes the level of care, consideration and preparation which went into the production of season 2. Unlike Season 1, the series no longer has to hide haphazard or rushed action sequences, as such the actions sequence present in season feel much more organic in nature. Whilst the show is yet to match the spectacle or brutality of Daredevil, Iron Fist Season 2 does much in the way of making viewers believe it capable of someday reaching those heights.
Iron Fist’s second season flaunts the robustness of the aforementioned changes from the inception of its introductory episode. From the first episode onwards, the audience is presented with a much less insufferable depiction of Danny Rand. Having benefitted from the extensive character development found within The Defenders Season 1 and Luke Cage season 2, Finn Jones is able to imbue the character with a newfound sense of endearment and charm. Instead simply prattling on about the strength of Danny Rand’s moral character, Iron Fist finally calls into question the validity of such claims and presents the audience with an on-screen exploration of Danny’s moral character.
This strong sense of character development extends far beyond Danny rand as even the likes of Joy and Ward Meachum reap similar benefits. Joy (who previously rivalled Danny as the shows weakest link) demonstrates a new sense of complexity, autonomy and agency; all of which result in Joys transition from an ancillary damsel in distress to a hard done by and morally grey antagonist that drives much of the plot progression. Following suit, Sacha Dhawan’s villainous Davos provides the series with a much-needed sense of urgency and purpose. Davos’ complicated pseudo familial relationship galvanizes Iron Fist season 2 and consequently results in this season subsequent assessment of Danny’s competence as the Iron Fist. Apart from one major exception, Davos starts the season as a more compelling version of everything Iron Fist season 1 claims Danny to be. However, Davos’ initial unwavering sense of purpose, proficiency, brutality and morality distinguish Davos’ characterization from Danny Rand.
Nevertheless, Jessica Henwick’s’ Colleen Wing remains the series’ the series standout in terms of the main cast. Throughout the course of the season, Henwick does more than enough to justify her promotion to series co-lead; with her increased screen time heralding a deeply compelling and personal heroes-journey. Colleen Wing escapes the throes of codependency which so commonly befall characters that function as the heroes primary love interest; e.g. Luke Cage Seasons 2’s treatment of Claire Temple. Unlike Claire, Colleen Wing is able to function as a vehicle through which the audience is able to explore the emotional state of Danny Rand, whilst retaining her antonymy and agency. Whilst Colleen forces Danny to confront his emotions, she manages to escape the trap of assuming a role similar to that of a nagging mother. Instead, Colleen functions as an emotional guide who calls Danny out on his bullshit but allows him to proactively do the work necessary to sort himself out. Jessica Henwick’s Colleen Wing manages to achieve this, whilst simultaneously engaging in her own family-centric storyline and confronting her reluctance to answer the call to heroism. Newcomer, Alice Eve serves as another series highlight, giving Jessica Henwick’s Colleen Wing a run for her money. Her portrayal of Typhoid Mary, a character who suffers from dissociative identity disorder, presents the audience with an incredibly nuanced performance. Alice Eve is able to efficiently balance and juxtapose the conflicting character traits which belong to Typhoid Mary’s differing persona’s; simultaneously presenting the audience with Mary’s relative innocence/charm, whilst also easily communicating Walker’s inherent lethality. All of which, precede the exciting reveal of a much more dangerous and unpredictable third personality.
Despite the series numerous improvements, Iron Fist Season 2 is plagued by a number of flaws which hinder it from truly living up to its full potential. Although Season 2 jettisions the previous Seasons momentum killing boadrom scenes and exposition heavy formula, the series is still beset by number of issues born from poor pacing. Iron fist season continues to suffer meandering and unfocused execution; whilst the main plot remains boasts a singficaly higher level of depth than its first season, the series still fails to justify its episode count. Although Iron Fist Season sports a reduced episode count, the show continues to feel as if its overextending itself in order to achieve it’s desired episode count. There’s about 8 episodes worth of story that has been stretched out stretched out over the coarse of 10 episodes. The result is a slightly slower than desired second season which fails to reach the narrative tension and heights found within the best seasons amongst the various Marvel Netflix shows. As such, audiences forced to wait an inconvenient amount of time for a number of mediocre payoffs.
Another subsequent issue found within Iron Fist Season 2, is the series’ treatment of Colleen Wings familial storyline. Whilst the audience is treated to a compelling and deeply personal internal conflict concerning Colleens reluctance to become a hero, her familial storyline isn’t afforded the level of care and concern it deserves. Colleen’s attempts to find out more about the origins of the mysterious family heirloom she stumbles upon, Colleens quest and attempts to resolve questions concerning her heritage/family comes to a unceremonious halt once it starts to intersect with Danny’s attempts to protect the streets of Chinatown. The show later attempts to resolve this thread at the tail-end of the season in an abruptly haphazard manner. As such, the reveal of Colleen wings familial connection to the legacy of the Iron First comes across as rather inorganic and veers into the territory of forced/fanfiction.
The season also feels as if it would have benefitted from more flashback sequences in order to fully flesh out the nature of the pseudo familial relationship between Danny and Davos. Whilst the material the audience is presented with is adequate, it fails to take true advantage of the emotional/narrative payoff which should be inherent in Davos’ inclusion. Seeing as the audience only witnesses a small portion of the relationship between the two, it becomes difficult to grasp the full emotional weight of their current predicament.
Another glaring problem concerning the character of Davos, is his devolution into an irredeemable and unsympathetic villain towards the seasons end. Whilst earlier episode present Davos having some sort of moral code and method to his madness, Davos loses such nuanced character rather abruptly and the show fails to provide the audience with any real justification.
Iron Fist season 2 also fails to correct one of the greatest errors of the shows first season; the series lack of K’un-Lun continues to present a rather egregious oversight. As of right now, Danny has spent both seasons of Iron Fist and the majority of his appearance during the defenders alluding to the mysterious mystical city, yet all the audience has been given is few paltry flashback scenes. The shows failure to undergo the necessary world-building processes continues to be a great disappointment and the sparse inclusion of the Iron Fist mythos fails to make series any less underwhelming for those expecting to get some of the source materials more fantastical elements.
The series also continues to prove itself to rather lackluster on a tonal and stylistic level. Whilst the other Marvel Netflix shows distinguish themselves through of stylistic and tonal cues, such as Luke Cage’s reliance on music or Jessica Jones’s foray into the Noir-Detective genre, Iron Fist season 2 remains unequivocally tonally generic. As such the show feels like it is yet to find its identity.