It goes almost without saying that Iron Fist was, by and large, the weakest of the Marvel/Netflix shows. Which took many by surprise given how well the service had done with Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage. And yet, they failed with Iron Fist, and it got a lot of negative reviews and message online. Still, Marvel and Netflix renewed the series, and fought hard to make it better in every way. As you’ll see in this Iron Fist Season 2 Review they did…and they also didn’t.
I want to start this Iron Fist Season 2 review by saying that I WILL be giving this season a better score than season 1, which I gave a 2.5 on another site. So there is that, and in the biggest ways, they did help fix the mistakes that season 1 did.
For example, in Season 1, the plot was all over the place. It went from the arrival of Danny in New York, to fighting to secure Danny’s place at Rand, to the Hand, to not the Hand, back to the Hand, dealing with Harold Meachem, and on and on. Here, it’s much more focused. After Defenders (which I personally still hope gets a second season), the power vacuum in New York is larger than its ever been. And in Chinatown especially, a war is brewing between factions. Danny, honoring Murdock’s last words to him in Defenders, has taken to trying to stop the escalation on the streets. All the while, Davos and Joy Meachem have teamed up to try and take the Iron Fist from Danny.
While this may seem like a similar thing, it’s not, or at the very least, not in how it’s presented. The focus is much more clear. In fact, it’s a little like Daredevil Season 2, in how the story is in “pods” (i.e. Punisher, Punisher Trial, Hand/Eletrka, etc.). The first three episodes are about Danny dealing with the gang wars and family issues, then Davos strikes and takes the Iron Fist and begins his own crusade, and finally, the mission to take down Davos and get back the fist. It’s simple, but it works, it truly does.
One of the other big issues with Season 1 was the villains. Madame Gao was great, but Bakuto and Harold Meachem left something to be desired. Especially Harold Meachem, who broke all manner of plot over the course of the season only to become the most over-the-top villain the MCU has ever had (and Ant-Man had Yellowjacket, who was a close second). Here though, the focus was almost always on Davos. It was as much his season story wise as anyone else. And I’m happy to say that he is one of the stronger villains in the MCU.
He was one of the best characters in Iron Fist Season 1 despite his short screen time. And here, we got to see more of his backstory, from how he met Danny, to how they became friends and brothers, to the fight that would change their lives forever. Then, when he became the Iron Fist himself, or the Steel Serpent (though not overtly called that) he wasn’t a villain at first. He was trying to do good, but then he fell from the path, and it showed, and it worked in how they showed it.
That being said, I’m still very upset that Joy Meachem was made a villain for no reason. She was meant to be one of the “cliffhangers” from Season 1 (unknowingly being manipulated by Madame Gao), but with Gao dead, there was a way to have an out, but they didn’t take it. Instead, they had Joy and Davos “somehow” meet in Paris and discuss the plan to take out Danny via removing the Iron Fist.
Oh, but when the deed was done, Joy felt bad! And then turned the other cheek and tried to stop Davos because she realized that something was wrong! Really? You abused friends, strong-armed your family, and did other things in order to get the ceremony to happen…and then you realize it was a bad idea? I know that there are villains who want revenge and then regret taking it, that’s fine. But with Joy, it never felt believable in the first place. They even had her explain why she was going after Danny and it STILL didn’t make sense. Even Ward (who I’ll get to) was like, “I get you blaming me, by why take it out on Danny?”
That’s the question we were all asking!!!
The supporting cast was much stronger in this season no doubt. Ward was actually much less of a jerk, and seeing him try and go through NA (Narcoutics Anonymous) to try and get better after Season 1 was good. As was him trying to get better with Joy, with Danny, and with himself. I do wish though that they allowed him more progress, especially when he found out he had a son. His “baby mama” basically shut down his attempt to be there for him…and it felt weird. Hopefully Season 3 will be better on that front.
Colleen, as always, was on point. She was another of the few bright spots in the first season, and it continued here. From her relationship with Danny, to wanting to find out more about her family, to her friendship with Misty, and her desire to save the neighborhood in her own way, it felt really genuine.
Oh yeah, and Misty Knight is back! She was great in Luke Cage Season 2, and she got to show off her skills more here, especially with her new arm. And if you aren’t wanting a “Daughters Of The Dragon” spinoff after this season? You must be crazed.
The only real “new” addition to this season was that of Typhoid Mary, played by Alice Eve. And her role in the story was…mixed. In case you don’t know, Typhoid Mary is a perrenial Daredevil villain, and she does indeed have split personalities. But…she also has superpowers. Here though, she’s depicted as an assassin that was former Spec Ops and now has split personalities that she can’t always control.
Granted, at times, her role was vital. But by the end, it was a little…rough. And the “cliffhanger” with her sticking around to “use” Joy Meachem in order to find out about her third “alter” was a bit weird. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad that she didn’t get killed off (which was an option obviously), but given all the effort put into her story, it just didn’t work for me.
Over 1000 words into this, Iron Fist Season 2 Review and I’m only NOW talking about Danny Rand. Does that worry you? It should. One of my final big complaints about Iron Fist season 1 is that Danny Rand didn’t have much of a personality. Worse though, he had a flickering one, it would change constantly. In Luke Cage Season 2 (which clearly took place timeline wise before this), Danny visited Luke for an episode and helped him with the situation with Black Mariah. That one episode was better for Danny than the entire first season of Iron Fist. In season 2 though? It ws still pretty uneven.
At times, he would be calm and rational like he was in that Luke Cage episode, other times he was way too naive (this was excusable in Season 1, not so much here). And then we learn mid season that he was “struggling” to be the Iron Fist in regards to his path and destiny. Really? Because he seemed to have a clear path when he was stopping that gang war. Plus, by the end of the season, he willingly chose not to be the Iron Fist, and give it to Colleen! Which was good in context, because of things I’ll mention soon, but it made Danny even more irrelevant, especially when compared to characters like Colleen and Davos.
Then there’s the fight scenes. To be fair, they were MUCH better than Season 1. But they still had WAY too many jump cuts. With all the references to Asian culture in the show, you’d think they’d take a more Asian cinema approach to the fight scenes. But they don’t, and many fights could have been better without the numerous jump cuts. Again, they WERE better, but they still have to improve. Plus, I still think Danny got beat up on way too much at times.
My final complaint for this Iron Fist Season 2 review is something I honestly never expected to critcize…comic lore.
By the end of the season, Colleen is the new Iron Fist (complete with tattoo), and then Danny goes off on a mission to find the man who helped Davos get the Iron Fist. Here, we find out that a man named Orson Randall was behind it, and he had weapons that (apparently) lets Danny reharness his Iron Fist abilities in a way.
Compelling? Yes. Convenient? Yes. But that’s the rub, all of this is supported by Iron Fist comic lore. Which is awesome…if people outside of comic readers knew that. In fact, the lore that is revealed in the final episode ties directly into the Immortal Iron Fist comic that ran a decade back. It revealed how Colleen is the descendant of the first female Iron Fist (who also used a sword to channel her chi like above), and that Orson Randall was the Iron Fist before Danny, and that he knew his father. This is awesome connections to the comics…but it’s going to go over all non-comic readers heads, especially those (like me) who never read that comic. And to those who don’t look up those comic connections, it’s not going to make sense what happened, and it will leave Danny’s decision to give Colleen the Iron Fist feeling hollow. Heck, even knowing about the comic connections, it still feels a bit a hollow.
In the end, Iron Fist Season 2 did a better job of making the show feel like it belonged in the Marvel/Netflix universe. There were good points, but there were bad points. But I do feel this was a good showing, and I would recommend it as something to watch…but only once.
Iron Fist Season 2 Review
Iron Fist Season 2 is far and away better than the first season. But while things have improved, there are some nagging issues that hold it back.