A flawed but fun second season that improves greatly on the first. Netflix’s first season of “Iron Fist” is generally considered one of the worst received properties in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, second only to “Inhumans,” a series cancelled after its first season mainly due to the showrunner of both series, Scott Buck, known for other critically panned series such as the last seasons of Showtime’s “Dexter.” Now that he has been replaced by a newcomer (kudos to Marvel TV for catching on about fan backlash and critical reception) by the name of M. Raven Metzner, I was very excited. Specifically, when the character and the actors get a season of TV they actually deserve after the awful first season, which was marred with awful writing across the board in nearly every aspect coupled with awful fight scenes.
While it still has flaws in common with other Netflix Marvel shows, I really enjoyed the second season of “Iron Fist.” Finn Jones was given awful material in the first season as Danny Rand/Iron Fist and always came off as whiny and childish, but I really enjoyed his screentime overall. Jessica Henwick returns as Colleen Wing, and Jessica Stroup and Tom Pelphrey return as Joy and Ward Meachum, all given considerable screentime as well.
My favorite part of the first season was definitely Pelphrey. While he doesn’t have as much material as he did in the first season, Pelphrey continued to knock it out of the park as Ward Meachum, providing a very compelling character that deserves to be recognized. Alice Eve joins the cast as a character named Mary, and Eve definitely gives a great, memorable performance as a very interesting character the Marvel Cinematic Universe hasn’t seen before.
The basic plot of this season is that two Triads in Chinatown called the Golden Tigers and the Hatchets have an ongoing war between them. Danny and Colleen are compelled to stop them, but at the same time Danny’s old friend Davos (Sacha Dhawan) is opposing him as he wants Danny’s power as the Iron Fist. He is convinced it is rightfully his. I really didn’t like Davos last season, but that isn’t the actor’s fault. His character is boring and ultra-serious and unlikable. While he gets some better writing, he really didn’t improve much in terms of being compelling or likable. One of the biggest problems with the Netflix Marvel shows have definitely been the usually too-long 13 episode count. Many of the weak series within the Netflix Marvel lineup definitely suffered from this. “Iron Fist” was bad from the get-go, but “The Punisher” and “Luke Cage” season 1 had really solid starts that either slowed down way too much in the middle for their own good, or just plain fell apart. I was glad to see that Marvel was willing to recognize a reoccurring problem and fix it. The show definitely has a more consistent pace to it overall, and I was pleasantly surprised.
My biggest issue with the show is the inclusion of this gang of punk 18 to 20-year-olds that go around robbing people and eventually get put into the main story. I’m sure that the actors are good, but they were at their worst very cringeworthy to see. They most definitely pulled you out of the experience whenever they showed up, and they were straight out of some lame CW show mixed with the “Little Rascals,” sort of a roaming band of homeless looters. In addition, the plot had some great moments, but there were some stretches that were not bad at all but not particularly amazing. It really was more balanced than I give it credit for and it was better paced than other MCU shows.
Also, there are definitely scenes with tropes that Marvel Netflix shows actually invented, like hero pushes too hard, gets hurt, has to have some nurse person, either Rosario Dawson or a stand-in character have the same purpose and make them lay down for a while. Dawson isn’t in this one, this still happens frustratingly, and I’m convinced that the sole reason is to provide drama and pad to the story too. This has been going on since the first season of “Daredevil,” and the writers really have no sign of stopping with this lame trope that they invented and that they use way too much.
One thing I should especially praise that this season got right is the amount of fight scenes and their quality. Like I said before, I really hated the first fights, but this one really brings it. All of them are super fun kung-fu type style and the stunts really are incredible. I don’t know how much of a capacity that the actual actors of the show did their own stunts, but the show really convinced me that the actors who participated in the fight scenes definitely prepared for them, which was a sharp departure from the impressions I received from the first season’s. I enjoyed every single one. There wasn’t any annoying shaky cameras or quick cuts. These were all very fun to see, particularly when Danny actually uses his fist, which while I say there are many fights, Colleen might have more screentime than Danny does, and she most definitely has more fights. I definitely appreciate the effort to put in quality action and choreography.
I’m happy to see “Iron Fist” get a season it deserves. It definitely has problems that mar other Netflix Marvel shows, but it was nice to see a fun superhero show that the actors deserved the first go around instead of being given the awful material they started out with, especially Finn Jones as he got a lot of internet hate for the first season. The fights are fun, the story has some dumb moments but is fun as well and it has to be one of the more consistently paced shows that the Netflix/Marvel teamup has put out. While it isn’t “Jessica Jones” season 1 amazing, and it definitely has its flaws, I enjoyed it for what it was, and I’m very excited for the next season.