And that's a miracle.
Iron Fist Season 2 arrives today on Netflix. If you didn't give the first season a chance, you might want to check it out. If you did, and you're skeptical Iron Fist Season 2 could possibly redeem the series, read our review below. Then check out some info about the show's newest villain, Typhoid Mary, and make sure you're caught up on the latest in the Iron Fist and Defenders universe storyline.
The first season of Netflix and Marvel's Iron Fist was borderline unwatchable. Terrible writing, lame fight scenes, awful performances, an absurd magical story that didn't fit with sister shows like Daredevil and Luke Cage, and many more flaws made it the worst entry yet in Marvel's modern live-action universe. The presence of bland, unlikeable Danny Rand even weighed The Defenders down, too, despite the rest of the cast's strengths. Hopes are not high for Iron Fist Season 2, which arguably shouldn't even exist.
The surprising news, then, is that based on the first six episodes, it seems Iron Fist Season 2 is perfectly watchable. It falls short in some areas, while excelling in others. You'll like some characters, and despise some others. The story can meander at times, while occasionally grabbing your attention in a narrative kung fu grip. Many of Iron Fist Season 1's problems are still present in Season 2, not least of them Finn Jones' Danny Rand being pretty much insufferable. But in many other crucial ways, Iron Fist Season 2 is a massive improvement. It's now pretty much on par with the other Netflix/Marvel universe shows in terms of quality--for whatever that's worth.
In The Defenders, Danny Rand--AKA the Iron Fist--and several other heroes defeated The Hand, a secretive cabal of poorly developed villains who bogged down several seasons of multiple Netflix/Marvel shows. The Hand's end was the best thing to happen to these shows, and luckily, Iron Fist Season 2 isn't bringing them back--at least not in the first six episodes. The Hand's lingering influence is felt only in the shifting relationships among the characters, which is exactly how it should be.
Danny and Colleen (the very good Jessica Henwick) are living a relatively simple life, despite Rand's great wealth. She volunteers at a local community center and he works as a professional mover; they live in Colleen's former dojo, which they converted into a neat but down to earth living space following Colleen's discovery that she'd been unwittingly training recruits for The Hand. Ward Meachum (Tom Pelphrey) is in a 12 step recovery program, while his sister Joy (Jessica Stroup) is out for revenge against him and Danny for reasons you'll only vaguely understand, even if you powered through Iron Fist's first season. It doesn't especially matter; what's important is that she's teamed up with Davos (Sacha Dhawan), Danny's "brother" and rival while in training at the mystical K'un-Lun.
K'un-Lun plays a fairly big role in Season 2's early episodes, but the flashbacks there are nowhere near as tedious, repetitive, and pointless as the flashbacks from Season 1. They almost make K'un-Lun seem like an actual place, with small doses of intrigue as Davos's mother pressures him to defeat Danny and become the Iron Fist. It sure makes Davos's perspective--that Rand stole the mantle of the Iron Fist from its rightful recipient, then abandoned his duty and left K'un-Lun to the wolves--more understandable. You might even find yourself sympathizing with Davos more than you do with Danny, which is a thread that the rest of the season will hopefully continue to tug.
Iron Fist Season 2's leap in quality can most likely be attributed to a much needed change in showrunner, as Raven Metzner (Sleepy Hollow and Falling Skies, among other credits) replaced Scott Buck this season. Buck was also responsible for Marvel's disastrous Inhumans show, so it's probably safe to blame much of Iron Fist Season 1's failure on him as well. But Metzner isn't the only personnel upgrade behind the scenes; Iron Fist Season 2's massively improved action scenes have been designed by new fight choreographer Clayton Barber, whose previous credits include working with director Ryan Coogler on the phenomenal Creed and Black Panther. It's a no-brainer that the fight choreography is crucial to a martial arts show, so Barber's improvements are a welcome change.
Other happy additions come in the form of a couple of new--to this show, at least--characters. Simone Missick's Misty Knight, a Luke Cage series character who crops up in Iron Fist Season 2's first few episodes, appears like she'll have a significant presence throughout the season. Knight teams up with Colleen--arguably the other strongest character in the mix--while Danny is otherwise occupied, and his absence makes their dynamic even better. They aren't quite calling themselves the Daughters of the Dragon yet, but the seeds are there. And Alice Eve plays Mary Walker, a comics villain known as Typhoid Mary who makes her live action debut here. Mary's split personality--pure comic book camp--keeps the rest of the characters on their toes, though it remains to be seen just where her story is headed.
Blessedly, Iron Fist Season 2 is only ten episodes long (the 13-episode runs of all these shows up to this point were too long in every single case). In the first six chapters, a gang war is brewing in Danny Rand's corner of New York, while Joy plots to bring him low and Davos works to take back what he believes belongs to him. Even if you hate Iron Fist, it might be worth checking out Season 2 just to see Danny finally brought low--though no doubt he'll bounce back by the season's end. That is, of course, if you don't mind the generally slow burn of all of Marvel's Netflix universe shows. That lethargic pacing is one of the worst things you can say about Iron Fist Season 2--at least based on its first six episodes--and that alone should speak volumes as to how big an improvement it is.