Last Friday, Marvel/Netflix dropped an anticipated bombshell, that was WAY underrated and better than it should have been. After a flop at a first season, a somewhat successful outing in The Defenders, and a “just for fan service” cameo in Luke Cage season 2, Danny Rand makes a redemption comeback in Iron First season 2, and if you weren’t hooked on this show before (I’m guilty as charged) you will be now! Iron Fist season 2 has the complexity and tough subject matter of Cloak and Dagger, while having fun like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and even some Luke Cage worthy campy dialogue.
Returning for their previous roles from last season we have Finn Jones as Danny Rand/Iron Fist, Jessica Henwick as Colleen, Tom Pelphrey as Ward, Jessica Stroup as Joy, Sacha Dhawan as Davos, Alice Eve as Mary Walker/Typhoid Mary (although that name is not explicitly called out, that is her alias in the comics), and Simone Missick in a cameo role as Misty Knight from Luke Cage and The Defenders. Misty Knight’s cameo was one of the upbeats of the season, as it payed-off to what the Netflix/Marvel Universe has set up. If you have read the Luke Cage Season 2 Review that is also here on the site, you would know that I really want a Luke Cage and Iron Fist Heroes for Hire style team-up, and I do not appreciate teases. Nevertheless, it wasn’t purely fan service as it was functionality because Misty is NYPD, so with gang crimes going around in New York, you would expect that she would be involved.
The plot of Iron Fist seemed a bit too familiar. A triad of gangs are at war with each other, and the super-powered being and his girlfriend are caught in the middle of it, as they try to solve connections on their own without the interruptions of Misty Knight and the rest of the NYPD. Now back to this review on Luke Cage season 2… wait a minute. I will give credit where it’s due, and although the scenario in the writer’s room was like:
“Hey, can I copy your homework?”
“Sure! Just change it up a bit so it doesn’t look the exact same.”
Iron Fist did it better! It just has a better flow and logic to it. The Hand is destroyed, so now every gang in Chinatown is fighting each other to be ‘top dog’ and the next big name. Throw in the subplots of Davos wanting revenge on Danny for being the mantle holder of the Iron Fist, Colleen being haunted by her past and the twisted villain that is worthy of recognition.
Alice Eve (MIB 3, Star Trek Into Darkness) plays one of the best, boldest villains in the entire MCU: Mary Walker (Typhoid Mary in the comics). This character is seriously messed up. She started off as a really nice, pretty “girl next door” type who is crushing hard on Danny at first, then it is revealed she is working for Davos and Joy (the season’s prominent big bads)as a PI spying on Danny and Colleen, then it is later revealed that she is suffering from dissociative identity disorder aka split personalities! The first one we saw and got to know is Mary, a quirky, artsy new girl who is full of hope and spirit. The other one is Walker, a badass, crazy ex girlfriend type that is really skilled at combat and can only be calmed down by listening to water fall (tap running, shower, rain, etc.) Her backstory is tragic. Basically she was a soldier fighting in Sokovia (prior to Age of Ultron) and her team got ambushed and killed while she was raped and tortured. This initiated her disorder as Walker came out and slaughtered all of the soldiers, and when a rescue team came for her, she was back to Mary and had no idea what happened. This character is amazing. This is someone who has PTSD from war, a rape victim and a mental illness, which makes her character so complex and intriguing as you know for sure her true potential and anger hasn’t been expressed yet from the tragic life she has endured thus far. I am excited to see more of her in Season 3 onward, and I hope she even goes on to touch toes with Cloak and Dagger (as Dagger can relate with her) or better yet, Jessica Jones! That would be a mind-boggling joy to watch!
This season we get to see character developments of the season 1 main cast, and it is pretty interesting to watch. First we get a sense of Danny Rand’s hobby, which is to catch up on pop culture that he has missed since being in Kun Lun. This pays homage to Captain America: The Winter Soldier when Steve Rogers was the one that had to catch up on 75 years of pop culture. A funny throwaway line would be, “I know who Spongebob is. He’s a sponge named Bob.” We also get a functional, alcoholic Joy who is trying to suppress the pain of being betrayed by Danny and Ward (her brother) and the truth of their father. It’s funny at the beginning at the season when she is always seen with a glass of wine in her hand, then eventually towards the end of the season we see her struggle with alcohol. Lastly, but most importantly, we get to see the development of Colleen and how she is doing after the events of The Defenders. At first she hangs up her sword “for good,” and vows to step away from the fight. Then she fights.. but with hand-on-hand combat, not her sword. Then eventually she uses her sword and her… glowing fist? Yes, you read that right, and I rematched the episode to make sure I wasn’t on a trip, Colleen has Iron Fist powers! Season 3 has A LOT of explaining to do.
Speaking of Iron Fist powers, one of the cons of the show, that is kind of a pro in a way, is that Danny Rand was stripped away from his Iron Fist powers by a jealous and desperate Davos. That is a really cool concept when you think of it, paying homage to Raimi’s Spider-Man 2. However, he was powerless for 60% of the season. With a ten episode season, that is six episodes of Iron Fist without actual Iron Fist. I get it, it’s all about the journey and finding one’s “true self.” As RDJ once said, “If you’re nothing without the suit, then you shouldn’t have it.” But come one! Six episodes? That is literally more than half of the season! It did however have a huge payoff. For one, the viewer gets interested on the villains of the season as they appear to have the upper hand. And each villain is complex and on their own personal vendetta and agenda for power. Davos wants the Iron Fist mantle and an apology of sorts from Danny, Joy wants an apology from Ward and Danny for lying to her, and Mary is straight-up troubled and crazy.They each have emotional barriers they need to get through, as opposed to money and power, which is what most gang wars turn out to be about *cough* Luke Cage *cough* And at the end we get the king pay-off of all payoffs! No, I’m not talking about the teaser of Daredevil season 3, although that was pretty cool, I’m talking about Orson Randall easter eggs! We get a namedrop of Orson Randall, an Iron Fist from the comics, as well as Danny getting some cool Orson-inspired powers at the very last minute. He has TWO glowing fists and guns that shoot yellow chi energy. I can’t even explain how epic it was, you just have to watch it and be in awe.
Another con would be the lack of Stan Lee cameo. Maybe it was really subtle and hasn’t been discovered yet. But, come on. You HAVE to have Stan Lee make a cameo in your show. It’s the law! But I will give grievance to that, as I thought it was pretty cool that each episode’s title was named after an issue of the comics that Danny Rand has appeared it. In my opinion that was really cool, and the best easter egg in the entire series thus far!
The final verdict: Marvel’s/Netflix’s Iron Fist season 2 was way better than season 1, by a landslide. We got some pretty cool easter eggs/MCU tie-ins as well as awesome character development and even better villains that are ripped straight from the comic books. The only downsides were the lack of actual Iron Fist and the plot was borrowed. Although done better, 0 marks for creativity. This did however shine a deserving light on the complex villains of the show. Iron Fist season 2 leaves the viewer yearning for more and exciting them for the next by further developing their characters as opposed to creating cliffhangers, which is a major improvement from season 1. This is a pretty good show, and you should totally give Iron Fist the second chance it deserves!