TV

‘Iron Fist’ Season 2 Is Much Better Than Expected, But Then Again, That’s Not Too Hard Is It?

The punchy-boy is BACK.

Welcome to ‘Should You Bother Watching’, Junkee’s new column which helps to answer the streaming-age’s biggest question: is this show for me? Do I spend my precious time watching this? In this one, we tackle Netflix’s Iron Fist Season 2.


It’s widely acknowledged that Netflix had a big old swing and a miss with the first season of Iron Fist. Turns out the story of a privileged and kinda boring rich white dude who learns extremely good magic martial arts just didn’t quite cut it. In comparison to his super-peers, like the groundbreaking action scenes in Daredevil or the tense and gritty character building of Jessica Jones, Danny Rand is more like… Danny Bland. I’m very proud of myself.

The Sydney Morning Herald described the show as “a relatively drab patch in that endless Marvel tapestry”. The Ringer went a step further, saying: “Iron Fist is bad. It’s an action series about a martial arts expert that leans on set-piece fights of comically poor quality. I can’t stress this enough. The fighting in Iron Fist is awful.”

Yikes. At times the show was boring, the main character petulant and annoying, and the action lacklustre. The show was also beset with some pretty damning conversations around whitewashing, which gave it a lot of negative pre-publicity.

Then, Marvel compounded its bad gamble by making the excessively annoying Iron Fist integral to the whole The Defenders super-crossover series, helping to further ruin that whole shit-show.

Basically, there was a lot of bad blood towards Iron Fist, as well as suggestions as to how season 2 could be improved (and some of them were even helpful). The good news is that they definitely listened!

Iron Fist season 2 is better than the first season. It’s also weirder. No specific spoilers in this review for season 2.

Pros:

Daughters Of The Dragon

By far the best part of Iron Fist season 1 was the character of Colleen Wing, a martial-arts badass who discovers she’s actually part of the evil ninja group, The Hand.

She loves fighting and kicking and having a cool sword. In The Defenders, she’s paired up with a bunch of the other ‘B’ characters, such as Claire Temple (who has been in pretty much every show and who is wonderful) and the extremely badass cop from Luke Cage, Misty Knight. None of these people have special powers, so it was much cooler watching them beat up evil ninjas.

In the world of Marvel comics, Colleen Wing and Misty Knight have a popular spinoff series called Daughters of the Dragon, in which the duo team up to fight crime and do general cool stuff. Iron Fist Season 2 gives us a LOT of that. They spend most of their time together, while Danny occasionally slinks into the scene like that annoying college boyfriend who wasn’t really invited on the girl’s night out.

There are entire episodes where Danny is hurt or like, sleepy, and Colleen and Misty do all the fighting and talking and action. It is good.

Wing and Knight are great — they actually have a believable friendship, and a rapport that goes beyond “we’re cast in the same show for some reason” which is most of Iron Fist’s energy. It’s not entirely clear why Misty is hanging around so much, but once things get cracking, you basically forgive that whole thing. Their action scenes are some of the best in the show.

And if you hang around to the final episode, fans of Daughters of the Dragon get a big reward that will definitely change everything if the show gets renewed for a third season.

It’s Finally A Kung-Fu Show

Iron Fist season 1 was about 70% big corporate drama that was just… not at all interesting. Plus, the big bad guy was just an angry undead CEO dad. It was all very strange. This season however, it’s actually about big kung-fu fighting.

Danny Rand’s primary concerns are stopping a Triad war in New York, as well as stopping his old bestie from K’un-Lun — the compact and handsome Davos — from stealing his special glowing fist.

What does this mean? It means kicking and punching with gay abandon. And it is GOOD.

We also get a lot of flashbacks to Davos and Danny fighting in their old ninja monastery, which are some pretty wonderfully choreographed fights. Plus, there’s something very very satisfying about watching Misty Knight punch karate guys with her big metal arm. Fighting is good!

Cons:

I Don’t Really Know Why Anything Is Happening

There is a real problem with character motivation in this series.

Essentially, Danny Rand’s rich childhood friends aren’t really left with much to do now that the whole “big business is exciting content for a superhero show” message got thrown out the window. This means they are kind of lingering uncomfortably in the plotline, like a spilled bottle of Chanel No.5 in a taxi.

Joy Meachum is still around, and has been kinda weirdly forced into a quasi-villain role, and it’s just weird. Meanwhile, Ward has a whole sub-plot where he has sex a lot, and you have to wonder: why is he having this sex? We just don’t know.

Meanwhile, much of the plot revolves around the introduction of a new character named Walker, who is a kind of multiple-personality mercenary who HATES water. She’s kinda cool I guess, but you have to wonder: why?

Why anything in this show? Danny spends a bunch of his time working as a removalist, even though he’s a billionaire? Is this supposed to make him humble? Someone who ACTUALLY NEEDS THAT JOB could be doing it.

The show is more polished in this season, but don’t get lulled into forgetting that at its heart lies a messy bench who enjoys drama. You only need to wait for the final scene of the last episode to remember that Iron Fist is only pretending to make sense. Seriously.

Danny Rand Is Still Danny Rand

He’s still here! And he’s so petulant and dumb!

So, should you be watching Iron Fist Season 2?

Iron Fist season 2 was dumb and enjoyable, with some tasty treats thrown in for the fans. It’s not groundbreaking, but it’s no longer terrible. You’re not going to feel punished for watching it — you’ll probably enjoy the martial arts and how much Danny Rand is beaten up and saved by all the much better women in his life.

Iron Fist seasons 1 and 2 are currently on Netflix.

Patrick Lenton is an author and staff writer at Junkee. He tweets @patricklenton.