Iron Fist Strikes Back in Season 2
Main Cast: Finn Jones, Jessica Henwick, Sacha Dhawan
Creator: Scott Buck
Walker: “I’m not sitting here with my hand on a Bible. I’ve spent the last sixty days tracking Danny Rand. I know where he sleeps, how he eats, how he thinks, and how he fights. And I also know that there are not many people in this world who can handle that thing his fist does.” – “Target: Iron Fist” (Season 2, Episode 4)
Iron Fist was the MCU’s first true failure. Iron Fist morphed from a wise warrior to an arrogant braggart. The show dwelled on his great K’un-Lun training but refused to show any of it. Half of this martial arts superhero show was wasted on a trite corporate soap opera among other problems.
Iron Fist’s first season was so aggravating that my review called it flawed and mediocre. Did season 2 get the show back on its feet or was its cancellation a mercy kill? Let’s find out. Round 2, write!
Fixing The Problem
Ward: “A moving company? When will this “value of a dollar” thing be over? You have a corner office at Rand with your name on it.”
Danny: “It’s been good for me to step away from Rand, learn to be self-sufficient. It’s given me a new perspective.”
Ward: “Because lifting other people’s furniture is a crucial learning experience.”
Danny: “I enjoy it. It’s a hard day’s work.” – “The Fury of Iron Fist” (Season 2, Episode 1)
Season two wastes no time correcting season one’s problems. The events of Defenders cut straight through Iron Fist’s arrogance, leaving him mellow and humble. He thinks more strategically, often trying to defuse fights before they happen. Actor Finn Jones finally learned how to fight, so the battles aren’t jump cut littered messes.
Danny ain’t the only one to improve. Love interest Colleen Wing (Jessica Henwick) spends a large chunk of the season dealing with guilt about her sword being used to maim her ally Misty Knight in Defenders. She gets over it while working with Misty to stop a gang war.
Iron Fist may have abandoned the corporate drama plot but didn’t abandon Rand boss Ward Meachum (Tom Pelphrey). He acts as the everyman in a show filled with magical kung-fu and warring triads. Ward also deals with an opioid addiction introduced in season 1.
The Steel Serpent Strikes
Davos: “You see, Danny, you feel that you can just walk through this world as if it belongs to you. You value nothing, because your privilege has afforded you everything. You’ve never had a heritage of your own. A culture you must honor and protect.” – “The Dragon Dies at Dawn” (Season 2, Episode 6)
Our hero fights The Hand, an army of magic ninjas, in season one. While there were important members, the majority were disposable cannon fodder with no connection to the story. This is fixed by season two’s villain, Davos (Sacha Dhawan).
Davos was Danny’s best friend and rival in K’un-Lun. The two dueled to decide who would attempt the ritual to gain the Iron Fist. Despite Davos’ skill and brutality, he lost when his father unfairly called the duel in Danny’s favor. Davos was ashamed, but forgave his friend. Then Danny left K’un-Lun, which was destroyed by The Hand in his absence.
Davos followed Danny to New York, seeking answers. He eventually sees New York as a corrupt hellhole and becomes a Knight Templar, intent on removing the corruption at its source. Things only get worse when Davos manages to steal the Iron Fist powers for himself.
Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary
Joy: “Can you manage your condition?”
Walker: “I usually do.”
Joy: “Can you manage it today?”
Walker: “Yes. Probably. I can take the necessary precautions.”
Joy: “I need you to look me in the eye and tell me that you can pull this off. If you can do that, then I will leave. And I will take it on faith.”
Walker: [serious expression] “I can do this.” – “Target: Iron Fist” (Season 2, Episode 4)
Early in season two Danny meets a young artist named Mary Walker (Alice Eve). They become friends, but Danny notices odd things about her. One moment Mary is carefree and innocent, the next she becomes brusque and standoffish. What Danny doesn’t know is that she has Dissociative Identity disorder. Mary gives Danny a stack of surveillance photos of himself and a warning that someone is after him.
One of the kindly Mary’s other personalities is Walker, a tough-as-nail mercenary who took the photos after being hired by Joy and Davos as part of his schemes to subdue Iron Fist.
Much like Jessica Jones shining a spotlight on PTSD and sexual assault, Mary demonstrates the trials of DID sufferers. With polar opposite personalities, combat training, and hints of other alter egos, Mary could easily carry a spin-off.
Oh Joy, She’s Back
Joy: “All I want is what I’ve worked my entire life for. And a chance to make something of my own.”
Ward: “And to punish me.”
Joy: “It’s not about you.”
Ward: [exasperated]“Didn’t we put all this nonsense behind us?”
Joy: [pissed] “All the years that you lied to me about our father? That doesn’t qualify as nonsense, Ward.” – “The Fury of Iron Fist” (Season 2, Episode 1)
Iron Fist’s weak link is Joy Meachum (Jessica Stroup), Ward’s sister. She spent the first season as a damsel in distress, potential love interest, and overall plot device. After learning that Danny and Ward had kept her in the dark about her father being an undead psychopath, Joy swore revenge on both of them. And that’s before she partnered with Davos.
Despite being an important part of season 2, the writers never quite effectively use Joy. Sometimes she works as a liaison for Davos, other times she complains about Ward and Danny. She asks Walker about her DID so she has an excuse to explain it. Iron Fist tries to portray her as a manipulator, but she mostly is there to add drama and let others explain things.
Iron Fist’s second season is miles ahead of season one’s quality. Like Daniel-san after Mr. Miyagi’s training, Iron Fist has shed the unnecessary plot distractions and disposable villains to become much better. Unfortunately, the improvement came too late, and Netflix pulled the plug.
While Iron Fist’s fight is done, its characters may endure. Colleen Wing’s team-up with Misty Knight may have been testing the waters for an adaptation of their series, Daughters of the Dragon. Alternately, Iron Fist could crossover with fellow canceled show Luke Cage to create a Heroes for Hire series.
Whatever happens, Iron Fist and his allies have only begun to fight. He’ll be back.
Jared Bounacos has written for Movie Rewind since 2017.