In some ways, the theme of the second season of Netflix’s Iron Fist is redemption: Redemption for a crappy first season, redemption for lackluster special effects and, most of all, redemption for all the backstabbing between its characters in the prior 13 episodes.
Finn Jones’ Danny Rand does a lot more ass kicking than he did in the first season. His glowing fist spends a a lot more time lit up as he punches the lights out of ever more bad guys.
Cars get smashed, pavements get ripped up and tables show all the right dents when Danny uses his Iron Fist. There’s action right from the get-go in the opening episode as we get to see Rand doing his thing on a moving vehicle.
But as the first six episodes progress, it’s weird to see Rand being played as a serious character. The Immortal Iron Fist from the first season was more naive and innocent — sometimes even funny. We saw snippets of those traits when Jones guest starred in an episode of Luke Cage, but that personality seems to have been replaced with a sombre, boring robot of a hero. He’s just going through the motions of beating up Asian gangsters, and it shows.
The Meachum siblings return, with Jessica Stroup’s Joy playing the bad guy (a setup from the previous season) while Tom Pelphrey’s Ward is seeking treatment for his drug problems and making best buds with Rand again.
Both of them are trying to get Joy back on the straight and narrow, but Joy’s having none of that. Instead she’s hooking up with Davos (Sacha Dhawan) — and Marvel fans will know what he eventually metamorphosizes into. Dhawan plays the ‘good’ bad guy with ease, and he seems to be a lot better at kung fu than our titular hero, I’ll be honest.
The show’s not just about Rand, of course. You also get great character interaction with Jessica Henwick’s Colleen Wing, who’s also seeking redemption from her Hand days, while Simone Missick’s Misty Knight doesn’t get much to do apart from kicking ass with her robot arm. Much of her character development, we’ve already seen in Luke Cage, so her appearance here seems aimed at ticking checkboxes. Alice Eve’s Mary is a new character to the series, and without spoiling anything, her heterochromia eyes are perfect for the role and she gets in on plenty of action scenes as well.
The first six episodes set the season up for an exciting second half, with action sequences coming thick and fast. There are still plenty of jump cuts, but the punches and kicks feel a lot more real this time. But I’m still missing the stylistic kung fu from older Chinese kung fu flicks (pick any Bruce Lee movie) or even the awesome Matrix.
Iron Fist still relies on brawling and less finesse, a complaint I’ve made before. He does get to don the comic book mask after a long wait — but not in the way you’d expect.
There are some weird glaring scenes that make no sense. Rand’s able to peek through stained windows and watch scenes that look clear as day through the camera. And at one point the K’un-Lun monks, mighty martial art masters, become squeamish during a combat trial.
Oh, and no one ever seems to recognize Rand. That’s despite him going around beating up villains with a glowing fist and attracting plenty of media coverage about his return and billionaire status. The fact that he’s relying on a mask that covers the lower half of his face to stay anonymous is eye-roll worthy enough to break the immersion of the show.
That said, the first six episodes of Iron Fist season two are shaping up so far, sure, it’s not as amazing as Netflix’s Daredevil, but it’s a decided improvement over the first season. Here’s hoping the remaining episodes redeem it enough for an explosive finale.