This article comes from Den of Geek UK.
This Iron Fist review contains spoilers. We have a completely spoiler free version you can read here if you prefer.
Iron Fist Season 2, Episode 1
Against all expectations, Danny Rand (aka the Infuriating Iron Fist) is back on Netflix. Season one was dogged by complaints about cultural insensitivity, poor stuntwork and dull writing (but enough about my reviews) – can season one recognize the potential that this admittedly third-tier Marvel character has? As someone planning to write around 600 words on every episode, believe me when I say no-one is more hopeful than I am.
The first episode of season two doesn’t go for a drastic retool of the character, but it does try and file down some of the more abrasive edges. Instead of being a trust fund brat treating the boardroom like his personal creche, Danny has moved in with Colleen Wing and taken an honest job shifting furniture, eschewing the luxury his wealth affords. In his free time, he fights a rising tide of gang activity as the Triad families attempt to fill the power vacuum left by The Hand. And he doesn’t have a tantrum or explain his origin even once.
It feels like a deliberate move to make Danny Rand more relatable, and to an extent it works. Despite the bashing Finn Jones has had in this role, I think most people do want to like the lead character. He’s still not quite recognizable as the Iron Fist of the comics, but this slightly more jaded and remarkably humble Danny, who just wants to hang out with his girlfriend and protect his city, is a lot harder to hate than the serene nitwit who used to walk around barefoot saying “namaste” to muggers and blindly trusting anything anyone said.
The fight choreography has also taken a step up, which is perhaps the one thing this series badly needed to take care of. It’s now actually believable that Danny could beat the hell out of multiple guys at once, and at least one close-up martial arts sequence with Davos is impressively-executed.
Ah yeah, Davos is back, proving once again that lots of mystical dimensions have a north. In the previous season, Davos’ fanaticism was largely justified by the fact that Danny Rand did abandon his post and shirk his duty, so I’m glad to see Davos present Danny with an opposing ideology that isn’t just flat-out evil. Danny fights his corner philosophically-speaking – he thinks he’s gone where he’s needed – but Davos can only see the decadence and corruption around him and feels as though his goals are noble. It’s not exactly subtle, but between their warring outlooks and family ties, it makes sense to bump Davos up to main antagonist (if that is indeed what they’re doing).
The Meachums also return, considerably less unhinged than before. Ward and Joy both act like normal people, with their motivations and relationships to each other (and Danny) feel stable and comprehensible. You have to ignore a lot of weird stuff that everyone did last season to believe that they can all get in the same room amicably, but let’s face it – wouldn’t we all rather ignore last season?
As for subplots, Colleen – now working in a community center – finds herself the recipient of an artefact that could belong to her family, and Danny is apparently having some aggression issues. The episode hints that he might enjoy punching people a little too much, but the final scene in which he descends into a dark basement to repeatedly bash a door with the Iron Fist is heavy-handed and leaves you with a sense of dread about whether the subtlety we’ve seen so far is going to last. It’s a shame the episode had to end on the worst scene, really, but I’m optimistic for now.
Oh, and also in the mix is Alice Eve, making her debut as a character called Mary. I’m going to pretend we don’t know who she is for now because I’m expecting this to become a bigger deal later in the season. But if she’s who I’m expecting her to be, she’s one of my favorite Marvel characters, so keep an eye out for her…
A couple of other references: The Golden Tigers are a Triad gang who first appeared in Iron Fist #8 (1976), where they have a leader called, er, Chaka Kahn (please fill in your own Ain’t Nobody… joke here). And the restaurant Danny and Colleen visit – the Silver Lotus – made its sole brief appearance in Uncanny X-Men: First Class #4 (2009), of all places. I’d say it was a coincidence if it wasn’t specifically a place that Colleen Wing and Misty Knight went (with Jean Grey and Storm). Deep cut, guys, impressive.
So all in all, a good start. Let’s see where this goes…