Among last year’s many action-packed superhero film and television series’, 2017 saw Marvel’s mightiest martial artist Danny Rand make his live-action debut in the Netflix series, “Iron Fist”, followed by a team-up with Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage in the crossover mini-series, “The Defenders”. While the latter proved to be a superbly entertaining comic book crossover, the former was unfortunately a little more lacking, and the protector of the mystical city of K’un-Lun felt like he was done greater justice in the Netflix team-up show than his own series.
Now, with The Defenders having officially met to defend New York City, the time has come for the second season of each character’s solo series. The respective second seasons of “Jessica Jones” and “Luke Cage” debuted earlier this year on Netflix, with Danny dropping in for what would prove to be his most acclaimed appearance to date in the latter. Now, the second season of “Iron Fist” is next up to bat, set to drop on Netflix tomorrow (Friday) September 7th. We’ve been fortunate to get a chance to check out the season’s first six episodes…so you know what that means – take a deep breath and summon your chi, readers, here are KFK’s first impressions of Iron Fist: Season Two!
The series kicks off in the best way possible, with Danny Rand cleaning up the streets of New York against a posse of bad guys, having been inspired by the apparent (at least, to The Defenders) death of Daredevil to use his skills as the Iron Fist to protect the denizens of Manhattan. Despite being the heir to the Rand Corporation with billions of dollars to his name, Danny has further made the conscious choice to simplify his life, lending his assistance to a local removals firm and sharing an apartment with his girlfriend, Colleen Wing.
However, things once again become tense for Danny with the return of Davos, an old friend of Danny’s with whom he had a bitter falling out in season one. It turns out, Davos’ animosity towards Danny goes beyond their divergent perspectives on defeating the villainous ninja clan known as “The Hand”. In their days together in the otherworldly city of K’un-Lun, Danny and Davos had both been the final contenders to face the dragon, Shou-Lao the Undying, for the right to become the next Iron Fist.
Though Danny emerged victorious, the defeat would stay with Davos, and his feeling of being cheated would only intensify with Danny returning to New York, and thereby disgracing the mantle of the Iron Fist in Davos’ eyes. Although Danny and Colleen try to make peace with Davos and Joy Meachum, one of Danny’s former business partners with her own grudge against him, it soon becomes clear that Davos intends to take what he feels he was robbed of from his old friend.
The second season of “Iron Fist” is a clear improvement on its predecessor, and one of the areas where that’s best exemplified lies in Sacha Dhawan’s performance as Davos. While no antagonist within the Marvel Cinematic Universe has yet been able to dethrone The Kingpin (as played by Vincent D’Onofrio in “Daredevil”) as its greatest villain, a few recent evildoers like Killmonger and Thanos have come close. With “Iron Fist” season two, it may be time to add Davos, better known by his moniker of “Steel Serpent”, to that list of nefarious contenders as well! The greatest villains are the heroes of their own story, and Davos truly feels that not only was he cheated out of becoming the next Iron Fist, but that Danny’s actions in that role have so disgraced both the Iron Fist and K’un-Lun that stripping Danny of that power is the only way to undo that. So good is Dhawan’s portrayal of Davos that it only further highlights the mistake of making Harold Meachum the main villain of season one, with Davos appearing as Danny’s grudging ally late in the season.
Speaking of strong performances, Finn Jones’ portrayal of Danny Rand in season two actually shows a clear through-line of Danny’s character arc thus far. With Danny having spent most of his life by this point in K’un Lun, we see him return to New York in season one essentially as a child, unfamiliar with the norms and customs of life outside the mystical city he’s returning from, having to grow back into life in the world he left behind. With “The Defenders”, we meet Danny again as an adolescent, more familiar with how to navigate the world, but prone to bouts of anger and still having a lot of learning to do. We received a glimpse of Danny’s continued growth in his one-episode appearance in season two of “Luke Cage”, but with season two of “Iron Fist”, we finally see Danny as a man.
His experiences returning to New York from K’un Lun and fighting alongside The Defenders have re-acclimated him to the world he left behind, and he’s finally found his groove in navigating a world outside of a city of monks, dragons, and supernatural elements. He stills retains the wisdom that was passed on to him as a monk in K’un Lun, but he’s learned how best to apply that knowledge in the microcosm of New York City. He may have once introduced himself as the sworn protector of K’un Lun to anyone who would listen, but through his experiences since returning to New York, he’s learned to channel his training and gifts in the right direction. What we ultimately see with season two of “Iron Fist” is Danny’s arc essentially being his return to New York as a child and his symbolic growth into manhood throughout his adventures on Netflix.
That brings us at last to the action of season two. Orchestrated by stunt veteran Clayton Barber, who served as Stephen Dorff’s stunt double in “Blade” and as fight choreographer for Ryan Coogler’s “Creed” and “Black Panther”, the action is a significant improvement on season one, and the series wastes no time in getting that across with its opening set piece. Finn Jones and the series’ stunt people clearly had much more time to train and rehearse their action sequences for season two, and it shows. Of course, two seasons into “Iron Fist”, the kick-off for the season just wouldn’t be complete without seeing the Iron Fist itself put to use, and the first set piece of the first episode gives us two for the price of one – one being Danny using the Iron Fist to take out an armoured truck.
Of course, the women of “Iron Fist” have been one of the show’s strongest assets from the start, and they continue to shine in season two. Jessica Henwick stole the show in season one as Colleen Wing, and following the loss of her right arm in “The Defenders”, we also see NYPD detective Misty Knight, played by Simone Missick, fully realized with her bionic arm, first seen in season two of “Luke Cage”. Comic book fans know these characters well as the “Daughters of the Dragon”, and the initial tease of that team-up in season one and in “The Defenders” really begins to come together with the two forming that duo while battling a gang of tattoo artists in Davos’ employ. Alice Eve also makes quite an impression in the role of “Typhoid Mary” Walker, an assassin afflicted with Dissociative Identity Disorder, who gives Danny quite the run for his money in a subway smackdown, further expanding the list of strong female characters that the show offers.
However, the best set piece of season two, and perhaps of the series thus far, comes in a flashback to Danny’s time in K’un Lun when he and Davos face off for the chance to become the next Iron Fist. With the fight only permitted to conclude with the death or surrender of one combatant, Danny and Davos put one another through an exceptionally brutal level of punishment, both of them covered with each other’s blood by the end. The ritualized nature of the duel and Clayton Barber’s fight choreography gives the sequence a power and an impact that effectively sets it up as the linchpin of season two, along with giving you a glimpse at where the seed for Davos’ grudge against Danny was first planted. It’s also fun to see Danny rely upon his ingenuity and genuine kung fu skills to win without having the Iron Fist by his side, and fans will no doubt delight at seeing both fighters sporting the classic Iron Fist mask from the comics.
Like season one’s best episode, “Immortal Emerges from Cave”, which saw Danny forced to compete in an underground kung fu tournament to the death, the sequence is further elevated by being rooted in such martial arts cornerstones as honour, tradition, and ritual. It packs a further emotional punch in seeing both Danny’s triumph and Davos’ heartbreak in the outcome of their duel, on top of just being the most out and out brutal fight sequence on the series, to date!
With season two of “Iron Fist”, it looks like our titular hero may have truly found his groove in his solo series. While the pacing in the fifth and sixth episodes is a little on the slow side (though it’s clear there are some in-story reasons for that), that’s easily offset by the continued presence of the show’s strong female characters, Sacha Dhawan’s performance as Davos, Finn Jones’ performance as Danny (forming a symbolic arc of evolution from childhood to manhood) and plenty more finely-tuned action sequences. Six episodes into the second season of his solo series and it looks like “Iron Fist” has finally got its chi together – and is on target to deliver a real knockout punch!
Looking forward to the evolved Season Two of Iron Fist? What did you like or dislike from Season One and what kind of fight-action do you expect and want to see in Season Two? Let us know in the comments below; Like, share and join in the conversation with us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter & Instagram. (Enter the mystical action-lover’s paradise of K’ung FUn reviews, exclusives and more!)