The Marvel Cinematic Universe is bigger than ever, especially with the debut on Netflix of its newest band of street-level superheroes, “The Defenders”, consisting of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist.
Each Defender can also be seen on Netflix in their own respective solo series, all of which were released prior to “The Defenders” and all of which have been renewed for a second (and, in the case of Daredevil, a third) season. However, in Iron Fist’s case, his first season ended up as a bit of a mixed bag, with aspects both terrific and underwhelming, meaning that his second season has a tad more work cut out for it than the others.
Fortunately, his portrayal in “The Defenders” significantly improves on Danny Rand’s portrayal within the MCU. Furthermore, Marvel Television’s Jeff Loeb speaks highly of M. Raven Metzner, who will serve as the series’ showrunner for its second season: “Raven’s love of all things Iron Fist and his extensive knowledge of martial arts films made him the perfect choice to continue telling the adventures of Danny Rand and Colleen Wing. Season One and ‘The Defenders’ are only the beginning of this fantastic action-packed tale.”
Loeb’s statement should give fans a major injection of confidence in where season two is headed, as it reveals that not only is Metzner a fan of the character, but just as importantly, that he recognizes the influence martial arts films have had on Iron Fist since his creation in the early 70’s. Between that and “The Defenders”, it looks like a safe bet that Danny Rand is headed for bigger and better things in the second season of “Iron Fist”, and we at KFK would like to share our thoughts on the direction that the series should go in its second season; the stronger elements of season one to retain and the weak points it should avoid. So, get ready to summon your chi force readers, here is what we think would be great to see in “Iron Fist” Season Two!
This is a bigger one than you might initially think. It’s impossible to overstate how much of an influence the 1970’s kung fu craze that followed Bruce Lee’s rise to global fame had on the creation of Iron Fist. Danny Rand was very much intended as Marvel Comics’ homage to martial arts films and his stories have always been intentionally crafted as a blend of Asian mythology and the tropes and hallmarks of chop socky cinema.
One of the shortcomings of season one was that, tonally speaking, it often felt less like a kung fu-driven superhero series than a corporate espionage thriller, which isn’t what audiences want to see out of this particular character. This particular flaw also stands out precisely because of how much season one’s sixth episode, “Immortal Emerges from Cave”, far and away the best episode of the season, absolutely nails the proper tone and feel of Iron Fist’s comic book origins, placing Danny in an ancient kung fu tournament to the death, and shows just how much the episode’s director, RZA of the Wu-Tang Clan, ‘gets’ the character and what fans want to see.
Something we also saw with the other Marvel-Netflix shows is how they wore the skin of other genres external of pure superhero fare – “Daredevil” was a ninja movie crossed with a legal thriller, “Jessica Jones” was a neo-noir detective story, and “Luke Cage” was a blaxploitation show. For “Iron Fist” to really be done justice in his second season, the series should adopt the tone of a superhero version of “Enter the Dragon” or “Fist of Fury” – the very feel and vibe that his comics adopted from day one that have made him a cornerstone of the Marvel Universe.
One of the more surprising aspects of the first season of “Iron Fist” was how much the action ended up oscillating between delivering either good or lacklustre fight sequences.
That can probably be attributed to a significant degree to the amount of time Finn Jones and the series’ stunt people had to train and rehearse the action sequences for the show but Mr. Jones is already back in the dojo training well in advance of the beginning of season two so between that and how solid the action in “The Defenders” was, fans can likely expect the kung fu of season two to be more consistently high caliber.
As for how season two’s martial arts’ sequences should be crafted, it’s a bit of an oversimplification to say they should just look to season one’s sixth episode and give us thirteen episodes of that in season two, but given how strong that episode was, both tonally and action-wise, it would certainly be a great starting point.
Beyond that, season two also offers a great opportunity to really begin to differentiate the martial arts of “Iron Fist” from what we’ve seen elsewhere in the MCU, especially “Daredevil”. The internet gave birth to the ultimate meme in the form of Chuck Norris Facts and the various absurd feats of superhuman strength and machismo he is capable of (my personal favorite – “Chuck Norris once urinated in a semi-truck’s gas tank as a practical joke; that truck is now known as Optimus Prime!”). With his years of training in K’un Lun and the chi of the Iron Fist always at his disposal, Danny Rand can actually do those sorts of things and with that in mind, this particular martial arts-laden series would actually benefit from adding some wire-fu in its second season.
The fight sequences of AMC’s “Into the Badlands” and Yuen Woo-ping’s “True Legend” would each serve as an ideal template, in this regard – as anyone familiar with either one can tell you, they’re each filled with characters zig-zagging through the air like nobody’s business, but both also make dead certain that the viewer feels it when hits land and that they elicit that “Oooohh!” reaction we all love to let out whenever someone really gets their clock cleaned on-screen. In its quest to ramp-up the action for Danny Rand’s next solo adventure, the second season of “Iron Fist” could certainly do worse.
This plays into the entry about the tone, and in fact, would actually go a long way towards facilitating it. Like Iron Fist, Shang Chi was created to cash in on the popularity of martial arts films during the early 70’s kung fu craze. In fact, Marvel devoted an entire title to its kung fu-themed stories at the time, “Deadly Hands of Kung Fu”, in which Iron Fist and Shang Chi were both staple characters, as were their allies, Misty Knight and Colleen Wing (indeed, the title was created specifically because Marvel was unable to secure the rights to adapt the TV series “Kung Fu” into a comic book title).
Shang Chi would also have his own book, “Master of Kung Fu”, and has been a close friend and ally of Iron Fist since his creation. He was already rumoured to appear in Iron Fist’s first season, so including him in a supporting role would be a terrific step, both for setting up the proper tonality of Danny’s second season, as well as expanding the roster of the MCU’s street-level heroes – to say nothing of setting him up for a spin-off series a la The Punisher in Daredevil’s second season. This is, of course, where we move into fan casting territory, and in my humble opinion, Tiger Chen or Philip Ng would make excellent contenders to bring to life the Deadly Hands of the Master of Kung Fu!
This is more of a formality, since it’s pretty clearly being set up by the end of season one. Even in the comics, Harold Meachum never amounted to much of a villain for Danny beyond his origin, and in hindsight, he wasn’t the ideal candidate to use as the central villain of season one.
Davos, on the other hand, proved to be one of the strongest characters of the first season, and his falling out with Danny was a far more engaging story to follow than Harold’s behind-the-scenes machinations in Rand Enterprises. Indeed, the twelfth and thirteenth episodes really should have swapped places – the former, which focuses on Davos turning his back on Danny, has both the more compelling story and some of the better fight sequences of season one. And since Harold is clearly no match for Danny, having them face off at the end of the season’s finale would’ve left the show to end on an anti-climactic note had it not been for the cliffhanger in K’un Lun in the final scene.
Going into season two, Davos is already well poised to take up the mantle of Danny’s arch-nemesis, Steel Serpent; simply continuing Davos’ journey down his dark path is all season two needs to have the perfect antagonist to challenge the might of the Immortal Iron Fist!
K’un Lun, Orson Randall and previous Iron Fists
I think I speak for most viewers when I say that the lack of direct attention K’un Lun receives in season one was rather surprising, to say the least.
Had the series not given such an overemphasis on the corporate espionage angle with the Meachum family control of Rand Enterprises, this might have been more understandable, but by the end of season one, it’s clear that the spotlight was shone far too brightly on the aspect of the “Iron Fist” mythos that fans are the least attached to.
For season two, a trip right into the heart of the mystical kung fu paradise that is K’un Lun is an absolute must, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be in the present tense, either. Who wouldn’t love to take a trip back in time to see Danny’s martial arts training under Lei Kung the Thunderer, his friendship with Davos, his defeat of Shou Lao The Undying, and his life in general in one of the Seven Cities of Heaven? On that note, season two also has the perfect opportunity to delve into the expansive Iron Fist mythos, specifically the fact that Danny is just one in a long line of Iron Fists.
We were treated to a quick glimpse of another Iron Fist in season one, and it’s a safe bet that he’s Danny’s predecessor, Orson Randall. Season two would do well to add him to its character roster and having a take on the mentor role fans know him for. For that matter, the other Immortal Weapons of the Seven Cities of Heaven would also be a welcome addition (one of them, Bride of Nine Spiders, has already appeared in season one). Season two could also further delve into the Iron Fist legend in another way – One of Danny’s past titles, “The Immortal Iron Fist”, periodically took readers back in time with one-shot issues chronicling the story of one of the earlier Iron Fists, everyone from Bei Bang-Wen during the Second Opium War to Wu Ao-Shi, the first female Iron Fist.
Season two could take a unique approach within the superhero genre by turning the series into something of an anthology, with Danny’s story serving as the primary arch of season two, and a few episodes sprinkled throughout the season being devoted to one of his many predecessors to the mantle of the Iron Fist. With such a vast history to explore, season two could position itself as one of the most unique entries in the superhero genre by diving right into the legacy of the Iron Fist alongside the next chapter of Danny Rand’s story.
A final note on one thing that should be left untouched, namely, the Iron Fist itself. There hasn’t been a single time that Danny’s summoned the Iron Fist, either in his own show or “The Defenders”, that hasn’t managed, figuratively and literally, to bring the thunder, as you can see in the clips linked above. On this specific element of “Iron Fist”, KFK’s message to Marvel and Netflix – just keep doing what you’re doing!
So, there you have it readers, some rich, dynamic angles of content that we think would add gravitas and make the second season of “Iron Fist” that much more memorable -do you agree? Let us know by joining in the conversation on Facebook or Twitter! _