The first season of Iron Fist, to many fans, was by far the least watchable of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Netflix series. The issues abound, from Danny Rand’s character to the length of the season to the convoluted plot line. Davos’ turn to villainy was oddly reminiscent (and by “oddly reminiscent” I mean a total rip-off) of Mordo’s turn at the end of Doctor Strange. Joy Meachum’s character goes from sympathetic to Danny to wanting to kill him after he saves her. The list goes on and on.
Thankfully, Iron Fist season two fixes most of that. To be sure, it’s still not of the same caliber as the rest of the MCU’s Netflix series. Iron Fist Season 2 grades well below the second seasons of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage. But it was markedly improved over the first season. Here’s how:
Iron Fist Season 2 Improvements
1. Danny Rand’s character
Danny Rand from season one and The Defenders is, almost without question, the most insufferable character in the entire MCU. He is headstrong and cocksure, with such an overwhelming sense of doing what he thinks is right at all costs that it flies by plain old arrogance. As a superhero protagonist, he is nearly unwatchable. Whether it be in his personal life, his business life, or his superhero life, he is just an insufferable jerk.
That changed, drastically, in season two. We saw it referenced in Luke Cage season two, where he says he is working on his personality. By the time we meet him in Iron Fist season two, Danny is an entirely different person. He listens to others, is thoughtful, and no longer blindly does whatever he thinks is necessary.
Sure, we see some semblances of his old self. In running his business with Ward Meachum, he still unilaterally decides that his ethics override anyone else’s, and certainly business decisions. He still goes after Davos by himself, with the encouragement of Colleen. But all in all, his character is a relatable one, not an overbearing one.
The fact that this drastic character change came out of nowhere might confuse some, especially if you watch Iron Fist seasons one and two straight through. I think fans will forgive that, though, as his season two character is just better to watch, in every way.
2. Misty Knight
The secondary characters in season one didn’t add much. The villains were solid, and Davos does the super-stoic act very well (which gets really boring after a few hours), and Colleen is a complex sidekick. But after Colleen, there was not much in the way of compelling good guys. Claire Temple filled the role, but her character made little sense. (As a total digression, it bothered me so much that they had Claire fight in season one. She had a few hours, maximum, of training with Colleen, and all of a sudden, she’s defeating top-level Hand ninjas in combat? It made zero sense.)
In season two, Misty Knight fills the role that Claire Temple did in season one. That role far better suits Misty than Claire. Misty already has a relationship with Colleen, and being a trained cop (with a “Maserati” arm) makes her a far more believable secondary sidekick. Misty’s fights are also much more believable than Claire’s were, and Misty’s no-nonsense attitude is always one that is enjoyable in the MCU. She’s a cop who means business.
3. Typhoid Mary
First of all, Alice Eve‘s acting is out of this world. What happened to her career is a topic for an entirely separate discussion, but suffice it to say that I was surprised to see her in the Netflix MCU. That aside, her role was incredible. She played the part absolutely perfectly, in all its facets.
Mary and Walker were both exactly who they were meant to be, and her character’s discovery about herself is chilling. Walker’s progression from mercenary to anti-hero to outright villain was an enjoyable roller coaster, and Mary’s interludes only drove the plot further. I assume we’ll get much more of her, especially in upcoming Daredevil seasons, but she was an infinitely better second villain than any of the villains were in season one.
4. The Length
Cutting the season from 13 episodes down to ten was brilliant. It’s only eight-and-a-half hours of watching instead of close to 12, which makes a huge difference to both bingers and consistent viewers alike. The show felt much less drawn out, yet each character was still given a full and proper treatment. Whether the move to ten episodes (and shorter ones, on average) was because of how bad season one was or whether this indicates a future trend for the Netflix MCU is yet to be seen. The move absolutely made a huge difference, though.
Last Word on Iron Fist Season Two
There is much more to be said about Iron Fist season two. The Meachums’ characters both developed well. Davos made for a superb villain. His transition from ultimate stoicism to “by any means necessary” was a brilliant one to watch. Joy Meachum’s move from Davos’s enabler to regretting her actions leads her back to the character we saw in season one. Even the subplots with the Triads, along with BB and his gang, were both enjoyable and interwoven with the overall plot beautifully. Colleen moved from a sidekick to a major character in her own right, and I honestly want to see more of her as Iron Fist than Danny in the future.
Iron Fist season two is still not quite of the powerful caliber that Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, or Daredevil brought. It was not emphatic or compelling in the way the rest of the Netflix MCU has been. But it was very enjoyable and certainly re-watchable, something that cannot be said about either previous series in which Danny Rand took a major role. (I’m not counting Luke Cage season two; Danny was a glorified cameo in that.) All in all, that makes this season a success. Danny Rand transitioning from an insufferable character to a watchable one means that the Netflix MCU can still utilize him in a major role going forward.
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