THE RISE AND FALL OF THE IMMORTAL IRON FIST
I recently finished season 2 of Iron Fist and I am happy to report it is a vast improvement on the first, but still not perfect. The more I watched Season 2 the more I felt Season 1 was dealt a bad hand (excuse the pun, but its appropriate). Season 1 felt like nothing more than setting up The Hand for The Defenders with Danny’s origin attached for good measure. In no particular order I want to examine the pros and cons so expect plenty of spoilers.
Season 2 was immediately helped by only being ten episodes. I think all the Marvel Netflix shows could learn from this. Daredevil season 1 was the only one to convincingly pull of the full thirteen episodes. Being only ten episodes means there was less filler and the story was much tighter. A clear three act story developed over the ten episodes. It is still a major issue the lead protagonist isn’t very engaging. I personally like Finn Jones and think the internet hate for him has as always gone overboard. I would even go as far to argue it is due to bad writing rather than his skill as an actor. Look at The Defenders where Danny was a far more rounded character and way less annoying than anything we had seen in his first solo season. Also he refers to himself as The Immortal Iron Fist a lot less, which is a positive right? Better yet Luke Cage season 2 episode 10. This episode felt very much like an early Heroes For Hire comic brought to life. It keyed into the relationship between Danny and Luke really well. Which in terms of the Netflix universe is still in its infancy. Jones played Danny as the perfect fall guy to Mike Colter’s Luke Cage straight man. Add to that the fight scene in this episode was a step up from any in Iron Fist season 1 and it was a joyed to watch both compared to the first season and as a fan of Heroes For Hire comics. The supporting cast of Iron Fist is both its strongest part and its weakest.
Whenever season 1 hit rock bottom was when either of the Meachum’s were on screen. The same goes for season 2. Joy has a muddled story arc this time round. I leapt for try when Davos seemingly pushed her to her death… But she fucking survived! The presence of the Meachum offspring makes the show feel like a trashy soap opera. The story of Ward going to AA is not integral to the story of Iron Fist. That said I do feel Ward brings more to the story than Joy. He just needs to be used less and he will become a more effective character. He kind of acts like another straight man for Danny to bump heads with and I thought the way the story left Ward and Danny at the end had potential. More on that later. As with season 1 anything great in Iron Fist comes from Jessica Henwick as Colleen Wing. Essentially she is the heart and soul of the show. Its no wonder the writers decided to leave the power of the Iron Fist in her possession come season end. Her fighting style is so much more visually appealing and executed better. Her chemistry with Simone Missick’s Misty Knight is amazing. The tease of Daughters of The Dragon is too much! People online have raved about Davos on the show, even ranking him on the list of good MCU villains.
I wouldn’t got that far personally. Yes Sacha Dhawan is engaging to watch but thats about all. He suffers from being a comic book villain brought to life and needed to serve more purpose. What I mean by that is that in the comics Davos being jealous that Danny got the power of the Iron Fist is all the motivation he needs. A villain in a comic book is not in every issue compared to appearances in a TV serial. Every time a villain appears in a comic he pretty much has the same motivations, just his scheme of getting revenge gets grander and grander each time. This is particularly true in a comic like Iron Fist which for most of his existence never had an extensive run so villains growing as characters wasn’t really a requirement. An aspect of the Davos story I did enjoy was taking the street kids under his wing. One drawback of a shorter series was new character Mary Walker didn’t much fleshing out. When you think back to Daredevil season 2 having more episodes allowed for the story to establish Frank Castle as well as diving deep into the Daredevil/Elektra story. Its a shame we didn’t get more of her because Alice Eve done good things with what she was given. Both personalities were distinct, the Sokovia background and the twist of a third personality left plenty of room to expand her character. I could definitely see her being a good fit for the Punisher series further down the line.
This time around it actually felt like the writers had read some Iron Fist comics. There are lots of elements small and large at play from all eras of Iron Fist comics. They used the Golden Tigers who only ever made two comic book appearances! That’s good use of the source material in my book. All the episodes took their name from Iron Fist comic story arcs. For anyone who came to Iron Fist because of The Brubaker/Fraction and Aja run on Immortal Iron Fist there will plenty of pay off’s for you. Wu Ao-Shi the Pirate Queen of Pinghai Bay plays a hugely important role come the seasons ends. I felt the season as a whole had a Big Trouble In Little Chinatown vibe which is always going to win nostalgia points right across the board. One thing I really like about the season and it may sound strange so it will take some explaining. I liked that in the whole season it was clearly winter time in the story. None of the other Marvel Netflix shows have had this detail and I think it makes a difference. Think about The Wire, the first season was clearly summer and then the second season as well as shifting locales it shifted to winter. For me it just grounds it in the real world which I thought the Netflix shows were more about than the MCU.
So as I was putting the finishing touches to this I woke to the news that Iron Fist has officially cancelled by Netflix. There will be no season 3. Ultimately I was disappointed to hear this news. The finale of season 2 left us with so much potential that will now go untapped. I have already mentioned how the season ends with Colleen now holding the power of the Iron Fist and the tease of her connection to Wu Ao-Shi. In her last scene of the season we see her about to face off with some goons, channelling her new power through her Katana. It is a great visual and a great character moment. I would have happily gone for a season 3 where Colleen is Iron Fist. It would have paralleled well with how we left Danny at the end too. He went off to ‘find himself’ and Ward decided to tag along. I would even have taken more Ward as I think he would have worked in this role better. In the final scene of the season and in Iron Fist ever I guess it flashes forward a few months to Danny and Ward on their travels.
They are in a bar questioning some locals. The name Orson Randall is brought up! The Danny stands and draws two guns! I don’t need to say anymore do I? So the season left us with two brilliant moments. Two moments that opened to the door to so much potential and ultimately got me excited for season 3. In hindsight with the news that broke over the weekend do you think the creators knew the end was coming? In the end they treated the fans by going out on a high and now they don’t have to back it up with anything. Or do they? Danny Rand and Colleen Wing can not simply be removed from existence in the Marvel Netflix universe now. It has since been stated they will appear in other shows. Say Danny appears in Luke Cage season 3 will it be Heroes For Hire or will he just be a supporting character? If he is a supporting character how much of the storyline is going to be dedicated to him? Will he get the power of the Iron Fist back in Luke Cage season 3? Rightfully Jessica Henwick has got a lot of praise for her role as Colleen Wing but is there enough story to get a Daughter of The Dragon series? If it was eight episodes I would say yes but essentially it will be Iron Fist season 3 if she has the power. Most of the second seasons of the Marvel Netflix shows got mixed reviews. At the end of the day it was Netflix decision to cancel not Marvels. Jeph Loeb still saw plenty of potential moving forward. So has this character now been backed into a corner he may struggle to get out of?
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Ian currently runs the THEBLOGOFCOMICSHOTTOPICS blog. Check him out on Twitter @IanWells87.
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