Iron Fist was easily the weakest of the Marvel-Netflix Defender-themed shows. I still enjoyed it, no matter its relative unpopularity, but I was not blind to its problems. Then I was disappointed again with a how Danny was treated as a character in Defenders, as they had to jump through hoops to advance the plot, and his character, especially, suffered for it. While I was never pessimistic about the show’s second season, I still felt uneasy about it. Sure, they built Danny back up a bit with his appearance in Luke Cage, but it would have broken my heart if they’d failed him again, ya know?
Thus, I am even more immensely pleased than usual with what they actually did.
Where the first season of Iron Fist was weak and left a few things to be desired, its second season is an absolute triumph.
There are only ten episodes, instead of the usual thirteen. As I’ve commented, in almost every review about these shows, about things dragging on for a few episodes too long, that seems a smart choice. This show never slows or slackens or drags or feels too long. It’s a reasonable length for the story they tell, and it’s a very good story!
First of all, the characters are all characters. Nobody’s a prop. Nobody’s a villain just because, or a hero just because. People are complex, and they all develop in some way. The show is deeply about one’s own identity, who one is and who one chooses to be and why. By natural extension of that, it’s also about the struggle with one’s inner demons, either overcoming or succumbing to them. That is the story.
Speaking of which, the plot is fantastic. It’s intricate without being convoluted, compelling without being being ham-fisted, emotional without being melodramatic, etc. And all of it is driven by the characters. It’s their choices, their desires, their relationships, their virtues and their vices and their hopes for redemption, which combine to create this plot.
To mention specifics while skimming entirely around spoilers:
As Danny and those close to him are trying to protect the city of New York, old friends return as new enemies, haunting the heroes with their mistakes and the fallout of their actions. What follows is a gripping, heart-rending tale, full of twists and turns, of shifting relationships among a group of people who are the closest thing to family any of them has, driving them all to choose who they might become. The cascading consequences of these events, as it happens, rises into a flood which could swallow the city, and countless lives, in its path. It’s a battle not only for a place, but for the ties which bind them, and for the ancient power of the Iron Fist itself.
Oh, and the fights are all done properly! 😀
Seriously, this has to be some kind of record, for just how much of an improvement the second season is over the first. The plot, the characters, the combat choreography, the themes, the music (is beautiful!), the cinematography, all of it is so well-crafted, and infinitely better than before. I would easily put it in the higher tier of Defender shows, right alongside the second season of Luke Cage and the first season of Daredevil.
So, yes, I liked it, quite a bit! 😉
Rating: 9 stars out of 10.
Grade: solid A.