This is a spoiler-free review of Iron Fist Season 2’s opening episodes.
Iron Fist has an entitlement problem. Since pre-production, it’s been a well-documented issue with the show, both in theory and practice, from the whitewashing of the lead role, to most characters’ attitudes towards their privileged lives spent fighting over a company their parents built. Instead of recognising the issue and reacting accordingly, Season 2 of Marvel’s Iron Fist doubles down on the problem in the hopes of making Danny Rand seem more likeable.
Setting up former allies Joy (from whom Danny ‘stole’ Rand Enterprises) and Davos (from whom Danny ‘stole’ the Iron Fist mantle) as the main antagonists of the season, Marvel have inexplicably decided to make entitlement a conscious theme, as characters across the series spend their hours discussing their ‘birthrights’ and how Rand has taken it from them. Wade Meachum, Joy’s brother, pivots from being the uniquely dislikable spanner-in-the-works to being a uniquely dislikable ally of Danny’s against Joy. In short, the roles have changed, but the petulant squabbling over perceived insults continues stronger than ever.
The main difficulty in writing Iron Fist is that, as a superhero, he has no niche. While the show’s fight choreography has improved a little (thanks to new choreographer Clayton Barber), it still pales in comparison to Daredevil’s martial arts sequences, even with the supernatural fist involved. Also, having alienated many fans by casting Finn Jones (who is still doing his best with a strikingly dull character), and without the internal conflict, empowering of a minority or community roots offered by the other Defenders, Iron Fist is stuck with incredible powers used primarily for keeping ahold of his multi-billion dollar company; you can add all the stereotypical Buddhist wisdom you like, but it’s impossible not to see him as a wealthy white guy with superpowers complaining about things never going his way.
Even with Danny struggling to live up to the promise he made to Matt Murdock at the end of The Defenders, his focus seems to never waver from his own problems, and most of the defending of the city is done by shining light Colleen Wing. Jessica Henwick’s loyal companion graduates to co-hero this season, getting almost equal screen time and definitely doing more of the heavy-lifting. She takes point, attempting to broker peace between several violent triads, for which the credit goes exclusively to the ‘Immortal Iron Fist’, who spends most of the opening three episodes whinging, sulking, and overthinking his fairly simplistic responsibilities.
Apart from Colleen, the only other redeeming feature for Season 2 so far is Alice Eve’s backwards newcomer, Mary, who manages to be the only part of the show that remains entirely without predictable tedium; her enigmatic post-it notes and morals remain a total mystery, even to herself. Revealing a little more at the conclusion of Episode 3, Eve’s addition may be the one thing that keeps Iron Fist watchable among all the self-serving demands, frustrating complaints and wall-to-wall mediocrity.
Iron Fist Season 2 is available on Netflix UK, as part of £7.99 monthly subscription.