The second season of Netflix’s “Iron Fist” is a swift counterpunch to last year’s weak debut of Marvel’s mystical martial artist.
The show is markedly better this time around, with such strong and entertaining efforts from the supporting cast that you can briefly forget about the initial groans surrounding lead Finn Jones’s casting.
But before you can begin your Jones-as-Danny Rand/Iron Fist debate, Season 2 (which begins streaming on Netflix Sept. 7) treats you to a couple of captivating performances from two antagonists who blur the lines between friend and foe.
First, there’s Davos (Sacha Dhawan), Danny’s adoptive brother. He’s a martial-artist equal who feels the Iron Fist power should have been his by birthright and that Danny isn’t deserving of the honor. Davos is already furious because Danny abandoned the magical land of K’un-Lun where they trained to be warriors, and now that K’un-Lun is missing after events in Season 1, he’s even angrier. Guess who he’s going to take that out on?
Every scene with Davos and Danny is intense — even when they’re just trying to have dinner together or have a basic conversation. Their brotherly bond has been broken and Davos’s anger is palpable: He’s only got one emotional gear and never shifts out of it.
Iron Fist fans will also notice that the massive snake tattoo Davos has on his back is confirmation that he becomes one with his comic book alter ego, the Steel Serpent.
But before you can declare the Steel Serpent as our superhero’s biggest problem, Typhoid Mary/Mary Walker (Alice Eve) makes her presence known. Because of a multiple personality disorder, Typhoid Mary is both cunningly dangerous and as welcoming as the girl next door. Perhaps Season 2’s most lethal threat, Typhoid Mary’s loyalties are unclear, a tactic that frequently works in her best interest when she’s deciding who gets the benefit of her dangerous skills. But when that edge goes away, she turns into someone that could be her own worst enemy, questioning the actions of her darker side. Eve’s performance does the classic character tough justice and should have many Marvel fans hoping Typhoid Mary can bleed over into Netflix’s “Daredevil” series, since the two have a relationship in the comics that is both intimate and conflicting.
Thankfully for Danny, his fist isn’t the only one connecting with jaws this season: He’ll need a lot of help taking people down. That’s where the Daughters of the Dragon come in — or more specifically, Colleen Wing (Jessica Henwick) and Misty Knight (Simone Missick).
The two were last seen on the better end of a bar fight in Season 2 of “Luke Cage,” and are back together again looking to help Danny as he tries to figure out exactly what Davos is really up to in New York. They aren’t officially the Daughters of the Dragon just yet (that’s what they’re called in the pages of Marvel Comics), but whenever they’re together, it’s almost guaranteed elbows will start flying.
It’s here where “Iron Fist” improves so much over last season. When the camera is away from our lead superhero and Rand Enterprises board room meetings, it gives Steel Serpent slithering and the Daughters of the Dragon’s physically confrontational form of investigative skills time to shine.
Which brings us to the titular performance: Finn Jones as Danny. If one good thing happened to Jones in his polarizing role, it was a rehabilitative appearance in Season 2 of “Luke Cage” that sent a whole lot of positive chi to that glowing yellow fist. “Luke Cage” showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker didn’t let the bad buzz of “Iron Fist’s” first season deter him from having Jones on his show. Coker knew there was something cool lingering there somewhere, waiting to be harnessed.
But does Jones carry that coolness over into Season 2 of his own show? That’s to be determined.
The biggest question mark with this series is just how “super” it’s trying to be. Finn Jones is still running around New York often looking like his only superpower is gentrification. If fans are willing to give him another shot at Iron Fist, is he at least going to look the part? Where’s the yellow mask and green suit?
Season 2 sees Danny fighting in a gang war with a scarf covering his face, so he’s at least realized that taking on crime at night requires concealing his identity, especially since he’s still involved with his family business. But the show is still teasing us, even though we’ve also seen the classic yellow and black Iron Fist mask — at least in the form of flashbacks to K’un-Lun during the second season’s trailers.
If a costume reveal is a part of Season 2, Netflix could take to social media to reveal the look shortly before “Iron Fist” begins streaming, like they did before Season 1 of “Daredevil.” An extra treat would be not only Jones getting a suit, but Dhawan’s Davos getting a similar purple one, just like in the comics, for when they no doubt battle it out toward the end of this season.
It’s the one thing missing that could make Season 2 of “Iron Fist” not only restorative, but redemptive.