Years: 2017 — 2018
Synopsis: In dereliction of his duty as the Immortal Iron Fist, Danny Rand returns home to New York City, awkwardly reclaiming his name and true strength, but later must reinvent his life’s purpose.
• Colleen Wing (Jessica Henwick), Madam Gao (Wei Ching Ho), and Harold Meachum (David Wenham) help to make up for the first season’s blatant narrative weaknesses.
• Does further expand the mythology surrounding The Hand, an ancient crime organization, helping to further set up the events of The Defenders (2017).
• Perhaps for the first time in the MCU, Finn Jones seems out of place as the Iron Fist, whether that be because of the sometimes stilted acting, poor writing, or weaker action sequences.
• Iron Fist comes off as the most unlikeable of the Defenders.
• Has some of the weakest writing seen up to this point in the MCU.
• The first few episodes are very slow and without much narrative, and could have been reedited into not much more than twenty minutes of flashbacks.
• Fails to overcome the “white savior” narrative issues, almost ignoring story elements like how some of Fist’s compatriots in K’un-Lun came to resent the outsider for achieving the gift of the Iron Fist power and title.
The MCU had a good run up to this point, when it came to first outings. A disaster seemed more and more inevitable. Is Iron Fist a complete disaster? No, but taken on its own, the show does not stand out well. Danny Rand/Iron Fist comes off as an utter fool throughout much of the season: Not everything was the fault of the Hand, and assuming the world would welcome him back without question. The first season does, however, become more watchable once halfway through, even if we may still not like Fist very much. Colleen Wing is an amazing and dynamic character, and Gao is gloriously cold and calculated. Meachum, too, becomes very interesting, as we learn all the resurrection concoction did to him was make him more comfortable with showing his horrid self to the world.
Since the first season aired, Iron Fist seemed the primary target of a total makeover, to use the parlance of our times. The character and show became the butt of jokes in the succeeding Defenders series, being a clear means of softening the negative reactions. The character seemed subtly more focused and at home during the Defenders (2017) miniseries, and was surprisingly more likable in his appearance in the second season of Luke Cage (2016-present). His annoying ego was largely gone, even more relaxed and focused, and even self-deprecating. I must admit, though, comedic roasting seemed an odd way to fuel a character’s reinvention, but it has worked thus far. Hopefully the second season of Iron Fist continues of this strong path.
9/8/2018 Update: Season two largely continues the positive trend of making Fist a better character. The MCU never has a second outing see so much improvement before. This season’s weakness largely lies in its first season, even though the second season can be followed without it. While S1 had an at times annoyingly selfish and foolish heart, S2 has a very imperfect human heart. It does not really apologize for anything, because it does not really know how. Iron Fist was technically wrong to leave his post to reclaim his old life, but ironically fulfilled his duty in doing so. Now, he feels he has no purpose. As a result, S2 is somewhat ponderous in it workmanlike implementation. That is, perhaps, a reflection of the show’s followers, who needed to see an unprecedented narrative reworking without a reboot. “You lead with asshole …” might indeed be the narrative core of the show now. It began in a way that likely turned viewers away, but now wants to show it is something more somehow …
9/26/2018 Update: At least on Netflix, the show has been canceled. Luke Cage was canceled as well, suggesting a probable push toward Disney’s own upcoming streaming service. Regardless, there may be a variety of factors in a show’s cancellation from viewership to unhappy producers. There is a good chance we still have not seen that last of the Immortal Iron Fist, Wing, and others: It’s All Connected …
4/25/2019 Update: Nothing is ever truly forgotten; nothing is ever truly lost. Hulu appears more than open to expanding its Marvel offerings. With them now majority own by Disney post Fox buyout, they are primed to show the more adult oriented offerings Disney+ will not offer. If this possibility of continuation comes to fruition, there will be an extra year wait for new episodes, per deal with Netflix. In Fist’s case, however, hopefully there will be more rejiggering, if not making him more a recurring character in the other series. Or perhaps even just give us a series focussed Coleen Wing and Misty Knight …
Marvel Cinematic Universe
Rotten Tomatoes —
S1 – 19%
S2 – 52%