To date I have rather enjoyed the extended Marvel universe as presented on Netflix. Daredevil was…well, an absolute masterpiece. Season one is easily amongst the best of what Netflix has to offer, and the season long build up to Matt Murdock donning the red suit, for only moments in the last episode, is spectacular. Season two was good, but not nearly as good as S1, with The Punisher doing a bang up job of dispensing brutal justice. Jessica Jones S1 was good, with David Tennant almost stealing the show as Killgrave, aka: The Purple Man, while S2 was, a little tougher to watch, but good. I dont feel bad for watching it. Luke Cage S1 was cheesy, but fun. I always figured it was meant to be kind of cheesy due to the semi-Blaxploitation aspect of the comic, and S2 was better. I really enjoyed the supposed antagonist, and the actual antagonist was extremely well acted.
Then we come to Iron Fist.
The first season was kind of tough to watch because it seemed so scatterbrained. For those of you not in the know, the story centers around one Danny Rand, inheritor of the Rand Corporation and literal billionaire (reportedly more so than even Tony Stark). Lost in a plane crash and assumed dead when in actuality he survived and was found and nursed back to health by a secret clan of monks from the city of K’un-L’un. Eventually he became a great martial arts master and defeated the dragon Shao-lao to gain the position of The Immoral Iron Fist, protector of K’un-L’un and scourge of The Hand, apparently some rival faction hoping to gain entrance to the city. Abandoning his watch over the gates of the city, Danny returns to New York, his home, and reunites with two of his best friends and the current owners of the Rand Corporation and, hilarity ensues. Not really. Intrigue ensues and Danny ends up meeting a girl named Coleen who runs a dojo and together they defeat The Hand. The end.
From S1 we segue into Marvels The Defenders, a combination of all four heroes as they fight, again, against The Hand and some other baddies who want to destroy the city, the world and wreak general havoc.
From there we go into Iron Fist season 2 and…well, its managed to be worse than season one. Why, you ask? The answer is still the story and the way the character of Danny Rand is written. You see, in S1 the biggest problem with Danny Rand is that he contradicts himself and his “training” in every episode. One second he is talking about how his training with the monks taught him to control his emotions, two minutes later he is throwing a fit. His glowing iron fist allows him to punch through walls and smash his opponents to bits, but he seems afraid to use it. In fact, it seems like every time he does call on the power of the iron fist it causes more problems than anything else.
In one of the first few episodes (it may have been the FIRST episode) Danny explains how the fist becomes more powerful the more he suffers in battle. If I remember right (its been a while since I watched S1) they even show a scene of him being beaten by some of the monks with poles until he finally uses the power of the fist. During the show, however, he rarely uses it despite getting the snot knocked out of him repeatedly, and often times its a simple single attack and then…nothing! It disappears and he goes back to just, well, normal fighting.
Season two hasn’t been much better. Without giving too much away lets just say that another monk from Danny’s past (who may have been in S1) comes back to claim what he believes is rightfully his and, unfortunately, this protagonist acts more like the iron fist than the iron fist does. Over and over again Danny seems inept and incapable of doing what needs to be done to overcome his opponents, and when he does for a brief moment it ends up being turned into a net negative. By comparison this protagonist has a clear and defined goal, does whatever it takes to reach it and has no issue with dispensing with others that get in his way.
“Well, Danny Rand is the good guy!”, you might say, “He would never be so ruthless!”. Maybe, but we are talking about an Iron Fist who is supposed to be defeating evil! Evil that gives no quarter (except when convenient to the plot), evil that, if not defeated, will only rear its ugly head back up even stronger! This isn’t Batman, people! The Iron Fist didn’t make a personal promise to never kill anyone! While Danny continues to fuss and whine people die. Admittedly if he acted the way you would expect someone with his abilities would act the season might only be an episode or two long, but even so, the writers need to put a little more thought into their writing. Yes its fiction, yes its comic book, but even comic books have to adhere to certain unspoken laws and rules when their setting is the modern world we live in.
I dont think I can recommend anyone watch season 2 unless you just want to be consistent and say you watched it before another Defenders comes around. It grates on the nerves, the characters do things that make zero sense, even in comic book world and Danny is still acting like he has no idea what he wants to do or even why he wants to do anything! He doesn’t really seem to have a goal. Is he trying to stop the rouge monk? Is he trying to stop a war between the Triads? Is he trying to save the people of New York by fighting crime? Someone who knows should tell him so he can focus.
Now, dont get me wrong, I like the actor that PLAYS Danny Rand. I think he’s a good choice, and his acting skills seem to be up to par. He can emote, but he just seems like his emoting doesn’t have a goal. The other actors and actresses are good, though I think there’s a little too much estrogen flooding the show, and the Netflix MCU in general. The antagonist in S1 of Daredevil was a guy, then in S2 it was a girl. Same thing for Luke Cage. Jessica Jones was reversed, S1 was a male antagonist while S2 was female. Iron Fist S1 was male, S2 female while The Defenders also had a female protagonist. Two, in fact. Aside from Danny there are three other “bad ass” women, one who beats the hell out of him. I have no problem with this in comic book movies, but with the current state of Disney and the MCU it is noticeable that they are flooding EVERY film with female characters (more on that in another post).
I’m not through all of Iron Fist season 2, but I certainly hope that, by its end, it gets more organized. I like the character but I dont like the show and that’s sad, especially considering its hosted in the same universe and the same city as Daredevil and The Punisher, both extremely well done, extremely brutal shows.