The first season of Iron Fist may not have landed enough punches with the audience but truthfully it was far from the branding of crud that it was given. The online hostility exploded before the show even made its debut on Netflix. Critics unfamiliar - or indifferent - to its comics roots slashed it with a misguided SJW sword, attacking Marvel for casting a martial-arts hero with a white actor. Such criticism is in itself racist, as if a master of kung fu has to automatically be Asian. That plays into stereotyping and completely ignores that Marvel Studios already has an Asian master of kung fu, Shang-Chi, being saved for the films.
Season One of Iron Fist was not terrible.
Compared to the dark beauty of Daredevil, the psychological intensity of Jessica Jones, and the streetwise grit of Luke Cage, its fellow Defenders, sure, Iron Fist was a notch below. But what made Iron Fist so watchable was its women, beautiful and brutal, emotionally and physically. Fresh-faced Jessica Henwick as Colleen Wing, Iron Fist's girlfriend and a formidable martial artist herself, ironically has more chemistry with Simone Missick as NYPD detective Misty Knight than Finn Jones as Fist. The same can be said for Finn and Mike Colter as his comic-book buddy Luke Cage in his own series. The wit and swagger between Henwick and Missick is a true joy to watch; one hopes for a Daughters of the Dragon show on what will likely be the new home of Marvel's cancelled Netflix programs, Hulu, of which Disney will have larger ownership of after the merger with Fox. (Rule out their own upcoming Disney+ streaming channel; these series are too adult and violent for the House of Mouse brand.)
Iron Fist was initially slammed for making Danny Rand too weak, and it doesn't help when he loses his powers to his arch foe but former best friend Davos in Season Two. Speaking of Davos, played here by Sacha Dhawan, he is an unlikable, entitled brat, and it is difficult to see why Rand would have any sympathy for him even though they grew up and trained together. Davos was jealous of and competitive with Rand since the beginning; if there is a buddy dynamic here, it is clearly one-sided with Rand always trying to justify Davos' toxic personality. In other words, he's not that into you. A much more effective, and complicated, villain is Alice Eve as Mary Walker, an assassin with multiple personalities. She is minus the post-punk clothing herelike Typhoid Mary in the comics, a twisted identity they are leading into. Eve vanishes into the role, bubbling with icy creepiness. Quite frankly, she should've been given the spotlight and not Davos; however, it seems like they had to find a way to discard previous showrunner Scott Buck's leftovers.
The action sequences are more fast and furious in Season Two. But while the slowness of the other Marvel Netflix shows enabled them to explore the characters in depth, Fist crashes to a grinding halt. Kung fu pieces are like porno movies: They're all about the action. Toss too much drama in and it's akin to people stopping from humping each other to drink tea and discuss politics.
Despite these flaws, the sparks generated by Henwick and Missick, as well as the punchy gymnastics and Eve's psychotic battle scars make it worthwhile. The season also ends on a weird note - a very bizarre one - that should've been its wild tone from the start.