With Jessica Jones season 3 ending Netflix’s series of shows starring Marvel’s ground-level heroes, I look back at all thirteen seasons they did from 2015-2019.
While it started out fantastic—with the first seasons of DD, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage in particular achieving greatness on multiple levels—it petered out pretty quickly. Part of it was some weaker entrants (Iron Fist season one), part of it was sophomore seasons unable to live up to their debuts (DD and JJ’s second seasons were both steps downward), and a huge part of it was Netflix losing interest in partnering with Marvel once Disney announced their own streaming service. As a result, The Punisherseason two and Jessica Jones season three were released this year with minimal fanfare or buzz, feeling for all the world like Netflix was releasing them solely to fulfill contracts.
My final piece on Marvel’s Iron Fist season two looks at the Netflix show’s sophomore season from a martial arts, and fight choreography, perspective. On the one hand, it’s better than season one. On the other, it’s still wanting in many respects.
Danny Rand is supposed to be the finest fighter in all K’un-Lun. He is supposed to have absorbed the lessons of kung fu, of martial arts, of being the Living Weapon better than anyone. He is supposed to be able to defeat any opponent, which is why he was given the honor of fighting Shao Lao the Undying to become the Immortal Iron Fist.
The one thing he should never, ever, ever be portrayed as is a whiny entitled twerp. And it’s not like this is arcane knowledge that only a martial artist would understand, because all Buck and his team of writers had to do to see what a good portrayal of someone from such a city trying to survive in modern New York would be is to read the comic books their TV show is based on.
CAN WE PLEASE HAVE A DAUGHTERS OF THE DRAGON SERIES, FOR CRYIN’ OUT LOUD?
My review of Marvel’s Iron Fist season two pretty much boils down to the above paragraph. It’s better than season one, but that mostly means that Finn Jones is not too annoying, as opposed to being incredibly annoying. The gold here is Simone Missick and Jessica Henwick as Misty Knight and Colleen Wing, and the show itself leans into that, putting Danny Rand out of action for a significant portion, putting these two women in the spotlight. Click here for the whole review.
The season’s main theme is recovery from trauma. Everyone is dealing with the aftermath of some kind of personal disaster, and how they deal with it shapes the entire season. Rand no longer has his home, as K’un L’un is gone, and the Iron Fist’s purpose—to fight the Hand—is also not a factor anymore, and he spends most of the season trying to figure out who and what he is. Wing has stopped teaching, as that’s a remnant of her life as a disciple of the Hand, and she needs to move past that—but she’s not sure how. She finds her work in the community center to be satisfying, but she also never has an answer to Knight’s question about where she sees herself in five years. It’s also telling that the only time Wing seems alive and happy is when she’s in a fight.
Based on the first three episodes, Marvel’s Iron Fist season two on Netflix is way better than season one. Of course, that’s a low bar to clear, but the show is coping better with Finn Jones’s severe limitations and the writing is actually coherent so far.
The biggest improvement from season one so far is that the plotting is intricate and all coming together nicely, at least so far. There are seven more episodes for it to go to hell, of course, but for the moment the different threads are weaving together nicely. (And yes, only seven more episodes. This season is only ten episodes, which can only be a good thing, as too many of the MCU Netflix shows have been painfully padded.)
Back in 2017, in anticipation of Marvel’s Iron Fist season 1, I wrote an article for Tor.com called “A Brief History of Iron Fist in the Comics.” Shortly after that, I reviewed that first season for the site, and likewise reviewed the character’s subsequent appearances in Marvel’s The Defenders season 1 and in “The Main Ingredient” episode of Marvel’s Luke Cage season 2.
Next week, I’ll be reviewing Iron Fist season 2 for the site — it goes live on Netflix today — and in anticipation of that, Tor.com has reprinted my history of Iron Fist in four-color form.
In 1966, Masutatsu Oyama, the founder of Kyokushin—an Okinawan karate style that still exists and thrives today—sent one of his best students and teachers, Tadashi Nakamura, to New York City to bring karate to the United States. Nakamura was but one of many people who came from Asia to the United States to bring martial arts to a country that was growing ever-more curious about it. I mention him in particular because there’s a direct line from Oyama sending Nakamura to America and my own study of the martial arts. In 1976, Nakamura formed his own karate style, Seido, and one of his best students and teachers—William Oliver—formed his own in 2001, Kenshikai, and that’s the discipline that I study today.
The same year that Nakamura traveled to New York City to open a dojo here, a young man named Bruce Lee co-starred in a TV show called The Green Hornet. While the show only lasted a season, Lee’s impact was tremendous, and he quickly rose to prominence as an action star. Lee pioneered his own martial art, Jeet Kune Do, and he soon became immensely popular both in acting circles and martial arts circles. His tragic death in 1973 only served to enhance his legend. And it was in part because of that legend that Iron Fist was born.
Check it out!