It's no secret that the fan-response to Netflix's Iron Fist series was lukewarm at best. Before it was released, the Finn Jones-starring series received a fairly large amount of hype as the formation of the Defenders approached. On top of that, Iron Fist was already a very popular character from the comics -- meaning that fans already had high expectations for the Living Weapon's first foray into live-action television. However, longtime comic fans were ultimately left disappointed with a series that opted to show an Iron Fist only coming into his own instead of a full-fledged superhero.
In Iron Fist, Danny Rand wasn't the world's greatest fighter, or the most mature character. He was on a season-long search for purpose and identity, and many felt like this was the wrong direction for the series to take. Instead of having the season's story dive into the mythology of the comics, the series largely took place in New York, examining Danny's return to civilized life. And, instead of focusing on the Iron Fist's formative years of training in K'un-Lun, a very important location in the source material, we only caught a few glimpses of the mystical city.
Now that the character has been established in the Netflix shows and now that Danny Rand has fully embraced his role as a protector in the closing moments of Season 1 of The Defenders, the second season of Iron Fist can finally go into uncharted territory. Cameras started rolling on Season 2 and while we don't know what direction the season will take yet, we hope the series will dive head first into the comics, and give us a story steeped in mysticism.
At its core, the story of Iron Fist has always been based on the mystical. His glowing hand may be derived from his chi, but it's a power that verges more on the magical side than the realistic. K'un-Lun, the mystical city of monks that have produced countless Iron Fists, is a place that exists on a different plane. It only appears once every 10 years and on top of all that, it's the home of a fire-breathing dragon, Shou-Lao the Undying.
While Season 1 of Iron Fist mentioned all of these things, it didn't really show us any of it. Sure, we saw a few flashbacks of Danny in a room with monks; we saw him standing at the gates of K'un-Lun, and we saw him enter the cave where he would face Shou-Lao. But we never really got to see K'un-Lun as a real, living and breathing place. We didn't see its village or its inhabitants, its customs or its practices. Considering that Danny's sole mission is to protect this very special place, it's high time that we actually get to see it. In order for us to understand Danny better, we really need to not only see K'un-Lun, but experience it as a real and strange place.
In order to achieve that, we hope that the series will look to The Immortal Iron First comic book series by Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction and David Aja, a series seen by many as a quintessential Iron Fist run. Specifically, Season 2 should look to "The Seven Capital Cities of Heavan" storyline, which saw Danny enter a reality-spanning fighting contest between seven mystical cities, to see which had the best fighter. Not only would this allow Danny Rand to truly cut loose and up his fighting game, it would also be a great departure from the first season, which only focused on the Hand infiltrating New York.
Besides, for as long as we have known Danny in the Netflix universe, we have seen him away from the home he has always known, a fish-out-of-water situation that has led to him being treated as a bit of a lunatic. It would be crucial for season 2 of the series to finally show us the reverse -- to bring in an outsider like Colleen Wing to K'un-Lun, and have her be the fish-out-of-water. This would go a long way to rectify how we perceive Danny, while allowing the character to be his fully-realized self.
But since K'un-Lun had disappeared at the end of Season 1, how could Danny return, you might wonder. Well, it just so happens that the answer, once again, is in Brubaker, Fraction and Aja's comic series. In that story, Danny Rand found out that, even though K'un-Lun wasn't on Earth anymore, there was still a way for him to travel there, in the form of a steampunk-inspired portal constructed a long time ago underneath the foundations of his company's building in New York. The Defenders has already established that Danny was looking for K'un-Lun so, as we pick up with him in season 2, it would be very organic for him to find out about this portal -- something that he has been looking which, ironically, was under his very nose this entire time. In turn, this would allow for Danny to find out more about his father and his own quest to find K'un-Lun, as well as previous furthering the idea of the previous Iron Fists, one of whom we briefly saw in season 1.
The first season of Iron Fist may have disappointed some, but it did establish a strong foundation for Danny and his cast to stand on. There is definitely a way for the sequel season to follow up elegantly from that, by gradually moving from New York to K'un-Lun. Danny's enemy Davos, aka the Steel Serpent, whom we saw a fair amount of back in the first season, has now been set up as a villain, and it just so happens that the Serpent was one of the villains and combatant in "The Seven Capital Cities of Heaven." The comic story even found the time to involve Hogarth, Luke Cage, Colleen Wing, Misty Knight and even the evil organization HYDRA in a battle to save K'un-Lun from total destruction.
There truly is the possibility for Season 2 of Iron Fist to be great. It just needs to move away from Season 1 and embrace the mystical foundations of its main character. The mythology of Iron First is about heroism, mysticism and legacy. And it's time for the series to give us all three.