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Published September 6, 2018

'Marvel's Iron Fist' Showrunner on Season 2's Ending

SPOILER ALERT! M. Raven Metzner on all of the big events that occurred by the end of Season 2.


Full spoilers for "Marvel's Iron Fist" Season 2 follow, including the season finale. If you haven't watched the new season yet, go check it out on Netflix, then come back here for our post-mort with Showrunner M. Raven Metzner!

lot happened by the end of “Marvel’s Iron Fist” Season 2, as we saw the Iron Fist itself find a new owner yet again – even as Danny Rand went on his own journey that included showing some decidedly Iron Fist-like abilities, but with a twist. 

Having finished all ten episodes of Season 2, spoke to “Marvel’s Iron Fist” Executive Producer and Showrunner M. Raven Metzner about all that occurred by the end for Danny and Colleen, and other key characters. So let’s start at the very end, because plenty was going on in that final scene! Obviously, a lot has happened in the months we skip over, given what we see Danny do in those final moments. Safe to say that you’ve given a good amount of thought to what might have occurred?

M. Raven Metzner: I think a lot of it has to do with the promise of that last scene before the time jump with Ward, when Danny is talking about the dual-sided purpose of his journey - one to find purpose and a true path and the other to search out the person who may or may not have shipped that body with the mask to Davos. We discover when we’re in that scene with Ward at the bar, this name, Orson Randall, seems like it’s tied in to that delivery. So yeah, I have a lot of ideas about what happened in that time but I think there are some clues that we left as to the direction of this journey and some interesting questions about what may have happened to him along the way. The name Orson Randall will certainly raise some eyebrows for people familiar with the comics. Meanwhile, you end on this beat where you ask, “Wait, does Danny somehow have the Iron Fist back?” - but then what he does in that moment with the guns is very different than what we’re used to with his fighting style. Was it fun to subvert things a bit?

M. Raven Metzner: I think that’s part of it. The other part of it, which was really important to me, has to do with the fact that Danny, in that last moment, is drawing a gun but he’s not using it to shoot someone. He’s using it to defend himself and using it to deflect a bullet that is fired at him. That was a really conscious decision made by myself and Jeph Loeb and all the other creatives in the writers’ room and at Netflix and Marvel about the nature of that moment. I’m a comic fan and I love the Orson Randall character and I love those issues. At the same time, I think there’s a lot inherent in the idea of a gun as a weapon – in the same way that Colleen in that last moment has a sword, but her behavior to the people she goes up against is to first offer them a chance to surrender. I think there’s something in this show that I’m very interested in that has to do with the Iron Fist in general, and these different weapons, which has to do with, “You have a weapon. How do you choose to use it?” I think that’s a question that is raised and very interesting to me. 

Marvel's Iron Fist With Colleen, it’s the end of episode eight when Danny says that he’d like her to take on the Iron Fist. By doing it like that and not having it be a surprise in the finale, it almost raises the expectation that it either won't happen or perhaps it will happen but then be undone very quickly. Was it important for you to get that idea out there earlier and then to really stick to it?

M. Raven Metzner: A lot of thought process went into that moment and that decision. First of all, Danny isn’t sure he should be the one who should carry the power until he’s really found himself. I think it was a mature decision for him to make and a really difficult one. Especially, as we learn in the season, just how much the Iron Fist means to K’un-Lun and to him and how it gave him all this purpose. I think that in itself was very complicated and it was very difficult for him. I think that he sees in Colleen the kind of person that can hold the weapon and use it responsibly in  a way that he had not been able to. He’s saying to her, “I can’t hold the Fist. It should be someone like you.” The reason we did it there and not as a surprise later on, was that it was really important to us that Collen come to the decision to carry the Iron Fist on her own terms and not because Danny asked her to do it. So, at first she refuses, absolutely. And we play that beat for most of an episode until in episode nine, very much her own story, based on the connections she’s made and her role in Chinatown, she decides for herself that she wants to carry this power and become her own kind of hero. So I think part of it had to do with, yea,  you want to put it out there so people think we won’t do it, but it also had to do with really making sure that Colleen comes to this on her own and not because anybody, including the person she loves the most and her friend, tells her to do it. The last time we see Colleen, after the time jump, she certainly seems to be embracing the role as the Iron Fist. Is it safe to assume that her stopping those thieves at the end has become a fairly common part of her life at that point?

M. Raven Metzner: I don’t know about common. She’s said that she wants to try to find a way to help people. That’s been her mission and her desire all the way through all of these seasons, whether she was running a dojo or doing vigilante adventures with Danny and the other Defenders - she’s always been trying to find a way to help. I think this season, she makes a really strong choice in trying to find a way to help without using violence. So I think that journey is one -- ever since we last see her and through the [time] jump -- that she’s been discovering in that area. I don’t know that she’s come to a place where she’s comfortable roaming the streets. But she’s chosen to become a hero and a vigilante and an Iron Fist, which I think, in itself, is a really, really cool thing and something that, honestly I’m so excited about. Danny lost the Iron Fist by the midpoint of the season and the mystery in that final scene aside, he never regains it during the course of the story in Season 2. Going into Season 2, did you know early on you wanted to do to test him in this manner, for a prolonged period of time?

M. Raven Metzner: As you do when you create a season of television, you go in with a plan and it was one that was pretty solid, but things shift and change. As we began to write the first couple episodes, you’ve got the season plotted out, but the first arcs are more tightly plotted because you want to leave yourself some wiggle room, as things evolve and characters change and casting happens. Very early on, there were a number of conversations with myself and Jeph Loeb and I know Jeph had a lot of conversations with Joe Quesada and Dan Buckley and everyone on the creative side of Marvel about this.

There are two ways to look at a season of television. You can start the character at a certain place and they go on a journey and come back having learned a lesson. And that’s interesting but also feels sort of closed ended. And there’s another version in which a character goes on a journey and you think they’re going to make a choice and they go in a very different direction, and to me, what that does is says “This is a story I want to see” and it also says Colleen’s journey this season takes her to a wholly new and unexpected place and also is very exciting. Also, it puts Danny in a place that’s not a promise of more of the same. It’s a promise of a very different journey for him. One distinction I think is interesting as well is that of all these characters who have had the Fist, Danny is the only one who fought the dragon for it. He’s got that mark burned on his chest. He’s got that scar. And he’s part of the pantheon. Season 1 introduced that there were other Iron Fists. The show and the comic has always played off the idea that Danny is anIron Fist and a very important one. 

So this choice, when we made it and committed to it, was one we were all really excited about because to us it just says “I want to know where this story goes” as opposed to living in a place where you’re like “Fixed that problem, grew up a little bit, waiting for the next problem to come!” We sort of had two branching paths to choose from. I think in the end, what I’m really excited about is we chose the one we were all really passionate about. I had a lunch I’ll never forget with Jeph Loeb, where as we talked over what this meant and picked the tires, kind of, we were both so excited about all the places it could take the characters and the series.

Marvel's Iron Fist The inclusion of Mary was a really exciting element this season. In the finale, she makes some big realizations about the possibility of this other persona. Do you think that’s something she already vaguely suspected, or was that a total surprise? 

M. Raven Metzner: I think everyone has memories that they’d rather not unpack or things that have happened in the past or when time goes by or trauma where it’s too painful to get into it. That’s why I love in episode eight that beautiful flashback to Walker waking up covered in blood and wondering how she got here. That moment is something for her that she’s always felt something strange about and she made, for herself, a plausible answer. And I think Mary did the same. What I love about the realization here, and I like it a lot because it ties in Ward and it ties in Danny and her association that these characters mean something. Over the course of the journey, she’s been forced to look back at this crucial moment and know it couldn’t have been her and it couldn’t have been Mary, so it’s someone else. In a way, it’s a moment where the character comes full circle into an even more fully realized version of the character in the comics. That’s Bloody Mary, right? So we decided in the writers’ room that while she might have felt there was something there, she left it and left it and left it, and tried to put it behind her and move past it. But you can’t. So she has that realization. Alice Eve was so great throughout the season. What was it like for you seeing her turn in these two incredibly different performances?

M. Raven Metzner: Alice Eve is one of the greatest individuals and actors that I know and I have so much respect for her and am very proud of what she was able to achieve. She threw herself into the deep end. She’s done some physical work before but she’s never done action like this before. And the amount of work it took for her to get to a place where she could do a lot of what was required of her took days and days and days in the stunt dojo and that’s incredibly taxing, physically. And she never quit. [Stunt Coordinator] Clayton Barber and I had many conversations about it and he said to me “There are some people who can work and work and work and don’t get it and there are some people who can work and work and have the right temperament to be an action hero,” and very quickly, Clayton said he started to recognize that Alice had that in her. All she had to do was climb the mountain. So that’s the physical side and then when you take that and add the challenge of creating those characters and differentiating them, it’s just so magical. The great thing about Alice as well is she’s an amazing collaborator and she and I and Jeff really kept the lines of communication open and really pushed to make sure that the characters felt different enough but not so far apart that it didn’t feel grounded and real. Then there were moments that were really fun for Alice and I which I call “comic book moments” where I would send her pages of Typhoid Mary comics and go “I want this moment. Fan we get this?” When she said “Whatever blows your skirt up” at the end of episode four, that’s a direct quote from the Ann Nocenti TYPHOID comic. I sent her the panel, and I was like, “I want to end on this moment” and she was like ,“I love it!” And this is what is so great about Alice. She wasn’t like “It’s my creation.” She read all the comics. She read all the Typhoid Mary I could send her and really soaked it up.

Marvel's Iron Fist Joy and Mary end up somewhat aligned, whether Joy wants that or not.  Meanwhile, Joy continues to be very conflicted. Do you feel like there’s just too much history at this point for her to work things out with Danny? 

M. Raven Metzner: I think what you said about Joy being conflicted is exactly right. She is a tremendously conflicted character and she’s somebody who is really, really trying to make her own way in the world, to try and get free of her past, and that’s really difficult. It’s important to say that I never look at Joy as a bad person. She’s definitely done bad things but she has moments where she comes through. The character who I adore in fiction is Patricia Highsmith’s Tom Ripley from “The Talented Mr. Ripley.” You read about the character and you kind of like him, but when he gets in trouble, he’ll do anything to get out of it, including, in his case, murder. I think that is what I love about Joy. She wants what she wants and she’s not going to let anything get in her way and in a way that comes from conflict and real emotion. I think she’s made a friend in Mary that she didn’t expect to make and at a certain point, she’s trying to get out of the shadow of Davos and this whole situation. And in the end, it’s a little bit of a noir moment where you do all that but you really can’t just deal yourself out. I think Joy is going to have to, at some point, come to terms with all the things she’s done to Danny, Colleen and others. Ward in the meantime is on much more solid footing with Danny. How did you decide to put him on that plane at the end, joining Danny on this trip?  

M. Raven Metzner: Tom Pelphrey is an amazing actor and an amazing guy. I think with Ward, it’s just so amazing because people love the character and it’s a really interesting character. People gravitate toward him. He has the most interesting sense of humor of all the characters. I call him a truth speaker. He says the thing the audience is thinking when no one else can say it. I think many people in the world can relate to someone who has been under someone else’s thumb. This season, I really enjoyed starting him where, yes, he’s still part of Rand [Corporation] and he’s trying to figure out this thing with his sister. But along the way, we’re figuring out who Ward the man is. We’re seeing him struggle with this addiction, struggle with this relationship, struggle with friendship. We’re seeing him deal with all of these real emotions. We didn’t see the end of that conversation, but in that moment, Ward knows, just like Danny, that he needs to find himself. He needs to find out who he really is. The answer’s not Joy, it’s not having a child and the answer’s not at Rand. There’s that, which I think is really great and earned. But also, I do think there’s kind of a “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” vibe between the two of them that is fun to watch, but also fatalistic and sad, but a joy. I wrote the scenes for them all the way through the season, hoping that chemistry would happen, and it did. And we earned that moment where you buy that Ward and Danny are going to go on adventures together and those adventures would be fun to watch. You had a lot of great fight scenes this season. Is there one you were particularly excited to see brought to life from how you conceived it to the final version?

M. Raven Metzner: I think all of the fights this season were masterfully choreographed by Clayton Barber and filmed by Niels Alpert, our DP, and all of our directors. There’s so much to like about all of the in different ways. For me, and this is something I talked a lot with Jessica Henwick about, we started Colleen in a place with her sword on the wall, where she’s put down the role of fighting and being an adventurer and being a vigilante. To me, the arc of her fights is so interesting. At first, she’s reluctant in the kitchen and she’s defensive when she’s fighting Chen Wu. She has to do that to help Mrs. Yang. Every step of it, you’re watching evolution through action of these character choices. I love when she has that moment of outburst where she goes to save BB and takes down all the Pixies. It’s such an emotional fight. And at the last moment, as emotional as it is, she goes to a place of peace. My favorite fight with her is the final fight in episode ten where she fights Davos and goes all the way through taking him down, out in the street, and then uses the Iron Fist to do the fist on fist punch. And that last moment where she knocks him back and she’s standing there, with her fists glowing. To me, is is the promise of all of those fights adding up to the creation of this new hero, an Asian American woman who is carrying the Iron Fist. That, to me is something that I’m so proud of and so excited about and I’m so excited for Jessica to see where that story goes. I love all the fights this season. I like that one because it feels like all the math adds up and all along the way, when you finally get there, there’s no anger and aggression at Davos. That fight is story. When a fight is story like that, I think it’s really powerful. 


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