With a new showrunner leading the story in a different path, and the 'Black Panther' stunt coordinator serving us seriously good-looking fight scenes, a fiery Danny Rand awaits on Season 2 of Marvel's Iron Fist, now available on Netflix.
Iron Fist had a rough start, its first season faced with many challenges, such as actor Finn Jones' lack of time in training for his role. In this new season, we are treated to more hardworking action sequences, the many months of martial arts training Jones underwent proves to have paid off immensely. In season 2 we see Danny Rand and Colleen Wing protecting New York city, following everything that went down on The Defenders. Iron Fist now steps up as the city's hero with Matt Murdock gone, but not without challenges from both old and new enemies.
Finn Jones, along with the new 'Iron Fist' showrunner Raven Metzner sit down for this excusive interview to fill us in on what they've worked on for the show and how much different things will be for the series this time around in the ten-episode season. Read on for the highlights of the Q&A below:
Question: Finn, for the first season, you had to jump in very close to the production and didn't really have all that much time to get into the martial arts. Did you get more time to work on the action sequences this time around?
Finn Jones: For season two, I started training four months ahead of shoot date. So we started in August and we started shooting in December. I trained five days a week for four months, in various, different discliplines. I meditated everyday, I did yoga, I worked with an ex shaolin monk with traditional kung fu, traditional tai chi. And I modern form of fighting, more modern kind of MMA stuff to get my stance correct, and I also worked with a personal trainer and she trained me a kind of gymnastic style of training. So instead of just putting on muscle, it was about finding flexibility and tone my body so that I was agile enough to do the martial arts, but also looked toned. And then once Clayton [Clayton Barber, fight coordinator who lead the stunts of 'Black Panther'] was brought on board, the stunt coordinator, about a month before we actually started shooting, we were working with him and the production to create the fight. So this year around we had a lot more preparation time and the focus was to make sure that everyone had time rehearsing the fight scenes with me. So once we shoot them, they were well rehearsed and ready to be shot.
Raven Metzner: Also, specificity with Clayton Barber, our stunt coordinator. Everyone's fighting styles, where they learn to fight, what types of fighting they know about, how their fighting styles need to marry each other. Davos and Danny, they learned to fight from the same place, so therefore their styles need to look the same. Simone is a cop–Misty [Knight] is a cop and also a bar room brawler, we saw that in Luke Cage season two, so we wanna make sure that she fights that way, and she has a bionic arm now. So how does that affect her fighting? So we have these conversations with Clayton, I was in the writer's room for months before the shooting began, and Clayton came on. And we had many, many conversations about how everyone fights and even more importantly, what's their reason for fighting. Why are they fighting? So that, it's not just 'Oh let's fight these people,' but where's the story building and how is it building, so these fights mean something. They're not just action for action's sake, which as everyone knows makes you yawn and is really boring.
Finn: And Clayton was very adamant this year. The audience see the actors onscreen fighting as much as possible, and so what that meant was lots of rehearsal time. Often we'd go on the weekends to rehearse, and it was lots of repetition between the actors. So actors would come together just to repeat the choreography over and over again. And that's really great because it gets you to the rhythm, and it's like a dance. But what's really interesting about that is on a performance level as well. You're performing with these actors and these characters in a much more physical way which help elevate also the drama scenes as well. Especially working with Sasha [Dhawan] as Davos, like where that relationship is, and how our physicality together was, it just really helps us get closer together and make that relationship even more intense.
Raven: Sometimes Clayton would read a scene, like in episode one, there's a scene towards the end of the episode where the two brothers are talking next to the bridge. And Clayton read that scene and he said, "You know what? I want to add a little bit of action to the scene." He goes, "Just leave the conversation, we're not gonna change anything. We're gonna add choreography to it." And the scene is so much stronger now for the choreography. But in that version, the scene came first, and then he read it and it inspired him to add. He goes, "It's so intense! Don't you think they should fight?" And I was like, "You're right!" [laughs]
Q: Are there any Asian action films that inspired Iron Fist for season two, and do you have our favorite Asian action films and stars?
Raven: Oh, I have many favorite Asian action stars. The first film that I ever wrote was a Jackie Chan movie, and I did rewrites on 'Rush Hour 2.' So I was able to meet Jackie and work with him and his stunt team. So that was a big influence on me. I really love Donny Yen in 'Ip Man' 1, 2, and 3, especially 'Ip Man 2.' It's important to me, both of those, to me, are character first, and then action. You know? Ip Man is a great example. The fighting style is who the person is, and Clayton shared a lot of the inspiration, and Jeph Loeb [of Marvel Television], he loves Jackie Chan, because he loves how Jackie uses regular objects in the world, and the fights happen in a very real way. There's many other influences, but I think the big things for me were the performance of Donny Yen in Ip Man and yeah, Jackie Chan.
Q: We saw Luke Cage and Danny team up in season one. Are there any upcoming team ups with other heroes?
Finn: Well, we have Misty Knight coming in this season so we're definitely seeing her in a 'Daughters of the Dragon' [Colleen Wing and Misty Knight] style of team up in this season. And I guess we'll just have to see what the future holds, but I'd love to see 'Heroes for Hire' [Danny Rand and Luke Cage]. More of that team up, I think that would be really interesting.
Raven: And also, Typhoid Mary [a.k.a. Mary Walker, played by Alice Eve] is in this season. It's a team up that you don't get to see that much. And seeing those two characters in the season is exciting as well.
Q: Let's talk about Luke Cage and Danny. It's such an unlikely pairing, but you've got this bromance going on. Why do you think they are drawn to each other, why is there a soft spot for each other?
Finn: You're right, they're very opposite from the outside. But I think, I've always thought, that they shared this sense of they're both outsiders. And there's a vulnerability to them, they're quite lonely people because of their abilities. And I think that they found each other in that really weird way, and they seek comfort in each other. And I think that they've just grown to be, you know — they're into the same kind of music, they realize that they can kick ass together pretty well, and I just think they are a good balance for each other. Like opposites attract, and that's one of the cases. Personally, I love working with Mike [Colter], me and Mike have a great chemistry, and it's always fun to share a scene with him.
Q: What about Danny's relationship with the other Defenders?
Finn: It's interesting you mentioned that. Daredevil, one of Daredevil's dying wishes was to protect his city, and Danny's taken that very seriously at the beginning of season two.
Raven: Jessica never answers her phone. [laughs] I was watching season two recently and I was like, she never answers her phone!
Q: Raven, you're taking over this new season. What was the most different and important and element that you feel you'll bring to the second season, as compared to the first?
Raven: I think it's what I kind of said before. I understand completely why the first season needed to happen at Rand. It makes sense. Rhe character went away and he came back, and that's his name and his home. And he' trying to reclaim it. So for me, that story is done. So what I wanted to do–I'm from New York–I wanted to bring him to New York, I wanted to feel New York and shoot him in the streets of New York. And that's one of the great things about shooting there. To be part of the city and all the streets. And even though we were shooting in the middle of the winter, whenever we could this season, I think you'll see a lot of New York, a lot of downtown New York. And we really took pains to bring the show into the world. And I think part of it being in New York is also exploring the characters' relationships outside of each other, to see where they go, where their friends are, where they work, what kind of coffee they drink. To give more to their world, for each of them. That goes for Ward and Joy, too, and Davos. I think you really see every character, all I really try to do is to grow their world and learn more about them.
Q: Finn, after training more in martial arts, has it changed anything for you?
Finn: I'm a much better dancer. [laughs] I love to dance! Like on the weekends, the way I go and restore my chi is to go and dance. [laughs] And I definitely notice that the more martial arts practice I did, the better I was in the dance floor. And it's actually a really funny thing. It was just this moment when was on the dance floor and I was dancing, and I noticed this link between the martial arts and the dance, and I realized, whilst I was training for the second season that they're both very similar. To do a martial arts fight scene is very similar to dancing, and dancing is very similar to martial arts. And once I made that click, it made me just enjoy the whole process so much more because I not only understood it here [points to his head] but I felt it and understood my body a lot better.
Q: How is the camaraderie like behind the scenes and in the set?
Finn: The environment on set is so good. I'm not just saying this, I'm being totally honest here. Everyone is super friendly, super supportive, very down to earth, and everyone just wantw the best for each other. So everyone turns up everyday, and they want to bring the best of themselves to their role into the show, and I just feel really lucky. And that's not just the actors, that's everyone. That's from all the writers, the directors, the crew members. Everyone in this show this season to come back and make it the best possible season we could. And it was really inspiring to come back to that and be surrounded by such positive, great energy.
Raven: I'm also incredibly grateful to all the showrunners who welcomed me this year when I first arrived. Cheo [Hodari Coker, of Marvel's Luke Cage] was just so open and gracious. I remember when I started, they were shooting the crossover, and Cheo shared all the pages with me, and he wanted to know what my plan was for season two so that anything that Danny said or did wouldn't interfere, which was super generous. And then we gave notes to the writer and integrated the thoughts, and then I got to go and watch them film that scene, so I met Mike then. All the way through, when Misty was coming to our season, I gave Cheo all the scripts, he read them all. He came into the writer's room and he talked to all the writers about Misty so we could know more about her, and different things he thought about her. And then I got to know Erik Oleson [Marvel's Daredevil season 3] as well, the other showrunner, and we talked about the process of shooting in New York and about locations that we use and problems with them. I met Steve Lightfoot [Marvel's The Punisher] as well — it's like, it really is in a way, I don't know if you guys are familiar, that in the sixties, Stan Lee had a Marvel Bullpen, right? All the writers that worked for him. And we think of ourselves as the new Marvel Bullpen, that we all work in Marvel and that we share. We share characters, we share ideas, and we support each other. And it's really really lovely.
Season two of Marvel’s Iron Fist is now streaming on Netflix. Visit www.netflix.com, like Netflix on Facebook (/netflixph), and follow on Instagram (@netflixph) and Twitter (@Netflix_PH).