SPOILER WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Marvel’s The Defenders, available now on Netflix.
It certainly made sense on Marvel’s Iron Fist why the duplicitous Madame Gao and Bakuto would want to recruit Danny Rand to their cause, as having the protector of K’un-Lun as an ally would be a blow to their enemies and a boon to the Hand. He’s a living weapon, after all; a legendary fighter. But why, with the Black Sky now in their possession, would the founders of ancient organization remain so focused on the Iron Fist? Naturally, The Defenders provides the answer.
Although Sigourney Weaver’s Alexandra, enigmatic leader of the Hand, demonstrates in their first meeting that she’s more than happy to kill Matt Murdock, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage, she treats Danny with kid gloves. Well, relatively speaking. She seeks to use him, although not as a weapon. He can always die later.
“You think I want him to fight for me?” she asks a momentarily captive Stick in Episode 3. “After a lifetime of serving K’un-Lun, you don’t even know what he is.” He later realizes what viewers might’ve already suspected: That the Iron Fist is the key to whatever the Hand has planned for New York City — and that isn’t a metaphor.
The first, and biggest, clue to that arrives in the second episode, when Madame Gao informs Alexandra that a “wall” has blocked access to what the Hand is attempting to reach deep beneath Midland Circle, where Matt Murdock and Elektra discovered that enormous hole in Daredevil‘s second season. “It’s full of inscriptions, familiar phrases about K’un-Lun,” Gao says, adding that they’ve been unable to find a way to tear down the barrier. Undeterred, Alexandra realizes the obstacle isn’t a mystical wall placed there by the elders of K’un-Lun, but rather a door.
“It’s meant to be opened,” she states confidently. “[…] The conviction of the elders of K’un-Lun was always unwavering. They think it’s a virtue, but in the end all it ever did was make them predictable. They’ve locked it away, but a lock’s not a lock without a key, and from the beginning, they have valued one thing above all else.”
That’s of course where the Immortal Iron Fist, traditional protector of K’un-Lun, comes in. Alexandra at first tries veiled threats to secure Danny’s cooperation, telling him, “I’ve crossed paths with Iron Fists before, but this time is different, because this time … I won’t kill you.” When that doesn’t work, she resorts to flattery, merely tinged with menace: “My organization has always had a great deal of respect for the protector of K’un-Lun.” In the end, however, the Hand — or, more specifically, Elektra in her role as the Black Sky — takes a more direct approach, neutralizing Matt, Jessica, Luke and Stick, and quite literally dragging Danny back to Midland Circle, and to the mystical door buried deep below.
There’s obviously no way that Danny would willingly lend a hand, or a fist, to his sworn enemies. However, he’s demonstrated time and again that he’s impetuous, and that while he may be a living weapon, it’s frequently a hammer not a sword. Fighting Elektra in front of the enormous door inscribed with writing that should be familiar to him, he summons the power of the Iron Fist, which his far more clever opponent redirects so that key meets lock. That mystical connection opens the entrance sealed for untold centuries, triggering a city-wide blackout, and granting the Hand access to what they so desperately need: the precious substance that’s critical to the resurrection ritual that will ensure the organization’s leaders eternal life.
Available now Netflix, the eight-episode Defenders stars Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock, Krysten Ritter as Jessica Jones, Mike Colter as Luke Cage, Finn Jones as Danny Rand, Elodie Yung as Elektra Natchios, Sigourney Weaver as Alexandra, Eka Darville as Malcolm Ducasse, Simone Missick as Misty Knight, Deborah Ann Woll as Karen Page, Elden Henson as Foggy Nelson, Carrie-Anne Moss as Jeri Hogarth, Scott Glenn as Stick, Rachael Taylor as Trish Walker, Rosario Dawson as Claire Temple and Jessica Henwick as Colleen Wing.
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