SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Marvel’s The Defenders, available now on Netflix.
After a buildup of more than two years, Marvel’s The Defenders, much likes its heroes, finally came hurtling through corridors and onto the screen, kicking down doors and taking names in the process. The highly anticipated drama brought together Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist in ambitious endeavor that gave most fans what they’ve been waiting for, and possibly a little more. But the miniseries didn’t simply deliver a satisfying mix of action, humor and high stakes, it also offered hints to the future of all four Netflix shows — and possibly laid the groundwork for a new one.
To many, perhaps the most crucial thing The Defenders accomplished is help Finn Jones’ Danny Rand to mature, placing the young hero on a path to grow into the Iron Fist that more closely resembles the character from the comics. Some fans were vocal about their disappointment with the depiction of Iron Fist in the first season of his own series, which has proved to be the weakest link in the chain of Marvel Netflix dramas. But Danny wasn’t a hero yet in that first season, not in the way Matt Murdock, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage were on their own series. However, following the events of The Defenders, Iron Fist is ready to step up as the protector of New York City, all thanks to the influence of his newfound friends.
Of his three new allies, there’s one whom Danny has a lengthy comic book history: Luke Cage, alias Power Man. Together, in 1978, they formed Heroes for Hire, a partnership that combined protection and investigative services with more traditional superheroics, and paid the bills in the process. Their friendship in the comics has spanned four decades, withstanding countless villains, series cancellations and relaunches, Avengers membership, and even the marriage of Luke Cage to Jessica Jones.
Even those viewers who weren’t fans of Marvel’s Iron Fist will recognize Danny Rand was elevated on The Defenders whenever he interacted with Mike Colter’s Luke Cage. The two characters, who come from opposite ends of the social and economic spectrums, quickly grew to respect one another after initial clashes, and formed a bond of friendship. Colter and Jones clearly enjoyed playing off each other, and, through interviews, both actors have exhibited an understanding and appreciation of the shared history of their characters, and what that means to comics fans.
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