Danny Rand is one of Marvel’s most underrated superheroes, even though, in the modern age, he was elevated from a street-level vigilante to an Avenger. It came as no surprise, then, when Netflix added his story as “Iron Fist” to their roster of television shows, given his crimefighting status on the ground in New York, as well as the fact that Luke Cage is his best friend in the books.
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Danny returns to his city and family wealth after training in the mystical city of K’un-L’un, only to realize that his powers and skill as an expert martial artist are all part of a higher calling to fight for justice. With Netflix stitching him into threads that ran throughout its superhero content, fans are eager to see his journey, which will lead into “The Defenders.” CBR takes a look at 15 things we want in Danny’s debut season.
SPOILER WARNING: Major spoilers ahead for Marvel’s Netflix shows and Iron Fist comics
Netflix’s Marvel setting has always hinted at the bigger picture of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The Chitauri invasion appeared in “Daredevil” and as weaponry in “Luke Cage,” but the worlds have never really crossed directly. “Captain America: Civil War” offers a big opportunity to tie in the Sokovia Accords, which require heroes to register with the government. If S.H.I.E.L.D. decides to crack down at the A-list level, why not take it to the streets to prevent the next Scarlet Witch or Quicksilver from rising up?
Having S.H.I.E.L.D., as watchdogs, come down on Iron Fist, and the soon-to-be Defenders, could act as a mini-Civil War and also, pit Danny against other enemies apart from those who want him dead. We’ve seen Daredevil and Luke hunted by the law, so this would step things up and possibly force him to stay as underground as can be. After all, in the “Civil War” comic event, Danny did pull decoy duty as Daredevil in Team Cap. This hunted dynamic could give “Iron Fist” a grander scope than first anticipated.
14. DAREDEVIL’S MYSTICAL POSSE
The first season of “Daredevil” was filled with a lot of mysteries revolving around the sinister organization known as The Hand. The ninja group was embroiled in shady business practices, drug trafficking, as well as some dark activities, such as the Black Sky project to bring forth the ultimate warrior. This also dovetailed into season two, with Elektra’s death and their intent to resurrect her. At the core of this was Stick, who was shown to be assembling warriors to battle their machinations, including Daredevil.
We saw Stick tease a new warrior, Stone, in season one, but he was inexplicably absent in the second season, which has fans hoping that once “Iron Fist” expands on the mystical order of things, we could see these figures pop up again. Danny sounds like someone Stick should be recruiting, especially after Daredevil showed no intentions of being his pawn, and this would be a great opportunity to test see if sticks and stones could break Iron Fist’s bones. The Hand could also be taking note of Danny’s abilities as he may well be another Elektra-like figure to exploit.
13. THAT COSTUME
We saw “Daredevil” don his early black garb before transitioning into his iconic red costume, while Luke sported his Power Man kit (yellow tee and silver tiara) briefly in his origins episode. While Iron Fist’s yellow mask and green onesie may not be easy on the eyes, we’d at least love to see it as more than just a tease or easter egg, as the recent trailer hinted.
It’s likely that his dragon chest-tattoo will be his main symbol — and perhaps his clenched fist — but we’d still like to see him wearing this classic costume to start off his crimefighting career. It’d be a huge nod to the books and fans who followed him for decades. While Iron Fist will more than likely be updated for contemporary audiences, Netflix shouldn’t be afraid to “go green” and keep it old-school. “Arrow” managed to pull off the green, after all, and having Danny sport this heroic look would surely be received with open arms by comic purists.
12. HEROES FOR HIRE
“Iron Fist” is undoubtedly a precursor to “The Defenders,” fighting off what started in Hell’s Kitchen with “Daredevil,” but we can’t forget the street-team called the “Heroes for Hire.” We saw seeds sewn in “Luke Cage,” when the idea of taking money for protecting Harlem City was thrown out the window by Luke. Oddly enough, many thought this particular team would be the first one to be given the Netflix treatment and not the Defenders, because of how much the books were grounded in fighting street-level crime.
That said, both teams share common members, so it’d be awesome if we got to see a pay-for-justice system, which could well end up being what Colleen Wing’s martial arts classes are used for. Punisher, Elektra and Misty Knight were among the many who joined up with H4H eventually, so while there’s overlap, you never know if this is what will eventually snowball into the Defenders. H4H could be the idea or philosophy that becomes something bigger, a symbol for good peopled by heroes who choose to proactively defend than reactively avenge.
11. DAUGHTERS OF THE DRAGON
“Jessica Jones” brought the woman power to Netflix’s landscape and it was continued by the anchoring character of all these shows in Rosario Dawson’s Claire Temple. Fangirls and boys are already waiting with bated breath to see Iron Fist team up with fellow martial arts practitioner, Colleen Wing. However, she and “Luke Cage’s” Misty Knight could have a bigger role in the future as the the Daughters of the Dragon.
In the books, they teamed up in 1977 to face a formidable Iron Fist foe called Steel Serpent, who blessed them with this title after underestimating them in battle. Used mostly in supporting roles thereafter, they made a few appearances in the ’90s in stories by former “Power Man and Iron Fist” scribe, Mary Jo Duffy, before appearing again in the 2000s. What makes them such an intriguing pairing is that they are both badass martial artists who are more than capable of handling themselves in a scrap. Their relationships to Danny and Luke — be they romantic or purely professional — will also make for some damn good TV.
10. LESS BOARDROOM DRAMA
We’ve seen enough boardroom drama, corporate takeovers and industry squabbles when it comes to rich superheroes who are playboys and philanthropists by day, and protectors by night. This trope has been beaten to death with Batman and Iron Man across all mediums, and honestly, fans don’t need to see any more scheming on the business end of things. Look, we came here for brawls and heroes beating down villains (and sometimes each other).
In fact, quite a lot of this was also shown on “Arrow” and it took away from the comic spectacle we signed up for. Sure, when the time comes, Iron Fist will have to take a back seat as Danny has to come back from the dead, so to speak, and take back the company that he lost when he went missing as a youth with his family. If the business side of things ends up being a secondary subplot, it’ll work in our favor, as the threats rising from the Hand to Madame Gao, are growing exponentially for Iron Fist.
9. MORE FIGHTS
The trailer showed us that we’ll be getting the signature corridor fight that these Netflix series usually immerse our heroes in. “Jessica Jones” and “Luke Cage” were more about strength and brawls than technique and execution, so this is where “Iron Fist” can up the ante on the fight sequences of the Netflix universe. The most memorable among these, of course, belong thus far to Daredevil, stands alongside Elektra and Stick as the best martial artists to date. Of course, Danny has trained in the purest form of martial arts and will definitely kick ass on a whole new level.
Throw in Colleen, who’s just about as proficient in this art of war, and you’ve got two big reasons why this series could differentiate itself with more style, elegance and grace with respect to action. “Daredevil’s” second season didn’t really kick things up a notch on its predecessor, so “Iron Fist” has the room to maneuver and raise the bar, with Madame Gao also teased as an epic throwdown. If they throw in the Steel Serpent, we’ve got the ingredients for one hell of a ride.
8. MADAME GAO
Madame Gao, a fan favorite from “Daredevil,” was part of the alliance with Wilson Fisk, peddling drugs in NYC. However, she anticipated his downward spiral, apparently washing her hands of him. This still didn’t stop Daredevil from confronting her in season one, only for him to be dispatched and left coughing up blood thanks to a well-placed fist! She’d also end up manipulating him and the Punisher to stop a rival called the Blacksmith later on to show how ruthless she was.
Speculation’s rife that her appearance in “Iron Fist,” as well as her use of the Steel Serpent’s logo in her heroin trade, could reveal that she’s one of Iron Fist’s biggest enemies, called the Crane Mother. She was the ruler of a city similar to K’un-L’un, called K’un-Zi, and saw her immortal weapon or champion (Davos, the aforementioned Serpent) beaten by a previous Iron Fist, Orson Randall. Since then, she’s harbored deep hatred for the heroic mantle and could be set to unleash her full power against the new and unsuspecting Iron Fist.
7. SHOU-LAO: THE DRAGON
Shou-Lao was an immortal dragon who became the source of the power of K’un-Lun. However, he lost control and went on a rampage, attacking the city’s ruler, Lord Tuan. His heart was cut out by a citizen, Quan-St’ar, to stem the threat, but Tuan exiled Quan for this action. The leader then revived the dragon by melting its heart and securing it in a holy cavern, which would thus become key in the passing of the Iron Fist mantle.
In this rite of passage, one would have to defeat the dragon in a final test and when Danny triumphed in the comics, Shou-Lao’s dragon-shaped scar was burnt onto his chest. As part of the ritual, he plunged his hands into the receptacle holding the dragon’s immortal heart, charging him with the power of the Iron Fist. Epic, right? We know it’s a Netflix budget, but if “Game of Thrones” can give us dragons, then why not? This is a huge part of the Iron Fist mythos and would magnify how otherworldly the character is, adding to the mysticism that “Doctor Strange” kickstarted.
6. SEVEN CITIES OF HEAVEN
The Seven Capital Cities of Heaven are hidden cities across the world. Every 88 years, they merge to form the Heart of Heaven, to hold the Tournament of the Heavenly Cities. Every city tries to win to exist on Earth’s plane and sends their best warrior, each a member of the Immortal Weapons. K’un-Lun’s champion is Iron Fist while K’un-Zi’s darkness is dictated by the Crane Mother. Tiger Island, on the other hand, is a tropical, misogynistic paradise where women cater wholeheartedly to their male warriors.
Peng Lai, a peaceful island of pig farmers, is protected as of late by Fat Cobra, while The Kingdom of Spiders in Nepal is protected by the Bride of Nine Spiders. Z’Gambo is in the jungles of Africa and protected by the Prince of Orphans, who eventually became a Secret Avenger. Under-City is for wanderers, while the even more mysterious Eighth City was found to be a hellish realm, touted as a potential prison for evils of the world. These cities need to be shown in Danny’s training and the origins of K’un-L’un to educate audiences as to how supernatural the Iron Fist lore really is.
5. THE ASSASSIN
Zhou Cheng is an assassin who’s been hunting Iron Fists for over 75 years, aiming to kill them at age 33, so that he could find Shou-Lao’s unhatched egg to feed to his demon master, C’hi-Lin. Zhou was able to sense the chi of Shou-Lao, which made him one of Danny’s deadliest opponents. He was eventually killed with the aid of other Immortal Weapons and also left behind key information on the fabled Eighth City.
Zhou infiltrated Rand Industries as part of his ruse to cripple Danny, which could easily find its way to television, given that Danny seemingly lost his family’s company. This kind of villain would be a well-kept secret if they go this route, maybe even partnering with Madame Gao due to their common enemy; but one thing’s for sure, and that’s that such a vendetta like this would be a terrible thing to waste. This assassin is tied to way too much of Iron Fist’s story to ignore, and could be the ideal opponent for an unaware Danny.
4. IRON FISTS
If the writers truly delve into the legend of Iron Fist, they need to show the pantheon of the past standard-bearers. A great place to start would be Orson Randall. As a past Iron Fist, he ended up fleeing K’un-L’un with integral information on the city and its denizens, and was also hunted by the Steel Serpent. He didn’t seem capable of dealing with the pressures in the end and eventually passed his powers to Danny, making up for mentoring Danny’s father, Wendell.
Wendell would go on to train in K’un-L’un and walk away from fighting Shou Lao at the final hurdle, aiming for a normal life. This trifecta of men would also tie into Danny’s family crashing in Tibet later on, putting him on the road to his destiny. Looking into the past and seeing the aspiring warriors trained by Lei-Kung, the Thunderer, would add so much comic value and loyalty to the story, as it would show that not everyone’s made for this mantle. It would also show just how big a responsibility Iron Fist turns out to be. Finally, it would build Danny up as one who really deserves the mantle.
3. NO WHITE SAVIOR
We’ve seen this white savior syndrome play out so many times, especially in comics. A lot of movies exist where the white hero goes out to brave, new worlds, adopts a culture and its teachings, only to subvert said culture and come back as unbeatable. Been there, done that. Danny’s story here bears a stark resemblance to “Doctor Strange,” which ironically got heat for whitewashing the Ancient One’s Asian lineage. So please, let’s stay off this path.
Fans don’t need to see Danny become Tom Cruise in “The Last Samurai,” wherein he transcends everything and everyone in K’un-L’un. Make him powerful and leave it be, but don’t let him emerge as the be-all-and-end-all of things. After all, that’s why he has Lei-Kung as a teacher, right? As much as we want Iron Fist to be played up as a hero, it’s in our best interest to keep him flawed, vulnerable and ultimately, human. The show’s already got a degree of diversity to it, so let’s not ruin things by being overly patronizing with Danny as the messiah or a warrior of prophecy.
2. NEW HEROES
Eventually, if “Heroes for Hire” comes around, you can’t have it without the Master of Kung Fu. Shang Chi is a character that’s begging to be introduced, given that the martial arts factor is going to skyrocket at the street level once “Iron Fist” gets out there. His relationship with Danny and Luke is another reason why Netflix could expand their horizons with him, as a strong Asian lead is also desperately needed to add some diversity to Marvel’s cinematic and television stories.
Moon Knight is another one who fits this ground-level grit. With Marc Spector, there’s so much potential in his multiple personalities, his PTSD, and overall, his violent nature. Not to mention there’s that supernatural link to the Egyptian Moon God, Khonshu, which made him a cult-favorite that many argue is a cross between Batman and Punisher. Other characters such as White Tiger and Paladin could also be given time in the spotlight here, similar to how Nuke was surprisingly factored into “Jessica Jones,” with spinoffs or appearances in other shows kept as strong possibilities.
1. NOT ARROW OR BATMAN
Danny’s story can mostly be aligned to “Batman Begins,” when Bruce trained with the League of Shadows and returned. “Arrow” saw Oliver Queen do the same when he came back from his secretive island of training. Not only did they triumphantly return to their cities and family inheritance, but they came back bigger, better, stronger and faster. It’s not just about coming back, but about that trope of training somewhere mystical and returning almost superpowered.
We already mentioned to scrub the corporate drama to avoid repetition, but when it comes to the training and heroic return, Netflix needs to differentiate Danny from Bruce Wayne and Oliver. They also need to steer away from the arrogant facade the hero puts on in the day before slipping into fighting crime at night. A bold move would be to just stick to his nightly antics and minimize the business vibe of Danny, to separate him from that playboy persona so many heroes display. Case in point: Tony Stark. Iron Fist represents a true chance to punch free of these stereotypical and repetitive shackles, focusing on inner-strength, not toys and gadgets.
Thoughts on our picks? Let us know in the comments what you’re looking forward to!
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