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When the final curtain falls, Marvel’s Iron Fist might leave some viewers scratching their heads. While it certainly has all the markings of a Marvel action project from Netflix (deeper metaphors for mental illness and trauma, character crossovers, stellar supporting cast, and some excellent action sequences), on its surface the series appears to have fewer answers than questions. Still, Iron Fist has swung some very big doors, even gates one might say, open for what’s next in this summer’s Marvel’s The Defenders.
Note: The following contains spoilers for Seasons 1 and 2 of Daredevil, and Season 1 of Marvel’s Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist.
Iron Fist centers around Danny Rand (Finn Jones), the sole heir to Rand Enterprises who has seemingly returned from the dead after 15 years. You might recall the company as the one whose chemical truck unintentionally blinded a young Matt Murdock way back in season 1 of Daredevil. Having survived a plane crash which took his parents, Rand was saved by monks of the Order of the Crane Mother and taken to K’un-Lun, one of the capital cities of Heaven. That time away from The Big Apple saw Danny become a “living weapon” known as the Iron Fist before fleeing back to discover the cause of his parents death. There, he reunites with childhood friends Joy (Jessica Stroup) and Ward Meachum (Tom Pelphrey), and learns a dark secret Ward has kept hidden for years.
The existence of K’un-Lun, foreshadowed by Madame Gao in Daredevil episode 1-12 (The Ones We Leave Behind), and the as of now unknown fate of the holy city opens The Defenders up to mystical forces that either transcend or correspond directly to looming big bad The Hand and Black Sky. Stick (Scott Glenn) and Lei Kung (Hoon Lee) and their orders have proven themselves incapable of taking down the worldwide syndicate, so it may fall to the Defenders to eradicate The Hand and its many faces.
As for Madame Gao (Wai Ching Ho), the mysterious drug kingpin plays a prominent role in fleshing out the different aspects of The Hand. Her faction, focused on black market drugs and financial prosperity, might actually be the least of The Defenders concern. The introduction of Ramon Rodriguez’s character Bakuto, and his plan for a new world order, can be seen to correspond with that of Daredevil’s Nobu (Peter Shinkoda) and the revival of the dead is now both confirmed and fleshed out. Don’t be surprised if Rodriguez comes back around to play a role in The Defenders.
Another character making a return is Carrie-Anne Moss as Jeri Hogarth, who has a strong history with Rand. Her legal expertise proves very useful in the first half of the season’s occasional slow going, and her sense of humor is a breath of fresh air. She also likely recommended Jessica Jones to Joy Meachum, who was referenced in a throwaway line as a private investigator who was “worth every penny… when she was sober.” Hogarth, or Meachum, could play a role in bringing Jones into contact with Danny.
Naturally, Rosario Dawson’s Claire Temple appears as an important piece of the puzzle. Beginning as a martial arts student of series standout Colleen Wing (Jessica Henwick), Dawson transcends her typical role of being a romantic interest and continues to develop as a strong connecting character. She also lets the audience know that Luke Cage (Mike Colter) is currently “unavailable”, a likely nod to his current incarceration. While fans hoped for at least a brief guest appearance by Colter, Krysten Ritter (Jessica Jones), or one of the Nelson and Murdock employees, they will have to wait until this summer. Until then, Iron Fist’s veiled references to an “Incredible Green Guy” and the ever present Incident will have to do.
While it is certainly not Netflix’s strongest Marvel outing, Iron Fist sets up viewers for what is to come. Dr. Strange may have introduced the MCU to the magical side of the universe, but Iron Fist gives viewers a much deeper look into the overlap between the “real world” and mystical realm. If Finn Jones is right and Defenders opens directly where Iron Fist left off, then prepare for the summer series to hit the ground running.
Iron Fist is now streaming on Netflix. Stay tuned with mxdwn Television for more information regarding the future of Netflix’s Marvel titles, Iron Fist, and the upcoming The Defenders set to release in September of this year.