So long, Danny Rand. We hardly knew ye. Only 18 months on from Iron Fist season 1 (opens in new tab), and Netflix has pulled the plug on the show altogether, despite Marvel’s second season showing strong signs of improvement earlier this year. This is Netflix we’re talking about, too. The streaming service doesn’t rely on network ratings to keep itself afloat, and thus rarely cancels anything unless a show’s undisclosed viewing traffic and critical reception sinks to catastrophic lows. So, yeah, Iron Fist was a real stinker, no matter how you look at it.
What’s more, with weaker and less essential second seasons of both Jessica Jones and Luke Cage having released this year, and Disney’s impending streaming service threatening to put an end to the Netflix-verse as we know it, Iron Fist’s cancellation could be seen as the beginning of the end for this entire chapter of street level superheroics. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
In a joint statement with Marvel (opens in new tab) announcing the cancellation, the company teasingly explained that “while the series on Netflix has ended, the immortal Iron Fist will live on.” This, alongside the opportunities left open by the end of Iron Fist season 2 (opens in new tab), creates a space for Danny Rand’s return. Only this time, it won’t be his show.
Let’s face it; the worst thing about Iron Fist was always its main character. Poorly written, badly choreographed, and woefully miscast with Finn Jones in the leading role (for more reasons than the glaringly obvious), Danny Rand soaked up the energy of every scene he was in.
But the characters around him weren’t nearly as grating. Season 2’s focus on Colleen Wing and Misty Knight, in particular, was the show at its most arresting, with both actors Jessica Henwick and Simone Missick demonstrating strong rapport and serious fighting chops as a duo of wisecracking crimefighters.
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There’s a reason Netflix keeps teaming them together, too, with a canonical basis for the pairing in Marvel’s source material. Daughters of the Dragon has been an on-off Marvel comic book team-up between Misty and Colleen since the 1970s, in which the duo ran a detective agency together known as Knightwing Restorations Inc.
Unfortunately, more often than not, both Misty and Colleen were forced to orbit Iron Fist and Luke Cage as mere supporting characters, but Netflix now has an opportunity to right that wrong, at least when it comes to their television counterparts. Indeed, a Daughters of the Dragon spin-off show isn’t just a way of giving these two characters their long awaited due, but also to conveniently maintain a presence for Danny Rand in the Marvel Universe now that a third season is off the table.
I’m going into spoilers for the Iron Fist season 2 ending (opens in new tab) here (not that it matters much anymore), but the manner in which that show finishes certainly leaves the door open for a Daughters of the Dragon series. Long story short, Colleen voluntarily takes up the mantle of the Iron Fist, chi powers and all, becoming Manhattan’s latest incarnation of the Iron Fist, able to channel her energy through that iconic katana.
It’s also suggested that Colleen is in fact a descendant of one of the most legendary Iron Fists of all time, Wu Ao-Shi, who appears to be her mother, which is a big deal if you’re familiar with that character from the comics. It essentially means that Colleen is as much a superhero as Danny now, while Misty’s new mechanical arm following the events of The Defenders (opens in new tab) has similarly made her twice the badass she already was. If that doesn’t sound like the perfect setup for a superhero flavoured take on the buddy cop genre, then I don’t know what does.
As for the nature of Daughters of the Dragon’s story, the limited material from the comics gives Marvel and Netflix a healthy degree of carte blanche. It could start with Colleen assisting Misty in bringing down a recently corrupted Luke Cage, who’s now on a power trip as the latest crime king of Harlem, as a precursor to the establishment of their detective agency. Alternatively, Netflix could take inspiration from the Heroes for Hire run of Marvel comic books; a lighthearted, episodic set of stories in which Rand and Cage run a professional superhero service.
That kind of upbeat tone and serialised structure could be exactly what Marvel’s Netflix Universe needs right now, following season after season of dark, gestating trials by fire for its current pantheon of heroes. Henwick and Missick’s scenes together have already crackled with banter and persiflage, so a story that caters to this jocularity is a no brainer.
Meanwhile, Danny himself would only need to show up intermittently, when the story demands it. He and Colleen are already on a relationship hiatus by the end of season 2, with the former Iron Fist on a gap year of sorts as he tries to uncover the history behind the Kun-Lun icon. As a result, it makes sense to keep him distant from a Daughters of the Dragon story until the right opportunity for a cameo makes itself apparent. Indeed, as we’ve seen from his Luke Cage season 2 (opens in new tab) appearance, Danny Rand is a character best enjoyed in short bursts.
With Daredevil season 3 just released, and follow ups for both The Punisher (opens in new tab) and Jessica Jones (opens in new tab) already in production, Daughters of the Dragon could be a prime way to meld the worlds of Luke Cage and Iron Fist closer together, especially now that it looks like another season of The Defenders won’t be happening.
There’s no denying that excitement about Marvel’s TV offshoot has waned over the last half decade, but Daughters of the Dragon has the potential to recapture our attention, not to mention finally shining the spotlight on two characters who have long been deserving of it. If Iron Fist has to die, at least give the people around him another shot at redemption.
For more of the best television to watch out for this year, check out our breakdown of the hottest new TV shows (opens in new tab) on the horizon.