When Netflix canceled “Marvel’s Iron Fist” — making history as the first-ever official Netflix cancelation of a Marvel show — it might have seemed not a moment too soon for the MCU’s least-liked superhero. With his superpowers and inherited wealth, and with the show’s sloppy storytelling, it was never easy to empathize with Danny Rand (Finn Jones). However, now that Netflix has declared the end of his standalone show that disappointed audiences and critics, Danny may finally have a chance to shine.
After all, the best episode featuring the immortal Iron Fist isn’t an episode of “Marvel’s Iron Fist;” it’s the “Luke Cage” Season 2 episode “The Main Ingredient,” in which Danny strolls into Pop’s Barber Shop to spend some quality time with Luke (Mike Colter) as he contends with a personal crossroads.
In “The Main Ingredient,” Danny isn’t exactly a sidekick; after all, his super-powered punch makes him a powerful force in his own right. The appearance foreshadows the second season of “Iron Fist,” which continued to build on the first season’s most notable truth: The character isn’t quite enough to sustain a series. However, what his revival even more likely is Marvel and Netflix chose to end “Iron Fist” at its most-interesting creative moment.
Season 2 of “Iron Fist” did a lot of work in developing Danny as a character, and at the very end of the season, he revealed the power of “gun-fu” — i.e., the power to shoot magic bullets. Meanwhile, the supporting cast continued to evolve, with Ward (Tom Pelphrey) becoming Danny’s partner in avenging, Misty Knight (Simone Missick) becoming centered in her robot arm’s abilities, and Colleen Wing (Jessica Henwick) embracing her own new powers.
Danny functions best in contrast to those from different circumstances. His bantering on last year’s Netflix miniseries “The Defenders” gave Danny some of his best moments to date, especially once he and Luke Cage developed a rapport that led to them creating team-up strategies like “pattycake.” (To be completist, it’s worth noting that it’s doubtful but not impossible that a second “Defenders” series will ever air, because never say never ever in today’s current landscape.)
This dynamic originated in the comics, where Danny and Luke often worked as a team and starred in a series of “Heroes for Hire” adventures (their respective series referred to these more than once). While “Luke Cage” has yet to be renewed for a third season, making Danny a part of that season would make a lot of sense, given the way that “Luke Cage” Season 2 ended with Luke full-on embracing his dark side and leaning into trying to change the criminal underworld of Harlem from the inside. If any character is primed to help Luke find his way back to the path of the righteous, it’s Danny.
One of the most entertaining aspects of the Defenders universe has been witnessing the ways in which these series blend together. Some aspects have been wonderful (like Rosario Dawson’s multiplicity of appearances) and some have been less than successful (“The Defenders” could have been so much better). But after years of building this narrative, finding all the ways these stories connect is still delightful, nerdy fun; the cancelation of “Iron Fist” is no reason for that to change. In fact, fingers crossed, it might lead to the immortal Iron Fist finally fighting a dragon for his magic powers on screen.