Following the immense success brought by Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage, Marvel and Netflix hit a speed bump with 2017's Iron Fist. To put it lightly, nothing seemed to have gone well for the solo project. After a heavy dose of controversy surrounding Finn Jones's casting as the titular character (and him not doing himself any favors while promoting it), the show was then panned by both critics and fans upon release.
Four months later, however, The Defenders came around, and it was a solid response to the problems fans had with #DannyRand's solo series. Danny's teammates were constantly making fun of his mystical origins, he was much more focused, and his fighting techniques were greatly improved.
Fans believed these improved elements were a sign of #Netflix and #Marvel listening to their fandom. But as it turns out, that wasn't the case. Defenders showrunner Marco Ramirez recently sat down for an interview with Entertainment Weekly to discuss the explosive Season 1 finale.
During their chat, he explained that the Danny Rand we met this time around wasn't a response to the criticism, because the show was almost done filming when Iron Fist Season 1 premiered:
"We were shooting the finale of 'The Defenders' when 'Iron Fist' Season 1 was premiering, so by the nature of it, we couldn’t have reacted to it."
Instead, Danny's changes were the result of natural character growth. His journey as a naive young man who didn't know how the world worked came to an end in the Season 1 finale of #IronFist. Yes, he was still quite stubborn at the start of the The Defenders (and downright hotheaded at times), but seeing the full scope of the Hand and what could happen if he didn't own up to his role as the Immortal Iron Fist made him evolve.
What About Those Jokes?
Ok, that was the character growth, but what about the constant stream of jokes that came out of Jessica Jones' and #LukeCage's mouths at the expense of Danny's powers and beliefs? Well, those just came out organically thanks to the Defenders' team dynamic, as Ramirez revealed:
"Any interaction they have with Danny is all based on just the dynamics we wanted to build [...] Matt and Luke and Jessica had already been introduced, and for comic-book shows, they’re all so grounded and so gritty, but like if a guy walks in to these rooms with a glowing fist saying, 'My chi is expanding,' all of them will say 'I don't buy it.' That’s the natural thing for them to do."
There's no denying that the Defenders' reaction to the concept of his mystical background was perfectly handled. #JessicaJones is a hard-drinking detective who lives in, well, reality, at least as realistic as a world where superpowered people and villains exist can be. It makes sense that she would frown at the possibility of a power-granting mystical dragon whose death granted Danny the title of protector of a magical city. Let's face it, that sounds ridiculous without context—hell, it even sounds ridiculous with context when it's Finn Jones saying it.
The Defenders' overall treatment of Iron Fist was just what the hero needed. His intricate background was grounded even further by his teammates' comments and disbelief, and he learned a valuable lesson in what it means to be a true hero. I suspect that, more than anything, seeing Matt Murdock's sacrifice for the city he loved will have a profound impact on Danny moving forward; it's hard to continue to act like a hotheaded kid when you see an actual man lay down his life to protect others. As a big fan of the character and Finn Jones' portrayal, I can't wait to see where he'll be able to go in his solo second season after this evolution.
The Defenders is currently streaming on Netflix.
What do you think about the evolution Iron Fist went through in The Defenders? Was it an improvement on Danny's first solo outing? Let me know in the comments!