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Why Jessica Henwick Should be Iron Fist in the MCU

January 14, 2024 - Movies

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The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is heating up, and with the returns of Daredevil (Charlie Cox) and Kingpin (Vincent D’Onofrio) to shows streaming on Disney+, many are looking at the remaining Netflix heroes to see who is next in line to make a comeback. Following the release of Echo on Disney+, Marvel has stoked fan excitement by confirming that six of its Netflix shows — Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and The Defenders — are officially canon. Each show has been added to the MCU Timeline on the Disney+ website, leading many to hope characters such as Jessica Jones and Luke Cage might be next to re-emerge.



Reports from last year already suggest the Punisher (Jon Bernthal) is set to make a comeback in Daredevil: Born Again, which leaves many to wonder if the “Immortal” Iron Fist may return to combat street-level crime as well. This may eventually be the case, but let’s be honest. Iron Fist was the lowest-rated of the Netflix Marvel series and arguably the one fans connected with the least. After taking a moment to look at where Danny Rand was left at the end of the Iron Fist series, a minor reboot could re-energize the show, especially if Colleen Wing (Jessica Henwick) took on the role of Iron Fist this time around. Here’s why.

Update January 13, 2024: With the debut of Echo on Disney+ and conformation that the Defenders Saga is now added to the MCU timeline on Disney+, this article has been updated with more reasons why Colleen Wing should return Iron Fist in the MCU and where she could even appear next.


The Problem With Danny Rand

Iron-Fist
Netflix

When we last saw Danny Rand, he had defeated his former companion, Davos (Sacha Dhawan), in a battle to determine the fate of the Iron Fist power. We’ll check back in on the power in a moment, but first, we need to look at what was in store for Danny after this fateful battle. Danny would elect to leave New York behind and go on a global adventure, seeking out the secrets of the Iron Fist’s history alongside his brother, Ward Meachum (Tom Pelphrey). The last scene of Danny would see him in Asia, taking out some thugs with bullets, seemingly empowered by Iron Fist energy.

Back in New York, in order to ensure Davos wouldn’t be the new recipient of the Iron Fist, Danny helped Colleen Wing receive the power instead. After defeating Davos, Colleen kept her promise to use the power to help her community, later being seen stopping bank robbers by infusing her chi into her signature katana. In many ways, this feels like the creators are acknowledging the issues many had with the central premise all along: that Danny Rand should never have been the Iron Fist.

Related: Iron Fist Star Finn Jones Opens Up on Marvel Show’s Shortcomings

Danny Rand debuted as the Iron Fist in 1974 in the pages of Marvel Premiere #15. Much like Shang-Chi, the character was made to cash in on the rise in kung-fu and martial arts films that were becoming profitable during the era, but Marvel quickly put more emphasis on Iron Fist than Shang-Chi, and it is a clear part of that was because he was white. In the comics, Danny Rand’s story features many white savior conventions, including being the one white man in a society of Asian characters who are better at their culture than they are. These were always going to make him a difficult character to adapt, but it became even more problematic within the wider MCU.

By the time Danny Rand arrived in the MCU, the story tropes of the original comics featured in Iron Fist comics and their negative connotations were already a major talking point, particularly as a few months prior, Marvel faced controversy surrounding the casting of the character The Ancient One in Doctor Strange. Iron Fist already felt redundant due to being another billionaire superhero like Tony Stark (and both having the name Iron in their superhero name didn’t help much), but with the cultural appropriation angle of Doctor Strange that those films were largely able to sidestep making the wizards a multicultural unit.

While the creators could have made Danny Rand an Asian-American character in a way to avoid some of the cultural appropriation issues, by the time the series aired, it was clear Danny Rand as a character was flawed. The entire series was about a rich white guy getting back the privileges that he feels he owned, all while speaking about a culture that is not his own as an expert, which felt insulting. Danny Rand was the least interesting part of his own series, meanwhile the most interesting character was Colleen Wing and it was clear many people wanted her to be the Iron Fist instead.

Colleen Wing Is a More Interesting Character

iron-fist-season-2
Netflix

In terms of the story leading us to this point, Colleen Wing was the natural successor in different respects. From the narrative standpoint, Wing is one of the first people to show Danny any form of kindness. While their friendship proved to have a rocky start, they would soon bond over their shared moral code as well as their passion for martial arts. Sharing a relationship through different stages (platonic, romantic, educational, and platonic again), the two would part ways and follow their own paths. This close bond to Danny put Colleen in a position to accept the power, her place in the lineage of the Iron Fist was preceded by her ancestor, Wu Ao-Shi, “The Pirate Queen.”

Due to her history with the villainous organization The Hand, the same one that the Iron Fist is destined to fight, it is also thematically more interesting to have Colleen be the Iron Fist. Having been raised her whole life by the organization only now to become their sworn enemy is a far more interesting dynamic than Danny Rand stumbling upon being the Iron Fist.

It’s no secret the MCU has had narrative moments that have helped launch the feminine heroes to a level equal, if not higher, than their male counterparts. Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) has proven worthy of the name Thor. Riri Williams (Dominique Thorne) has followed in the footsteps of Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.). Shuri (Letitia Wright) has taken the mantle of the Black Panther. And Jen Walters (Tatiana Maslaney) has proven more capable of controlling herself than her cousin when it comes to being a Hulk. That would allow a strong framework for Colleen to become the new Iron Fist, and one legacy character fans would certainly accept with more open arms than the original character.

Jessica Henwick Has Become a Bigger Star

Jessica Henwick The Matrix Ressurection
Village Roadshow Pictures

One major factor to consider is that Marvel Studios certainly would want to cash in on the fact that Collen’s original actor, Jessica Henwick, has become a much bigger name than when she was first cast in the role. When Iron Fist premiered in 2017, hardcore fans likely recognized her from a small role in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Yet since Iron Fist was canceled, Henwick has blown up as one of the most in-demand stars working.

Related: The Royal Hotel Review: A Completely Implausible Thriller

In 2020, she starred in Underwater and Love & Monsters. Then, in 2021, she appeared in the highly anticipated The Matrix Resurrection, playing the character of Bugs. The following year, 2022, saw Henwick star in two high-profile Netflix releases: The Grey Man (from MCU directors The Russo Brothers) and Glass Onion. Recently, she was one of the stars of the critically acclaimed The Royal Hotel, which premiered at the Telluride Film Festival. She is certainly a much bigger name now than she was originally, and a bigger name than Iron Fist star Finn Jones, and would be one Marvel should consider bringing in.

The New Heroes for Hire

misty-knight-luke-cage
Netflix

In the comics, the duo of Luke Cage and Iron Fist were often known as Heroes for Hire, a team that would help save the day for a price. While the duo weren’t heartless in their approach, they often cited that superheroes have bills to pay, too. Even if they worked pro bono, the name caught on and was often used when referring to the pair.

With Danny traveling and Luke having his own concerns, Colleen Wing will have to look elsewhere if she ever needs assistance. And where better to look than her new friend Misty Knight (Simone Missick)? The two have often worked together in supporting the Defenders, but now Misty has some improvements to her prosthetic arm, and Colleen is the new bearer of the Iron Fist. Together, these two could become the new power duo to protect the streets of Manhattan.

As devoted comics fans know, Colleen and Misty appeared as a team in the title Daughters of the Dragon, operating Knightwing Restorations Inc., a private detective agency that specializes in finding missing persons. This setup could provide a procedural element to a rebooted Iron Fist series, helping it find a larger audience this time around.

Where Could Colleen Wing Appear Next?

Henwick_Iron_Fist_2017_IMDb
Netflix

While there is no official word on Colleen Wing or Iron Fist returning, there are plenty of places within the MCU slate for her to appear. With the Netflix series now being made canon, Colleen Wing could show up in Daredevil: Born Again as an ally to Matt Murdock/Daredevil. She could briefly reference Danny Rand, and the series could move on to establishing a dynamic between Daredevil and the new Iron Fist.

As mentioned previously, Colleen Wing and Misty Knight were a team in the comics called The Daughter of Dragons. There were talks about a Daughter of Dragons spin-off series being developed based around Colleen and Misty before Netflix canceled their Marvel series, so this might be a great idea to revisit as audiences would have a new jumping-on point in a Marvel Spotlight-type series. Simone Missick’s schedule is certainly cleared up, as her latest series, All Rise, just concluded a three-season run.

There is also a Shang-Chi sequel, as that film has been confirmed. It would not only round out the supporting cast of that film but allow prominent Asian heroes to share the screen, possibly setting up the Agents of Atlas from the comics, which recently was an all-Asian and Asian-American team of superheroes. As the characters of Iron Fist and Shang-Chi have a past history in the comics, bringing that into the films but with a new version of the Iron Fist certainly is a fresh spin on the concept. Henwick has already expressed interest in appearing in Shang-Chi 2.

One interesting place the MCU could take Colleen is bringing her into Blade. Colleen Wing’s Iron Fist power is channeled through her katana. With rumors that The Black Knight’s Ebony Blade from Eternals will play a factor in Blade, the film could not only be a movie based around the popular vampire hunter but one that teams up with various sword-based characters.

Colleen Wing could appear in many corners of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as the new Iron Fist. She is a great character that could carry her own story or be added to plenty of other stories in the MCU as both a way to expand the world and develop a new spin on a classic character. Hopefully, she will make a return soon.

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