Should “Luke Cage” Season 2 Have Featured More Iron Fist?

Matthew Loffhagen
(Photo: Marvel/Netflix)

I can completely understand why Marvel didn’t want to include more Iron Fist in “Luke Cage” season two.

After all, nobody likes Iron Fist. Danny Rand is possibly the most hated superhero in the entirety of Marvel’s live-action properties. He’s less popular than characters like Trevor Slattery, and even Star Lord (depending on your opinion of “Infinity War”).

Nevertheless, while the Iron Fist of the MCU (or at least the Marvel Television Universe) is widely considered to be a whiny idiot, the character is an integral part of Luke Cage’s growth in the comics.

Very early in their respective comic book careers, Luke and Danny team up to form the Heroes for Hire, and for years, their only regular comic books involved teaming up together as a star duo.

Without delving too far into spoilers, the classic Hero for Hire element of Luke’s backstory is explored in season two. What’s given less focus is his friendship with Danny Rand.

Sure, Danny shows up, but it’s a fleeting visit that takes up only one episode of a busy season. Beyond this, he’s simply hinted at a few times in passing, without having much a genuine presence in the show.

This is a shame, especially considering that Marvel is (inexplicably) going ahead with plans for “Iron Fist” season two.

The Iron Fist Conundrum

Personally I think they should kill off Danny and make Colleen Wing the MCU’s new Iron Fist. As this doesn’t seem to be on the cards, it really would be helpful if we got to see Danny in a more positive light outside his own show.

“Luke Cage” season two would have been the perfect opportunity to ease audiences into the idea of a more competent Danny. He could have shown up as a recurring character, for a few minutes an episode, just to strengthen the idea that his Defender cohorts actually like him.

It’s not impossible to save Danny. Good writing and a few well-built fight scenes would go a long way to making him more enjoyable.

This was achieved with Fitz in “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”, another of Marvel’s TV shows.

Initially, Fitz lacks a lot of personality. He’s a fairly one-dimensional cookie-cutter nerd character without any solid defining attributes to make him stand out.

Then, at the end of season one, he suffers a personal injury which completely changes his perspective. Over the course of season two, he evolves into a more complex, interesting character. By the most recent season five, he’s one of the more dynamic and engaging members of the team.

(Of course then the character gets a little too dynamic in later seasons, but that’s beside the point.)

I believe that something similar could be achieved with Danny Rand. But only if we get to see him.

The Power of Teamwork

What we get in season two of “Luke Cage” is a good step in the right direction. I feel like the best development for Danny can come from a role as a supporting character in small moments as part of another hero’s bigger story.

Heck, this has always been where Iron Fist has worked best in the comics, hence his teamwork with Luke Cage for so many years.

If the character is constantly kept hidden, showing up only in his own TV show (that nobody actually wants to watch), we’ll never get a sense of his relevance to the wider MCU.

People do actually care about Luke Cage. This was the perfect opportunity to make Danny Rand more likable, and Marvel TV was too scared of backlash to take advantage of it in any meaningful way.

I love the Heroes for Hire. These characters are some of my favorites from Marvel canon. It’s incredibly frustrating seeing Iron Fist misused in the MCU.

Maybe one day I’ll get to see a live-action version of the character that’s actually enjoyable to watch. For the moment, though, this possibility seems a very distant dream.