How the axing of Iron Fist will shape the future of Netflix's Marvel universe

Late last week, Marvel released a statement confirming that it would be dropping the axe on Iron Fist – the first of its television collaborations with Netflix to bite the dust, and, let’s be honest, always the show most at risk of meeting that fate.

While the debut seasons of Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage all earned receptions ranging from the rapturous to the broadly positive, the first year of Iron Fist was acknowledged by most as the first dud to come out of the Netflix / Marvel deal.

The second season, which dropped on September 7, was generally considered an improvement, with Raven Metzner installed as showrunner. (Scott Buck, who oversaw the first season, went on to launch Marvel’s Inhumans: a show less divisive than Iron Fist, in that it earned a universal panning.)

But it appears Metzner’s improvements weren’t enough to salvage Iron Fist‘s reputation, with cancellation arriving just over a month after season two’s launch – clearly the returning audience just wasn’t there after the missteps of the early episodes.

With the news of the show’s axing, though, came a glimmer of hope. In almost all other scenarios, Iron Fist‘s cancellation would be the end of the story, with any plot points unresolved by the end of season two left hanging indefinitely.

But this is the MCU, where everything’s connected.

So it was that, while his solo series may be no more, EW announced that Finn Jones will continue to appear in the surviving Marvel / Netflix shows. (The same, presumably, applies to other Iron Fist characters, though that hasn’t been 100% confirmed.)

That’s especially good news given that the second season of Iron Fist ended in such a way as to clearly set up a possible third.

Danny Rand (Jones) lost the power of the Iron Fist, and later rejected the opportunity to reclaim it, deciding that he’d been gifted his abilities before he was ready. In his place, Colleen Wing (Jessica Henwick) assumed the mantle and was last seen tackling two criminals with her own iron fist, and her katana – both of which which glowed a brilliant white.

Danny, though, wasn’t quite as powerless as it first appeared. Somehow – inexplicably – he was seen being able to focus his chi into two handguns in the season’s very final scene. He’s rootin’-tootin’ Danny Rand!

We left Danny and his step-brother Ward (Tom Pelphrey) in Japan, the pair having left New York to find Orson Randall – the man from whom Davos (Sacha Dhawan) acquired a corpse of a former Iron Fist, which he’d used to steal Danny’s powers as part of a convoluted ritual. (It’s also implied that Danny’s new pistols previously belonged to Randall.)

Now, several possibilities present themselves for how these plot lines might be resolved outside of Iron Fist. Finn Jones has already been established as a recurring player on Luke Cage, so it’s probable that Danny will reappear on that series. That said, the two show’s disparate tones – one fantastical, the other far more grounded – means Luke Cage is unlikely to spend a huge chunk of its own third season resolving Iron Fist‘s wild cliffhangers.

Having Danny pop up in Harlem, offering hurried explanations by way of a throwaway line or two, would be far from ideal. We’d want more than a cameo from Colleen, too. More agreeable, on a number of levels, would be a Daughters of the Dragon series rising from the ashes of Iron Fist.

In the original Marvel comics, Colleen and Misty Knight (Simone Missick, already a recurring player on Iron Fist) teamed up to form a crime-fighting duo, even establishing their own detective agency in Knightwing Restorations Ltd. (This development was actually foreshadowed in Iron Fist‘s season two finale, as Colleen and Misty mull over a partnership, with the latter noting that “KnightWing has a ring to it”.)

Jeph Loeb, head of Marvel TV, has acknowledged the high demand for a Daughters of the Dragon spin-off, so why not give the people what they want and provide a suitable outlet to wrap up what’s left of Iron Fist‘s story in one fell swoop?

Surely, a DotD series, with Finn Jones in a supporting or guest role, could explore both Colleen and Danny’s new abilities, as well as the mystery of Orson Randall, more effectively than Luke Cage (or, for the matter, any other of the Netflix / Marvel shows)?

The only other effective solution would be a second season of The Defenders. That show’s first season also had a more mystical slant: again dealing in fantasy and magic, it essentially functioned as Iron Fist season 1.5. But with Loeb pouring cold water on the idea of a direct Defenders follow-up, Daughters of the Dragon again seems the most viable option.

Now, unless you’re particularly fixated on the fate of Ward’s baby momma, the only other major thread left hanging in the wake of Iron Fist‘s axing is what’s to come next for Mary Walker (Alice Eve).

Suffering from multiple personality disorder, the submissive ‘Mary’ was befriended by Danny early in Iron Fist‘s second run, but it wasn’t long before her ruthless ‘Walker’ persona took hold, with this identity hired as a mercenary by Joy Meachum (Jessica Stroup) to capture our hero.

A third guise, the uber-violent ‘Bloody Mary’, was also contained within the character’s fractured psyche, a result of her enduring months of torture and sexual abuse after being captured by armed forces in Sokovia.

Eventually allying with Danny – sort of – and turning against Davos, ‘Walker’ escaped capture and paid Joy another visit in Iron Fist‘s last ever episode ‘A Duel of Iron’. “I could use your influence, your connections… your reach,” ‘Walker’ told her former employer. “It’s not over between us, Joy.”

The easy out here is that Mary originated in Marvel’s Daredevil comics, so could make the leap to that Netflix series with minimal fuss, perhaps with a cameo from Danny (and even Joy?) to help bridge the crossover.

The dark, psychological nature of her story would totally chime with Daredevil’s grittier tone, and while DD showrunner Erik Oleson has ruled out any crossovers in that show’s third season, that’s not to say that Mary couldn’t feature in a potential fourth.

Iron Fist may be done. But if Marvel and Netflix play this smart, the journeys of its most vital characters could be only just beginning.

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