What to Know for 'The Defenders' If You Skip 'Iron Fist'

The Defenders are forming, so here's a quick rundown of 'Iron Fist' for the busy among us.


Marvel’s Iron Fist was bum TV. Hardcore fans might love it, but perhaps they’re bingeing out of obligation to The Defenders, which will co-star characters people already like. But Iron Fist, a fundamentally flawed series with an uncompelling plot that moves at a snail’s pace, is a chore to watch for 13 episodes. Bless you if you try, but it’s also not unreasonable if you find yourself wanting to tap out.

For those unwilling to sacrifice 13 hours to Danny Rand acting like every grad student who has ever spent a semester abroad in Thailand, here’s a cheater’s guide to Iron Fist so you can still enjoy The Defenders when it finally (mercifully) drops on Netflix.

First, the Mandatory Intro

The Iron Fist is a ceremonial title assigned to those who protect the city of K’un-Lun, which only appears on Earth every 15 years or so. Those seeking to become the Iron Fist have to fight a motherfucking DRAGON named Shou-Lao the Undying. Somehow, the TV show decided not to show this part.

Danny Rand (Finn Jones) is the son to a wealthy billionaire industrialist. 15 years ago, his family’s plane crashed over the Himalayas, where Danny was found barely alive by monks from K’un-Lun. They take him in to K’un-Lun and make him a warrior, to which he succeeds and fights Shou-Lao and becomes Iron Fist. Out of the blue, Danny returns home to Earth, and that’s where the TV series begins.

Danny Rand (Finn Jones) in Marvel's 'Iron Fist.'


The Iron Fist Can Heal People with … His Fist

Because the Iron Fist is a master of harnessing his chi, or something, the Iron Fist can heal wounds provided he has enough chi. Expect him to heal a wound or two for Daredevil in The Defenders.

Colleen Wing Is the Real Hero Here

Colleen Wing, played masterfully by Jessica Henwick, stole Iron Fist in practically every scene she appeared. Although the love interest of Danny Rand (yawn), their pairing wasn’t a smooth meet-cute.

Colleen Wing (Jessica Henwick) in 'Iron Fist.'


In secret, Colleen was the student of Bakuto (Ramón Rodriguez), the leader of a supposedly “kinder” faction of the Hand separate from Madame Gao’s army (more on that later). Colleen worked as a recruiter for Bakuto’s Hand, and she somehow hoped Danny would come to understand even though the Hand are sworn enemies of K’un-Lun. After a rough patch, the two have found peace with each other.

Luke Cage Is in Seagate

At the end of his solo Netflix series, Luke Cage (Mike Colter) was sent back to Seagate for breaking out in the first place. In Iron Fist, his letters to Claire (Rosario Dawson) are stamped from Seagate, confirming he’s still there surrounded by four walls. Is a prison breakout in order for The Defenders?

The Hand is in the Midst of Its Own Civil War

For two seasons on Daredevil, the Hand terrorized Hell’s Kitchen. But Iron Fist revealed that the Hand has at least two factions — one led by Madam Gao and the other led by Bakuto — and the two pretty much hate each other.

Madame Gao (Wai Ching-Ho) in 'Iron Fist.'


Claire Temple, Certified Badass

After the events of Luke Cage, Claire Temple thought it wise to start taking self-defense lessons. She signs up for Colleen Wing’s Chikara Dojo, and by the time Iron Fist starts, she’s a capable scrapper.

Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson) in 'Iron Fist.'


Danny’s Got Some New (and Old) Enemies

While Danny vanquished Harold Meachum, he created new enemies in his wake. In the show’s finale, Joy Meachum (Jessica Stroup) aligns herself with Davos (Sacha Dawan), an old friend of Danny’s from K’un-Lun whose resentment towards him bubbled to the surfaced. And they aren’t alone: Not out of earshot was Madame Gao herself, the head figure of a separate faction of the Hand.

Danny Is (Sort of) in Control of Rand Enterprises

Though Ward Meachum was more concerned with taking down his father than helping Danny, their goals aligned and allowed Danny to resume some kind of control of the company that bears his name. While Ward will be running the show, Danny isn’t unwelcome and won’t be strong-armed out of the lobby anymore. It’s likely Danny will show off some of his wealth to outfit his Defender buddies.

And K’un-Lun is gone!

Towards the end of Iron Fist, Danny wanted to leave New York and return to K’un-Lun, taking Colleen Wing with him as a companion. But upon their arrival to the heavenly gates in the Himalayas, they’re shocked to discover dead bodies of K’un-Lun guards scattered around and the actual entrance to K’un-Lun gone. This explains why Danny is still around New York for The Defenders, but also that his war with the Hand is coming right to him in his old home.

Marvel’s The Defenders will premiere on Netflix later this year.

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