Iron Fist’s second season dropped on Netflix this past weekend, and if you’re able to tear yourself away from playing Spider-Man to watch it, you’ll discover some major changes to the show’s dynamics — and even some twists that emerge in the back half.
[Ed. note: The following contains major spoilers for Iron Fist season two]
About halfway through the season, Danny Rand’s former friend Davos steals the power of the Iron Fist. We know how this story goes and expect that, by the end, Danny will fight Davos and take back his power.
However, things take turn no one could’ve predicted: Danny’s partner Colleen Wing ends up with the power instead, and after an extended chase and battle, she takes the remaining power from Davos to become the new Iron Fist. Content with being powerless, Danny leaves New York to learn more about the legacy of the Iron First mantle.
Thanks to a brief time skip at the end, we get an idea of the new status quo. Colleen has spent the following months protecting New York with her new power — and her sword, which now glows when the Fist ignites — while Danny and Ward Meachum have traveled to Japan. During the final minutes of the finale, it appears that Danny has reacquired the Fist since his departure, and he makes that clear in a completely wild way: he uses it to ignite two pistols to shoot glowing bullets to destroy a bullet coming his way.
If you’re wondering what the deal with that is, it all ties back to one of the previous Iron Fists: Orson Randall.
The history behind a key character
In 2006’s The Immortal Iron Fist comic by Matt Fraction, David Aja, Ed Brubaker, and Travel Foreman, we learn that Danny’s predecessor was World War I soldier Orson Randall. Having abandoned K’un L’un due to PTSD, Orson spent the years after the war dodging HYDRA and Steel Serpent agents, helped in part by Lei-Kung the Thunderer, who was assigned to hunt him down before giving up the search and taking pity on his friend.
Danny and Orson have an even stronger tie than the Iron Fist mantle. While Orson was living in hiding and going on an opium bender, he adopted Danny’s father, Wendell Rand. In their time together, Orson told Wendell all about K’un L’un, and training him in the process. Upon his “death” by opium addiction, all of Orson’s fortune went to Wendell, who later grew up and spent his fortune to find the mythical city, with young Danny in tow. As it turns out, Orson didn’t actually die — he just really loved Thailand and wanted to get off the grid. Orson later traveled to New York to find Danny, give him a book containing the secrets of every previous Iron Fist, and sacrifice himself to transfer the remainder of his power to Danny.
Along with the typical suite of Iron Fist powers, Orson also decided to adapt the fighting techniques of earlier Iron Fist and Pirate Queen Wu Ao-Shi, creating the martial arts technique known as “Gun Fu.” (If you watch the John Wick movies or Kingsman, you’ve seen this technique a billion times.) His primary use of this was two pistols that “fired lightning from God” i.e. he used his Fist to charge the pistols and make glowing bullets.
What does this mean for the show?
During this season of Iron Fist, a mummified body dressed in Iron Fist clothing is discovered, later identified as one Orson Randall. It seems over the course of his travels, Danny took the man’s old duster and pistols.
Whatever future the series has — it’s unclear if season three is a given — history will certainly play a bigger part than it has before. The show implies Colleen’s a descendant of Wu, supported by the fact that Wu was the first Fist to imbue weapons with her chi. That explains how Colleen can do with her sword what Orson and Danny do with guns. Still, some questions remain. Is it the residual power of Orson’s pistols that allow them to work for Danny? Did he find a new way to get the Fist? Those answers will have to wait until whatever comes next.
Currently, it’s unclear if Orson’s connection to Danny will be the same as it was in the comics. The backstory of Danny’s parents has yet to be explored outside their relationship to the Meachums, so there’s sure to be plenty to learn about Wendell. Incorporating Orson ensures that Danny still has something to do in the show beyond be Colleen’s moral support, and does indeed help him find himself.
As for Colleen, making her the Iron Fist is a first across all media, but the choice to have her and Danny share the mantle simultaneously isn’t exactly new territory. In the current Marvel comics, a girl named Pei grew up in K’un L’un and gained the power of the Iron Fist, making her the youngest person to ever acquire it. She’s since been living with Danny as his ward and, after some growing pains, has become something of a teenage hero herself. This doesn’t really mean anything for Colleen on the show, except that she may take a page from Pei’s book and pull off the ultimate fist bump with Danny. But it certainly complicates their relationship when they inevitably reunite, and it charts a new course for the show going forward.
Maybe a rebranding is in order next season? Iron Fists has quite a ring to it, doesn’t it?
Justin is a Kansas City, Missouri, freelance writer and is on Twitter often, @GigawattConduit. He also is an avid lover of M&M McFlurries from McDonald’s, and accepts that he has an addiction to them.