NYCC: The Defenders Assemble at Marvel’s ‘Iron Fist’ Panel

Finn Jones as Danny Rand in 'Marvel's Iron Fist' (Photo: Netflix)
Finn Jones as Danny Rand in ‘Marvel’s Iron Fist’ (Photo: Netflix)

Marvel Television head honcho Jeph Loeb opened the New York Comic Con panel for Netflix’s latest Marvel-based series, Iron Fist, by quoting not comic book legend Stan Lee, but movie legend Ferris Bueller. “I urge you, in the Ferris Bueller of it all, that until I say ‘It’s over, go home’…don’t go home.”

Now we know why. At the end of the panel, Loeb introduced the Defenders to the world for the very first time, and Netflix’s corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe will never be the same. Coming in 2017, the team-up series unites all four of the streaming service’s heroes: Daredevil (Charlie Cox), Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter), Luke Cage (Mike Colter) and Danny Rand (Finn Jones). The quartet took the stage in the Javits Center to deafening applause and cheers, which rocketed way past 11 when Loeb brought out the only villain capable of battling this super-team to a standstill: Sigourney Weaver.

The Aliens star didn’t get a chance to say anything, but then she didn’t have to. The mere thought of Ellen Ripley — or whichever Marvel-ous nemesis Weaver ends up playing — delivering the beatdown to a ninja, a detective, a man of steel and an iron-forged warrior was enough to make this Marvel’s most anticipated production since The Avengers assembled for the very first time at the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con.

The uniting of the Defenders capped what had already been a heavy-hitting panel, coming right on the heels of the announcement that the solo Punisher series had just started production on Monday. Frank Castle himself, Jon Bernthal, was on hand to confirm the good news and introduce a surprise co-star: Deborah Ann Woll, reprising her role as Karen Page — former legal secretary to Matt Murdock a.k.a. Daredevil. Page shared a number of scenes with Castle in Daredevil’s second season, and Woll said she didn’t hesitate about the chance to reunite with Bernthal for The Punisher. “When they asked me to do this, I said yes in a heartbeat,” she told the audience. “The love in this room [for Jon] is so huge. But you guys don’t love him as much as I do.”

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In case you were worried that poor Danny Rand and his alter ego Iron Fist got lost amidst all these announcements, Netflix made sure to stoke anticipation for the series — which hits the streaming service on March 17 — by previewing five clips, plus an all-new trailer. Not bad for a series that, according to Loeb, literally filmed its last scenes that very morning at 9 AM. Since this was the first time that the show’s cast — including Jones, Jessica Stroup, Tom Pelphrey, David Wenham, Rosario Dawson and Jessica Henwick — had seen any frames of the footage, they watched these scenes as eagerly as the audience. And if Jones looked a little exhausted in between clips, it’s understandable considering the amount of punches he has to throw as the title character.

Two of the sequences that audiences got to see were filled with kung-fu fighting; in the first, Danny Rand — back in Manhattan after being missing and presumed dead for decades — enters the headquarters of the company his father built, only to be escorted out of the building by security…probably because he’s dressed like a homeless man. But he’s not about to take his ejection lying down; Danny promptly demolishes the Rand security corps, fighting his way onto an elevator to find Harold Meachum, his father’s business partner. Later on, we watched the Iron Fist version of the hallway battles that Netflix’s Marvel shows have become known for, this one involving dudes with tiny axes and Danny striking martial arts poses that come straight out of the comic book.

But Jones isn’t the only one who gets to have all the fun; a third set-piece focused on Marvel newcomer Henwick, who plays Colleen Wing, a superb fighter who uses her skills to take out two ‘roided up muscleheads in a brutal cage match. (Henwick and Jones are both Game of Thrones veterans; he played the dearly departed Ser Loras Tyrell, while she’s one of the surviving Sand Snakes, Nymeria.) According to Loeb, Colleen will impart some of her martial arts mastery to Claire Temple (Dawson), the nurse who has provided the connective thread between all four Marvel shows. “I have a good sensei,” Dawson said, laughing as she reached over to give Henwick a high five.

The last two clips screened during the panel were quieter in tone, but full of bruising implications. In one, Danny confronts his childhood friends Joy and Ward Meachum (Stroup and Pelphrey), who appear to have conspired with their father Harold (Wenham) to seize his own dad’s business and legacy. “I have Hogarth now,” Rand says. “You can’t deny what’s mine.” And if you watched Jessica Jones, you know the kind of prizefighter that Jeri Hogarth (Carrie-Anne Moss) is in the legal world.

The other depicts a hallucinatory encounter between Danny and Harold, where Rand gives us an idea of where he’s been for the past dozen years (short answer: training to become a mystical warrior) and his true purpose in coming back: “It’s my duty to destroy the Hand.” That’s a pointed reference to the army of ninjas that played a major role in Daredevil’s second season, and who are currently in possession of the lifeless (but maybe not for long?) body of Elektra—the Man Without Fear’s former lover. Does this mean we’ll be seeing a resurrected Elektra in The Defenders fighting alongside Sigourney Weaver against our heroes? If so, we’re prepared to call that series a total knock-out sight unseen.

Iron Fist premieres March 17, 2017 on Netflix.