Gender Roles Were Reversed In Iron Fist

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Colleen Wing was Danny Rand's first friend when he returned from Ku'n-Lun.
Colleen Wing was Danny Rand's first friend when he returned from Ku'n-Lun. Marvel / Netflix

Iron First is a series that could be dissected over the course of endless conversations. We won’t get into all those conversations in this article (read my review here), but when we spoke with cast member Jessica Henwick she brought up one interesting topic in particular: gender roles. At San Diego Comic-Con, I asked Henwick what Colleen sees in Danny Rand that’s so attractive, because, well, he’s a lot to deal with. That’s when Henwick pointed to a theme I didn’t immediately associate with the series.

“What Colleen sees in’s always a bit of a gender reversal in Iron Fist, in that Danny is kind of the ingénue and wide-eyed,” she told Player.One.“Colleen is the Clint Eastwood, like, ‘I’ve been around too long and I don’t give a shit.’ She's jaded and she’s tough and doesn't want to let people in. That was part of the appeal to me, that they had that character swap.”

Looking back, Henwick is so right. Colleen has a survival instinct and street mentality often associated with men. Not to mention she can take down a man three times her size, as seen in one of the best scenes in Iron Fist when she enters a martial arts contest. Her character defies stereotypes about women. No matter how much stress Colleen is put under, she doesn’t break (unlike Danny.) She’s able to control her emotions and stay level-headed. Even when she finds out her mentor, Bakuto, and The Hand aren’t the good people they convinced her they were.

“Colleen has massive abandonment complex,” Henwick said of her character, whose mother dies when she was young and father ships her off to Japan. “She doesn’t have anyone so when Bakuto came into my life, I was like ‘okay, I have someone who's mine now and I’m yours’ and that’s why she gave herself so freely and that’s why she believed so badly in what they were doing.”

That commitment and loyalty is what Colleen gives Danny Rand, even though it takes her a little bit to warm up to him. She takes care of him, teaches him how to navigate society and grounds his impulsive mentality. But when Colleen senses that her “right hand man” is slipping away in The Defenders, Henwick said her character may have some mixed emotions.

“At the top of the season, Colleen is the one saying [to Iron Fist] ‘there have to be more people like you. We have to find them. Let’s get this show on the road.’ Then, when everything happens the way she planned, shes kind of like, ‘Oh, but then you don’t need me. How do I compete? I’m just a girl with a sword. I can't punch through doors. I’m not bulletproof,’” Henwick said. “I think she kinda wants to slow it down a bit, which is really human and kind of sad. She’s so used to being Danny’s right hand man.”

After The Defenders , Colleen Wing may have to start thinking about her place in the world, a role beyond just being Danny’s rock. Hopefully, this will lead her into a certain partnership from the comics … maybe something like say, Daughters of the Dragon? We can only hope.

The Defenders arrives on Netflix Aug. 18.

Iron Fist
The Struggle Is Not Real
If you’re looking for shock value, Iron Fist does not have it. Netflix and Marvel have turned an interesting superhero into a basic bro.
  • Colleen Wing is a delight
  • The last four episodes are significantly more entertaining
  • Problematic character development
  • Lackadaisical fight scenes
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