Let’s start this by saying; I didn’t hate Iron Fist. It was okay. It had some cool fight scenes and some strong performances. Unfortunately, none of those strong performances came from Finn Jones. I just didn’t think the character of Danny Rand will work well with the rest of the Defenders.
He won’t fit in with the rest of the team
Any team relies on its members complementing each other. They have to play off each other and butt heads in a way that is natural but compelling. I can’t see how Danny Rand will have this chemistry with the rest of the team. To break down the group.
Daredevil: A brooding figure with bloodied fists. He’s full of righteous anger and Catholic guilt.
Jessica Jones: Drunk, acerbic and with a troubled past. Jessica’s good angel is constantly battling the demon on her other shoulder, and both of them fight dirty.
Luke Cage: The coolest of all the Defenders, and with the best soundtrack. Luke brings experience, wisdom, and unbreakable skin.
And finally, if by some miracle he appears, The Punisher: Is simply The Punisher. Who I can’t see having any time for Danny Rand.
What does Danny Rand bring to this? Youthful naivety? Teenage strops? Is that really worthwhile? The hallmark of the other Netflix/Marvel hookups has been their gritty aesthetic. Danny Rand’s world is too light and airy to work well with the world of Jessica Jones and Daredevil.
I know that Danny Rand’s backstory includes the death of his parents and a possibly abusive upbringing in K’un-Lun. Unfortunately, Finn Jones doesn’t manage to portray that level of emotional turmoil. Instead, he tends to look like an entitled teenager whose Dad won’t let him play video games until he’s done his homework.
In short, Danny Rand is an emotional lightweight compared to Matt Murdock, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage.
His powers will get in the way
Danny Rand is, possibly, the most powerful Defender. That in itself is not a problem. The issue is that his powers completely undermine those of Daredevil. They are both martial artists, but Danny Rand gets hit less and can punch through walls. He can also heal himself with his Chi or whatever.
For all of Daredevils abilities, there are few battle situations that Danny Rand simply isn’t better able to handle. This makes Daredevil look like the plucky team member, playing second fiddle to the more talented rookie. This would be fine if Matt Murdoch wasn’t a much more compelling, and established, character than Danny Rand.
Below is possibly the best fight scene in the Marvel Universe. It showcases the brutality and physicality of Daredevil’s world. It would be kind of undermined if Iron Fist could simply waltz through and smash these Russian gangsters in the face with one punch.
The only real drama in Danny Rand’s fights was when he lost the ability to use the Iron Fist. Unfortunately, he communicated the stress of this situation by looking at his hand like a teenage boy who’d wanked his wrist to the point of dislocation. Which is not a look a superhero should have.
It’s easy to explain his absence
He can be finding K’un-Lun! We can get the occasional call from him, it can go a bit like this:
Danny Rand: Hi Matt, heard you’re putting the Defenders together, thought you might want me to join.
Matt Murdock: That’s cool Danny, think we’re pretty much covered.
Danny Rand: It’s no problem, I’d love to be part of a team. It would be Aces! I could bring….
Matt Murdock: Don’t worry Danny, you should probably just focus on finding K’un-Lun. Those monks are probably missing you.
Danny: No seriously, it’s really boring and cold out here, and I ‘m worried Colleen is considering smothering me with a..
Matt Murdock: Sorry Danny, I can’t hear you, think you must be going through a tunnel. Good luck with the hunt. Send us a postcard.
Then Matt Murdock can go back to having an adult conversation with Luke and Jessica.