As the fourth and final series to be introduced to the Marvel Netflix universe, Iron Fist has a lot of established characters to draw on — and it also has the job of making the final narrative preparations for The Defenders. What are the wider Marvel connections and cameos in Iron Fist?
Let’s walk through them. Oh, and, no duh, this post contains spoilers for Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage.
Claire Temple, the suture that holds the Marvel Netflix universe together (sometimes literally) has a role in Iron Fist, beginning around the middle of the season. Claire, played by Rosario Dawson, debuted in Daredevil’s first season, a Hell’s Kitchen nurse who discovered that Matt Murdock was Daredevil when he collapsed near her apartment, and begrudgingly tended to his wounds.
She returned briefly toward the end of Jessica Jones, again to tend to the wounded lead characters, Jessica and Luke. She appeared in Daredevil’s second season, when her hospital became the target of the criminal cult known as the Hand.
Her largest role yet was in Luke Cage, where she spent a significant portion of the show trying to keep Luke alive, and aiding him in uncovering the truth about his late wife and her role in the experiment that gave him his powers. At the end of the season, after her will-they-won’t-they flirtation with Luke was cut short by his rearrest, Claire was strategically shown taking down the phone number of Colleen Wing’s dojo, for self-defense classes.
Wing is a central character in Iron Fist, giving writers the needed hook to involve Claire in the storyline.
Jeryn “Jeri” Hogarth began her tenure in the Marvel Netflix world as one of Jessica Jones’ sources of employment. As a lawyer, she often hired the erratic but effective private detective to serve papers or track down people unwilling to otherwise cooperate with her clients. She became a central character over the course of Jessica Jones’ first season, and in Iron Fist she appears to have come through her encounter with Kilgrave relatively intact.
Or, she just puts on a good front after recovering from her mind-controlled ex-wife attempting to literally give her a death from a thousand cuts, which wouldn’t be particularly out of character. She appears in Iron Fist in a typical role: legal counsel.
Madame Gao has been a figure of mystery since the first season of Daredevil, when, with a single thrust of her hand, the small, elderly woman threw Matt Murdock across a room — seemingly with supernatural force. She’s a ruthless, international heroin runner at first glance, and her appearances in Daredevil have repeatedly seeded hints that she has a more supernatural connection.
Gao once told Wilson Fisk that she could speak every language, and when Leland Owlsley guessed that her “homeland” might be in China, she replied:
“It is a considerable distance further.”
Many viewers drew the connection between Gao’s statements and abilities, Netflix’s intention to make an Iron Fist series, and Iron Fist’s origin story itself. They proposed that Madame Gao might have a connection to K’un-Lun, the mystical city that can only periodically be reached from our dimension, where Danny Rand trained.
Gao is back in Iron Fist, and it seems we’ll be getting some answers to the question of her origin.
The Hand is known to be the ultimate villainous force of The Defenders, but the group also provides the main antagonists of Iron Fist.
First introduced in Daredevil’s second season, the Hand is a powerful, criminal “ninja clan” that inspires a cult-like dedication in its enforcers. It seems clear that the Hand has the ability to return its fallen warriors to life, as it did in the case of leader Nobu Yoshioka, who was killed twice in the course of Daredevil. It has been hinted at, and is heavily speculated, that the Hand will provide the same for Elektra Natchios after her death at the end of the second season of Daredevil.
There is at least one equally ancient secret society that opposes the Hand, known as the Chaste, or so claims Matt Murdock’s childhood trainer, Stick.